SWIFT and Ripple have been locked in a battle for supremacy in the international remittance service arena for some time now, as Ripple’s innovative approach to cross-border money transfers has looked to disrupt SWIFT’s four-decade long hold on the market. Rumors emerged in 2018 that the two might be looking to team up. By year’s end, however, the reality was clear: Ripple’s goal was not to collaborate with SWIFT but rather to overtake the established company.
It is against this backdrop that high-ranking leaders at both firms plan to go head-to-head at two European conferences this quarter. First, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse will participate in a one-on-one panel with SWIFT’s outgoing CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt at the Blockchain Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 24. This discussion will be followed by a debate over the future for cross-border payments between Ripple’s Global Head of Banking Marjan Delatinne and SWIFT’s Global Head of Banking Wim Raymaekers at Germany’s 1TC Conference at the end of February.
At both conferences, Ripple and SWIFT are expected to address head-on the issues that serve to highlight the differences between the two companies’ approaches to international money transfers. In Davos, the focus is likely to be on the contrast between Ripple and SWIFT in their views on the use of blockchain technology. SWIFT is known to be uncertain about adopting this emerging technology, while Ripple has embraced its potential to overthrow the traditional payment system in general and SWIFT in particular.
The discussion in Germany is reported to be more general, with Delatinne and Raymaekers scheduled to talk about their views on the effects of technology on the banking sector and global money transfers more generally. The debate is aimed at highlighting the different futures that the emerging firm and the established company envision in the sector.
These discussions occur as both Ripple and SWIFT have been taking steps to secure their market share in the global money transfer sector. Ripple has increased its efforts to supplant SWIFT’s more traditional approach through the use of blockchain, while SWIFT has eschewed blockchain technology in favor of their “integrated payment validation” solution. The jury’s still out as to which approach will ultimately win; while Ripple has experienced strong growth recently, SWIFT still maintains a hold as the standard-bearer in international money transfers for decades.