Reports of a new Ripple-based platform called SendFriend have been circulating the web. The new service will allow users to send money internationally, and the project has been compared to Western Union’s overseas transmissions — a service that similarly allows users to send money across borders. SendFriend, however, will be much less expensive than most traditional services.
Remittances on Ripple
SendFriend will serve as a Ripple-powered payment network targeted at consumers. The project is mainly aimed at users from the Philippines, and it will allow migrant workers and immigrants to send money to their home country inexpensively. SendFriend promises to reduce remittance costs by 65% for its users.
The product is currently in its early access stage, and a more widely-available product will likely be released later this year. SendFriend’s creators are currently obtaining licensing in various states in the U.S., and residents of New Jersey will be the first to send money to the Philippines.
SendFriend was conceived by David Lighton and Banti Gheneti last year. The team initially received funding from MIT, which supports entrepreneurs globally with its Legatum seed grant.
Then, in July 2017, the team traveled to the Philippines in order to secure partnerships and financial backing. The project has since received investments from several major names, including Barclays, Mahindra Finance, and the MasterCard Foundation.
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Ripple itself has also invested $1 million in the project. Beyond that, the extent of Ripple’s involvement with SendFriend is not clear. However, the platform does make use of Ripple’s xRapid protocol, a blockchain solution that can be used to quickly and inexpensively transfer money on the Ripple network.
xRapid became commercially available last month, and SendFriend is just one of many services that have adopted it. Lighton explains the benefits of the platform:
“[Ripple] allows us on the back end to be more efficient with our capital. These are real-time settlements so we don’t have to do pre-funding, we don’t have to park money in the receiving corridor and then manage the foreign exchange risk. We can just do it one by one as the transactions go through.”
The Philippines are a major target for inexpensive payment solutions due to high remittance fees on transfers to the country. Other similar efforts are underway: earlier this year, Ripple vocalized its support for Coins.ph, a crypto exchange based in the Philippines that is also attempting to solve the problem of costly international payments.
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