After recent news that the South African Reserve bank has launched a blockchain proof of concept for blockchain-based interbank clearing and settlement, it is increasingly clear that blockchain technology is being taken incredibly seriously within the financial services industry. Like with the internet, those who don’t start preparing or adapting their businesses to be able to compete with companies leveraging this technology, run the risk of being left behind.

We had the opportunity to have a chat to South African Alastair Constance, founder of Mercury FX, global currency specialists, who has realised that when it comes to international remittances, blockchain technology is a game changer.

As a company that specialises in offering clients competitive exchange rates and lower transactions fees for international transactions, blockchain technology suits their use case perfectly. By leveraging this technology they could further reduce the cost of international payments, increase the speed of transactions significantly, and provide access to liquidity that often becomes a bottleneck with international payments.

To adapt and ensure their business is at the forefront of technology adoption, Mercury has joined a number of banks and financial service providers in deciding to partner with Ripple. Ripple currently offers three products, xCurrent, xRapid and xVia and is well known as one of the leaders in the blockchain space for international remittances.

We had a chat with Alastair about this decision and the benefits it will bring to Mercury’s customers and business:

Tell Us About Mercury

A: Mercury is a ten year old company started by South Africans in London, which has grown into an international business with offices in Hong Kong, Cape Town and London. We are a regulated payments firm in all three jurisdictions.

Our customer-focused approach, coupled with a progressive attitude toward technology adoption, has put us at the forefront of payment services for companies and individuals. In the next two years we hope to grow our footprint with two new global offices and to massively extend our speed and edge through blockchain technology, offering our clients the fastest, cheapest money transmission service around.

What impact does Mercury believe that Blockchain technology will have on the financial services sector?

A: It will be seismic. The old ways still rely enormously on outdated payment technology and archaic messaging systems so payments will fundamentally change. When it comes to other financial services the effects might be even more profound. One obvious case is ICOs. What this means for the global exchanges is fascinating, and although there is currently a coordinated attack on blockchain technology and firms from the ‘financial establishment’, the ‘new anti-establishment’ will prevail in changing the ways that money is raised, transacted, moved and earned.

Why have you decided to partner with Ripple?

A: As a payments firm we were looking for a way to improve our cost and time-saving proposition. Ripple is a utilitarian coin and XRP provides us with a way to make faster, cheaper payments that will benefit our clients. Why wouldn’t we embrace the future so that our clients pay less to do business?

What product of Ripple will you be using and tell us a bit about it.

A: We will be using xRapid. This product will provide our business with access to an on-demand liquidity pool of digital assets, which will eliminate the need for us to hold nostro accounts in destination currencies. Not only will this benefit our customers by lowering costs associated with international payments, but it will speed up the process significantly. From an infrastructure perspective it will also provide standardisation and a strong and consistent legal framework that will allow us to transact with banks around the world, without the requirement for bilateral agreements in each jurisdiction.

What does the roadmap from here look like for Mercury’s integration of Ripple?

A: A long road of software integration and testing prior to very precise test payments to chosen jurisdictions. Since there is zero room for error when making currency payments internationally, we have to be 100% certain that we have a zero margin of error prior to rollout.


You can find out more about Mercury on their website