What happened yesterday is unprecedented: No corporation, business, or cooperative has truly challenged SWIFT for its dominant role in cross-border value transfer – until now.
SWIFT, established in 1973, has been holding their SIBOS (Swift International Banking Operations Seminar) conference for banks and member stakeholders since 1978. 1 The purpose of the conference is to introduce their clients (and potential clients) to the technology offerings that are connected to banking and the financial industry. 2
This year’s SIBOS conference is scheduled for October 16-19 in Toronto, Canada. 3 It features speakers from banks such as BNY, and HSBC, as well as international payment providers like Earthport. 4 The SIBOS exhibitor list includes Ripple. 5
SWIFT has made a habit (I believe) of purposefully not mentioning Ripple technology when they talk about options for doing instant cross-border payments, and have seemingly opted to keep their clients in the dark when in regards to how technology can already move money as fast as information.
Long absent is their acknowledgement of Ripple as either a competitor to their own technology, or as a viable alternative to it.
How Ripple Handled Needing a Larger Role than Just “Exhibitor”
The leaders at Ripple are not ones to wait for the future to arrive; for them, it’s already here, and their standardized bank offerings bring home the point with precision and clarity.
Their own client base is now swelling and includes 90 banks and financial institutions. Headlines are written seemingly every day about Ripple technology’s adoption; SBI Remit services are continually rolling out new solutions. 6
To counter SWIFT’s attempt to obscure the current availability of technology that will immediately enable banks to make instant payments across borders, Ripple decided to do what it does best; lead from the front.
And that leadership meant founding a new worldwide summit of a different kind; one where the best technology is invited to take center stage and can serve as a technology showcase to banks and other financial institutions. To connect with the greatest audience in their role as a technology innovator, Ripple scheduled it for the same city and time frame of SIBOS! Now they just had to name it.
Go Big or Go Home: How Ripple Announced SWELL
When your company has an enormous mind-share and stake in the promotion of new, innovative technology that is guaranteed to save banks and financial institutions money and can make sending money across borders as fast as information can flow, it’s not time to be a wall flower.
Ripple decided to go big, and that meant a count-down to what could potentially be the most historically significant new financial technology conference in thirty-nine years. They started with a three-stage countdown to their announcement of SWELL, and those of us that own their digital asset were not disappointed by the market’s reaction.
- Day 1 – Monday August 21, 2017: 3 days of mind-blowing #content and #speakers
- Day 2 – Tuesday August 22, 2017: 2 themes coming together, #banking & #blockchain
- Day 3 – Wednesday August 23, 2017: 1 Vision for the Future of #payments takes center stage
- Day 4 – Thursday August 24, 2017: Introducing #SwellbyRipple, where innovation, #blockchain and banking converge.
The Crypto Market Reacted to Ripple’s Countdown in Dramatic Fashion
When Ripple initiated their three-part countdown announcing SWELL, the crypto-currency market reacted with overwhelming interest in XRP, driving the price higher by over 70%, as reported by Fortune magazine. 11 The volume measured in dollars was just short of the daily trading volume of Bitcoin, the industry’s leader.
The frenzy in the market and the overwhelming din on almost all crypto-currency trading forums prompted Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, to issue this reminder 12 to XRP investors and crypto-currency enthusiasts:
“XRP’s value lies in its utility as the best asset for payments, not one specific event or rumor”
The prices have retraced somewhat as of this writing, but the volume of XRP trading worldwide is still running at spectacular proportions.
Swell is an Entire Industry’s Opportunity to Take the Stage Back
It’s not just about Ripple fighting back against a monopoly on cross-border value transfer. It’s about a history of foot-dragging that has cost businesses and individuals billions (if not trillions) of dollars of wasted time and money.
In 2017, you should be able to send money to your family in another country faster than it would take to fly it there yourself, but the SWIFT network is not capable of overcoming those issues using it’s legacy technology.
They were late to the game, dragging their feet all the way, disputing whether “blockchain technology” could really solve any of the problems with the delays in the current SWIFT system. As recently as February of this year, SWIFT dismissed the use of blockchain in its GPI improvement effort, while at the same time saying it might explore a proof of concept that uses blockchain technology. 13
This sort of double-speak serves as a delay tactic to re-assure their current bank members that they “are looking into it” while still enabling some of their members to keep making money off of a broken system.
Other banks and their customers are not so easily fooled.
When an existing, proven technology like Ripple is being used throughout the Pacific rim banking network, customers start asking questions like “why am I paying such high fees to wait two days after sending money overseas?”
As a result, there is no shortage of schadenfreude at SWIFT’s obvious discomfort when their SIBOS publicity is preempted for the purpose of promoting better technology.
SWELL Gives Consumers and Banks Something to Cheer For
Who doesn’t want to see David fight Goliath? SWELL has been well-organized if their keynote speaker list is any indication: They managed to book the former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve System, Ben Bernanke, and the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee as the keynote speakers. 14
It doesn’t stop there; the confirmed list of speakers 15 is a who’s who of not only Ripple, but a wide array of Fintech companies:
- Brad Garlinghouse, CEO, Ripple
- Stefan Thomas, CTO, Ripple
- Dilip Rao, Managing Director of APAC, Ripple
- Kristen Michaud, Managing Director, Treasury Operations, GE Capital
- Dr. Arak Sutivong, Head of Strategy, Siam Commercial Bank
- Takashi Okita, CEO, SBI Ripple Asia
- Nobuo Ando, Representative Director, SBI Remit Co., Ltd.
- Ed Metzger, Head of Innovation, Banco Santander
- Amit Sethi, President and CIO, Axis Bank
- Rahul Pai, COO, UAE Exchange
- Dharmesh Desai, Group EVP, Yes Bank
- Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director, The Hyperledger Project
- Marwan Forzley, CEO and Co-Founder, Veem
SWELL will Make a Statement and Create Ripple’s Market Share
SWELL is more than just a bold stroke of marketing for the world leader at instant cross-border payments; it’s a harbinger of change worldwide, one in which the economic organizations of the world – from the IMF to the US Federal Reserve – are united in supporting.
The move to instant cross-border payments is one that individual and businesses have waited too long for; it’s 2017, and we are demanding to send money across the world with the same ease and cost that we send email.
SWELL provides an opportunity for innovations that truly make a difference for banks, financial institutions, and most importantly, for the end-users – the customers.