The SWIFT global payment network is partnering with blockchain start-up R3, which uses Ripple’s XRP token. Photo:

Crypto-currency markets were on the up on Thursday and one token was leading the charge. Ripple, the second largest crytpto-currency by market capitalization, became even larger as its boss met with the CEO of SWIFT in Paris on Thursday.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse and Gottfried Leibbrandt from SWIFT met at the Paris Fintech Forum to discuss the future of financial transactions. The big story to emerge was that the Brussels-based financial messaging service for the world’s biggest banks was partnering with blockchain start-up R3.

Last month New York-based R3 launched an application aimed at facilitating global crypto-currency payments called Corda Settler, which would use Ripple’s XRP token. The news sent the token surging as it gained more than 12% in 24 hours, increasing its lead over Ethereum in terms of market capitalization.

“We are announcing later today a proof-of-concept with the R3 blockchain on trade where you can initiate a payment on the trade platform and then it goes into GPI (Global Payments Innovation),” Leibbrandt told a media panel on Thursday.

The ‘integration’ is actually a trial that connects SWIFT’s GPI Link gateway with R3’s Corda blockchain platform in order to monitor payment flows and support application programming interfaces. According to the announcement, with the GPI Link “banks will be able to provide rapid, transparent settlement services to e-commerce and trading platforms, opening up whole new ecosystems to the speed, security, ubiquity and transparency … enabling them to grow and prosper in the new digital economy.”

SWIFT is the world leader in financial transactions with more than 11,000 institutions using it to move an estimated $200 billion around the world every day. The announcement was certainly great news for R3, but it could also benefit Ripple, which has traditionally been a competitor.

Garlinghouse added that Ripple was open to “ways we could work with SWIFT,” but neither company hinted at an official partnership in the near-term.

The Ripple boss did say that SWIFT, in its current state, was slow and expensive due to its centralization and that a blockchain-based solution would solve these issues due to its decentralization. “SWIFT today is a one-way messaging framework, it isn’t a liquidity provider. When we think about an internet of value, it’s a mixture of two-way messaging frameworks — moving to a real-time chatting protocol if you will — coupled with real-time liquidity,” he added.

There has been a huge debate in crypto circles over the decentralization of Ripple and XRP, or lack of it. Unlike Bitcoin, Ripple controls and owns the majority of the supply of its own token, rendering it somewhat centralized.

Leibbrandt concluded that the instability of crypto assets means banks are hesitant to convert things into a crypto-currency right now because of the volatility in the currencies. Either way, XRP is certainly benefitting with a surge that has recovered the last three weeks worth of losses.

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