Western Union has published a new patent which furthers the financial services company’s relationship with cryptocurrency. But the most interesting aspect, Blockchain-based global remittance start-up, Ripple is not mentioned in the patent. The newly published patent outlines a technology for a system which manages recurring transfer notifications and secure payments for a cryptocurrency network.
Ripple and Western Union had confirmed their partnership, earlier this year. Western Union’s CEO, Hikmet Ersek, had said that they were ready to experiment with the Ripple blockchain and XRP. The experiment would integrate XRP into their payment flows. But the trials early results proved to be unsatisfactory according to its CEO.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published the filing documents on Thursday. According to the documents, Western Union seeks to devise a method which will increase the security of electronic payments. Western Union had first applied for the patent back in December 2016. This proposed system ensures that all transactions by senders are authorized by using biometric verification. This biometric verification could be a fingerprint scan, a user voice sample, or even, a retinal scan.
According to the patent application, the system is designed to be a general-purpose tool which accommodates most types of electronic networks. But, the document explicitly notes that the “electronic transfer network may be a cryptocurrency network “in certain embodiments.” The cryptocurrency networks mentioned are Bitcoin, Litecoin, or Peercoin. The patent application reads,
“Thus, in various embodiments, electronic transfer network may be configured to support and perform transfers of various currency types, including traditional and/or digital currencies, centralized and/or de-centralized currencies, cryptocurrencies, and any other medium of exchange (e.g., credit, gift cards or certificates, points in a user point system, etc.), between client devices and/or external systems in different areas, regions, or jurisdictions.”
While the application talks of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin and Peercoin, there’s no mention of XRP. Ripple and its crypto coin, XRP aims to make cross-border payments cheaper, so it’s tailor-made for the money transfer business. Moreover, Ripple and Western Union had partnered to trial xRapid, in a bid to make money transfers cheaper.
But the CEO of Western Union had earlier said that the pilot program hadn’t panned out as they’d planned. In an interview with Fortune, Hikmet Ersek said,
“We are always criticized that Western Union is not cost-efficient, blah blah blah, but we did not see that part of the efficiency yet during our tests. The practical matter is it’s still too expensive.”
The Ripple community, of course, was incensed after this statement. The Blockchain start-up’s senior vice president of product, Asheesh Birla, told Fortune,
“If they were to move volume at scale, then maybe you would see something, but with 10 [transactions], it’s not surprising that they’re not seeing cost savings. They do millions of transactions a month, and I’m not surprised that with 10 transactions it didn’t have earth-shattering results.”
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