Ripple Labs Taps Kahina Van Dyke — Is This XRP’s Game Changer?

Ripple Labs has announced the appointment of former global financial services team leader at Facebook, Kahina Van Dyke. Van Dyke joins Ripple as the senior vice president of business and corporate development. Given her extensive background in payments solutions and her credibility in the banking sector, could this be a game changer for XRP?

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Bye Bye Birdie — Farewell Facebook, Hello Ripple Labs

Van Dyke’s role at Facebook was focused on forming partnerships between the social media giant and financial services companies such as Visa, Mastercard, Western Union, Citibank, and PayPal. Facebook’s goal was to enable users to send payments using Facebook’s platform. Van Dyke is said to have been instrumental in the Facebook-Mastercard deal, designed to enable small businesses in Africa to accept payments through the social media platform.

Prior to her role at the Menlo Park-based behemoth, Van Dyke had over twenty years of experience working in the financial services sector at the likes of Mastercard and Citibank. Given her strong relationships in the sector, Van Dyke’s appointment might prove Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse’s masterstroke in his bid to expand the use of xRapid in the banking industry.

Ripple Labs xRapid

Ripple Makes Waves in Currents, Not Rapids

Currently deployed by over 60 banks worldwide and with a particularly strong presence in Northeast Asia, xCurrent is Ripple Labs’ flagship global payments processing solution. But xCurrent does not use Ripple XRP, the cryptocurrency. The company and CEO are both being sued for allegedly conducting “what is essentially a never-ending initial coin offering” relating to the release and sale of XRP.

Ripple XRP fuels xRapid, which, as described by the company:

“… uniquely uses a digital asset, XRP, to offer on-demand liquidity, which dramatically lowers costs while enabling real-time payments in emerging markets. Built for enterprise use, XRP offers banks and payment providers a highly efficient, scalable, reliable liquidity option to service cross-border payments.”

Given the volatility of cryptocurrencies, Ripple has struggled to find partners willing to utilize xRapid because of its reliance on XRP. If Ripple Labs could convince banks to use xRapid as well as xCurrent, the company may find an argument that XRP is not a security subject to SEC regulation, but a mechanism offering frictionless cross-border payments for banks and other financial institutions.

Were XRP to become decentralized to the point of fueling global payments and inter-bank transactions, one of its darker clouds will have been lifted. The company has had little trouble attracting customers to xCurrent, so its recruitment of a known financial services sector relationship builder may suggest an intention to encourage the adoption of XRP within the banking industry. Per Ripple:

“Throughout her career, Van Dyke has proven that financial services and technology, when working together, can dramatically improve the lives of people, businesses and communities all around the world. Her time leading global teams within the traditional financial services industry — most notably at Mastercard and Citibank — has afforded her insight into how sophisticated risk mitigation and compliance frameworks enable more reliable, timely services.”

Ripple Labs heat kettle

Payments Solutions Industry Heats Up

The payments solutions sector was perhaps the one area of technology given little attention during the dotcom and later smartphone booms. Micropayments, remittances, and cross-border transactions have been largely overlooked for more glamorous pursuits such as messaging apps, social media platforms, and online marketplaces. Western Union and Swift dominated the cross-border transaction landscape, with Visa and Mastercard controlling retail and online payments.

The controversial and expensive payments solution PayPal, ousted by EBay earlier this year in favor of Amsterdam-based Adyen, was the primary exception. Blockchain technology is set to fundamentally disrupt the industry.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s Square app has seen rapid growth recently as merchants continue to seek cheaper ways to accept payments. Goldman Sachs-backed Circle is the crypto equivalent of Square, and is currently working on issuing a U.S. dollar-backed cryptocurrency, USDC. Clover is a California-based startup offering point-of-sale solutions.

But at the interbank level, Ripple’s major competitors are legacy wire service provider Swift and JPMorgan Chase’s blockchain startup, Quorum. Quorum was led by Amber Baldet, who has since left to start her own company, Clovyr. Quorum has struggled to land customers, possibly because of its strong links to the bank. JPMorgan is now considering offloading the blockchain project.

One way or another, Van Dyke joining Ripple Labs is a significant milestone in the startup’s brief history. Time will tell exactly what her appointment will mean to the company and to XRP.

Have your say. Does Ripple Labs’ tapping of Van Dyke indicate a renewed effort to promote the use of XRP among banks?


Images via Pixabay

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