Ripple’s long-anticipated cryptocurrency product, which aims to make XRP the asset of choice for cross-border settlements between financial institutions, is finally nearing production via an actual commercial application.
Sagar Sarbhai, who heads Ripple’s regulatory relations in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions, told CNBC that the firm believes this product, dubbed xRapid, could launch in as soon as a month.
“I am very confident that in the next one month or so you will see some good news coming in where we launch the product live in production,” Sarbhai said.
Unlike the firm’s other blockchain products, xRapid uses the public XRP cryptocurrency for settlement, which Ripple says enhances the speed off cross-border currency transfers.
We reported in August that Ripple had selected three cryptocurrency exchanges — Bittrex, Bits, and Coins.ph — to serve as preferred partners for the xRapid ecosystem, perhaps foreshadowing the product’s commercial launch.
Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse predicted earlier this year that “dozens” of banks would be using xRapid — and by extension XRP — by the end of 2019.
Sarbhai said that more than 120 banks and financial institutions located worldwide are currently using the firm’s xCurrent product, which uses blockchain technology to decrease settlement time but does not make use of XRP.
The challenge will be to convince those firms to upgrade to xRapid, even as many financial institutions remain cautious on or even outright hostile toward cryptocurrency.
Elsewhere in the interview, Sarbhai said that regulators and other policymakers worldwide are beginning to recognize the benefit of cryptocurrency — not just blockchain technology — which he says will further improve the environment for development in this technological field.
“A couple of years ago the narrative was: blockchain good, crypto bad,” he said. “What we’re now seeing is more and more regulators, policymakers taking the whole space in one conjunction,” he continued, adding, “So, I think that narrative thankfully is now changing because policymakers, regulators are seeing that there is a strong benefit that digital assets, cryptocurrencies bring in.”
Despite being launched in 2012, a majority of XRP is still owned by Ripple. The token, which traded as high as $3.84 in January, has since seen a 93 percent decline, according to OnChainFX.