Woori Bank of South Korea has successfully tested overseas remittance via Ripple, according to a report in the business section of Chosun News.
The Digital Strategy Department of the bank carried out the initial test in late January, and a further test earlier this month. The bank will now focus on practical training of its foreign exchange and IT departments in the use of the new system.
Remittance is the fancy word for ‘sending money overseas’. Ripple uses a blockchain version of the ancient Arab trading system of hawala to make money appear at its destination instantly. The SWIFT network, which is the most widely-used money transfer service, takes days to process a payment.
According to Tokyo-based SBI Group, 37 Japanese banks also tested the service. Other banks involved included Shinhan Bank of South Korea and Siam Commercial Bank of Thailand.
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Woori Bank intends to install overseas remittances via Ripple as a commercial option this year. An official said: “The issue of overseas remittance fees is a matter for discussion, but it is much quicker and cheaper than existing remittances… In the future, the customer will choose the most advantageous overseas remittance method.”
A Japanese bank official said that the service will be adopted in Japan too: “Since the test results were good…Several banks, such as two or three megabanks and Internet professional banks, are pushing to introduce the practice.”
However, the report also says that the SWIFT network is unlikely to be replaced any time soon because it is already in place all over the world, and the reach of blockchain technology is limited.
This is not the first time that Woori Bank has tested a new technology – according to its Wikipedia page, it was the first South Korean bank to support web browsers other than Internet Explorer for online banking.