The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) has launched its "NBK Direct Remit" service, which uses Ripple's blockchain technology for cross-border payments.
NBK (which, despite the name, is not a central bank) says it is the first bank in Kuwait to use Ripple's technology and claims in a press release that it will "provide customers with a frictionless remittance experience and fast cross-border money transfer solutions."
In its first iteration, NBK Direct Remit will be available only for transfers to Jordan. Deputy CEO Dimitrios Kokosioulis said the transfers will take "seconds." He also outlined other products launched by NBK as part of its focus on digital transformation, including NBK "SelfiePay," cardless cash withdrawal, and biometric bank cards.
The RippleNet platform, according to Ripple, creates real-time settlement functionality, lowers costs and provides end-to-end transaction visibility, allowing banks to better compete with new FinTech payment providers. It combines Ripple's propriety blockchain technologies, including xCurrent and xRapid, which no longer appear to have their own clear branding.
Ripple's individual blockchain protocols offer different solutions and it's unclear from the NBK announcement what exactly the bank has utilized from Ripple, or whether it will use Ripple's XRP token to provide instant liquidity for the cross-border transactions.
As NBK has chosen remittances between Kuwait and Jordan and specifically, it seems, to NBK Jordan bank accounts, it looks unlikely that XRP will be used.
Reports indicate that NBK Jordan accounts will be able to instantly record received funds sent from Kuwait via NBK Direct Remit. However, transfers to other banks in Jordan will go through a normal clearing process with Automated Clearing House (ACH).
Many recent Ripple partnerships have chosen to adopt Ripple's technology without using XRP. Any move to using XRP for instant liquidity by a central bank would be a major step forward for Ripple and cryptocurrency adoption, though it's not immediately likely in this instance.
Ripple's steady infiltration into conventional financial services continues, though, with Ripple now boasting over 100 partnerships with banks, and financial services firms.
Earlier this December Ripple announced another Middle Eastern partnership, this time with UAE Exchange, which expects to use RippleNet for remittance transfers to a handful of Asian banks in 2019.