- The National Bank of Kuwait wants to remain as the country’s primary channel for money transfers
- The American cryptocurrency company Ripple has been strengthening its network in the Middle East
- NBK Direct Remit will make it possible for customers to send money to relatives and friends within seconds
The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) recently launched NBK Direct Remit, a money transfer service that utilises RippleNet. The blockchain-based product will make it easier for migrants and citizens to transfer money internationally, according to the national bank. However, there is still no mention as to how affordable its overseas transfer rates will be.
NBK Direct Remit is still in its initial stages and only supports transfers to Jordan at this time. The plan, according to the bank, is to launch in 15 countries in the coming months.
Based on a press release sent out by the national bank, NBK Direct Remit will preserve the national bank’s dominance in sending money abroad. The bank was established in the 50s. Based on the bank’s 2017 report, NBK has assets amounting to $86.3 billion.
The national bank is the first financial institution to launch a blockchain-based remittance product in Kuwait, according to reports. The NBK says that it will speed up transfers coming from the country.
The Deputy CEO of Group Operations and Technology at the National Bank of Kuwait Dimitrios Kokosioulis told reporters that the new product allows its customers to “make money transfers within seconds” at “anytime of the day”. Kokosioulis also noted that the service will expand to other places soon.
Ripple is happy about the deal, based on an Arabian Business report. In an interview, Ripple’s Senior Vice President Marcus Teacher said that the bank is an “important partner in the region”.
“We’re excited that they have begun moving live payments across our blockchain network on behalf of their customers”, Teacher told the local news outlet. “We will continue to work with NBK to connect them to more RippleNet partners, so their customers can make quicker, cheaper payments to anywhere in the world”, he added.
Ripple has been pushing for expansion since the launch of its network. It already has partners in the region, many of which are banks and other financial services companies. This includes UAE Exchange and RAKBANK.
Back in November, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd of Malaysia joined the Ripple Network. The lending giant will reportedly integrate one of Ripple’s products to expedite international payments. CIMB owns remittance product SpeedSend.
Kuwait is not the only MENA country integrating blockchain in important ways. Dubai has been leading the way, recently hosting a conference for various blockchain-oriented projects and expressing its desire to be a leading destination for ICOs to do business. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also reportedly working on a cross-border payment solution.
The American crypto giant Ripple recently opened an office in Dubai as well, an indication of its interest in serving the Middle East. According to observers, the company’s decision to set up an office in the city is a good choice because Dubai has been at the forefront when it comes to blockchain-oriented projects. Reports add that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are also developing their own cross-border payment solutions.
Despite the many issues concerning cryptocurrencies back at home, Ripple continues to expand. RippleNet partnered with InstaReM too to make its way to Southeast Asia.
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A previous version of the article incorrectly referenced the Kuwait Central Bank, not the National Bank of Kuwait. We apologize for the error.