Rumblings were felt at The Paris Blockchain Week Summit on Wednesday, as Ripple faced off against its hated rival, the payments giant SWIFT.
Ripple believes that it has been in a bitter struggle with SWIFT for years. Both offer platforms that handle cross-border transactions. SWIFT is the global benchmark; Ripple is the plucky underdog.
That tension was soon to spill over into real life: that day, the rivals had convened at a panel on “The Future of Payments.”
It was set to be big stuff.
Sat on the left was Marjan Delattine, Ripple’s global payments chief. A protégé and eventual turncoat, Delattine worked for SWIFT as its general director until 2016. And on the right was Leonard Schrank, who was SWIFT’s CEO for 15 years.
Would the young eat the old, or would the establishment claim a chilling victory?
SWIFT won. Hands down.
A fierce battle of words
Delattine moved first, bigging Ripple up. She said that it was SWIFT, but swifter: that its payments networks, xCurrent and xRapid, were cheaper and quicker: that scores of banks had successfully trialled its software; that its $14.1 billion capitalized cryptocurrency would become the future standard in digital money; that it was coming for SWIFT, and fast.
Schrank remained unconvinced, and spat out a devastating rebuttal.
“Anyone can engineer a standard,” he said. “The hard part is getting anyone to use it.”
Schrank reminded the crowd that he had presided over SWIFT when it was responsible for managing $6 trillion worth of payments a day. Now, he said, it handles $10 trillion. Ripple’s success, by contrast, seems like small fry.
“Ripple’s at a billion,” he smirked. “You’ve got to start somewhere.”
It was a backhanded slight that Delattine would not countenance.
“We have signed up more than 200 financial institutions, more than 25/30 each quarter,” she quaffed. “They are already implementing Ripple on the back end of their systems. That shows the trust the financial institutions are showing towards our technology and blockchain in general.”
But SWIFT isn’t letting Ripple play catch up—its global payments innovation platform, which also purports to speed up transactions, has already rolled out to 40 percent of its customers.
That’s the same system that Delattine was in charge of at SWIFT, she told the crowd, as if to remind them how just how well she knew her enemy.
Yet faced even with these stellar credentials, Schrank remained unintimidated.
“I’m not anti-Ripple; I’m excited about the opportunities,” he said, dismissively.
Then, a glint in his eye as he reached for the decisive smackdown. “I wish them the best and I think choice is good to have.“
We wish Ripple a swift recovery.