Cross-border payments continue to make inroads in Asia, rendered through mobile means.
To that end, the largest telecommunications carrier in Singapore, Singtel, said this past week that it launched Via, billed as the first cross-border payment alliance in the region. That alliance, said the carrier, has been in partnership with Thai digital bank Kasikornbank. According to ZDnet, the alliance will also include partners such as the Ping An Insurance Group’s Ping An eWallet in China. The service will expand to firms such as Airtel in India and Globe in the Philippines, among others.
Via brings Singtel Dash with AIS Global Pay and Rabbit LINE Pay, which in turn, according to ZDNet, enable QR code-based mobile payments in Asia.
In terms of current users, Singtel says it has 500,000 Signal Dash users, and there are over five million Rabbit LINE Pay users in Thailand.
"The Via alliance is aimed at unifying Asia's fragmented payments scene by connecting different mobile wallet systems across the region," Singtel International Group CEO Arthur Lang said. “We see a tremendous opportunity to drive the adoption of mobile payments, which supports ASEAN's push toward financial inclusion and vision of a single digital market."
Ripple, Banks and Blockchain
In further cross-border news, Ripple said it has debuted a report on “blockchain in payments” – taking note of the traction being gained In blockchain-based payments this year and beyond, with an eye on cross-border transactions. Surveys of several hundred payments professionals, as noted by ambcrypto.com, showed that as many as 75 percent were “very interested” in adopting digital assets as a base currency for settlements. The sentiment comes in tandem with news that Ripple’s crypto for cross-border payments will go live, with participation from three financial firms.
Various news outlets, including Ripple, have said that xRapid, which is geared toward international payments, is commercially available and, as reported, can settle transactions in a matter of minutes.
The offering will be used, reported the newswire, by Mercury FX and Cuallix. It will also be used by Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union, according to reports.
This is the first commercial application of XRP being used in the financial services space, said reports. The firm has noted that transactions can be done without pre-funded currency accounts at local banks, instead converting currencies by way of digital asset exchanges.
The Fed, Too
Separately, and a bit closer to home, in reference to U.S. payments infrastructure, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard said in remarks made Wednesday that the Federal Reserve is seeking public comment on what she said could be “potential steps … to support the vision of RTGS [real-time gross settlement] of faster payments.”
The call for public comment is being published in the Federal Register. Illustrating possible scenarios in her speech, Brainard said Reserve banks could – by way of example – develop a service for RTGS that would be available 24/7. In this instance, funds flow on a payment-by-payment basis, and with interbank settlement that can be done even on weekends and holidays.
The Federal Reserve is also seeking comment on the possibility of developing what Brainard called "a liquidity management tool that would operate 24/7,” and which would underpin services for real-time interbank settlement of faster payments.
Such initiatives, said the Fed governor, could benefit small business owners who have in the past faced constraints on cash flow. In her remarks, she cited surveys that have found that as many as 40 percent of adults in the U.S. would need to borrow or raise funds by selling items. Real-time payments, as promoted by the Federal Reserve, could also help stakeholders sidestep overdraft fees or collections efforts, or the need for SMBs to tap short-term financing.