Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank has signed up with RippleNet, opening up remittance payment corridors between the Kingdom and US and Asian markets.
The agreement is the first struck between Ripple and a Saudi bank in the wake of a February agreement with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to create a pilot programme and sandbox for KSA banks to test out connections with Ripple for instant settlement of cross-border transfers.
The Middle East is one of the largest sources of remittances in the world. According to the World Bank, $308 million dollars were sent into Saudi Arabia, and $37 billion in remittances were sent from the country in 2016.
For NCB, the second-largest bank in KSA, the connection to RippleNet will enable it to hook up with other financial institutions on the network, and open up new markets in North America and Asia, beginning with Singapore.
Separately, Japanese financial conglomerate SBI has revealed plans to roll out an iOS and Android application running Ripple for domestic transfers. Similar to the consumer-facing mobile application used by Santander for cross-border transactions, SBI's service will initially be made available to three banks in the Autumn before being rolled out across the wider SBI Ripple Asia consortium of 61 Japanese banks.