Visa has bought Earthport, a UK-based payment company that provides cross-border payments solutions to banks and businesses while leveraging blockchain technology, for $250.6 million.The Earthport acquisition boosts Visa’s cross-border payment service business at a time when competition in the international payments sector is shifting towards blockchain.
Why Earthport Acquisition is Important to Visa
Earthport is a financial services firm based in London that aims to streamline and simplify cross-border money transactions by providing its clients with a single integration to connect to its global payment network in order to clear and settle funds locally. The company provides banks and remittance firms a lower cost method for cross-border payments by enabling them to have a relationship with a single company within the payment channel instead of with several ones.
It partnered with blockchain-based payment firm, Ripple, in 2015 so that it can integrate RippleNet into its existing payment network to improve international payments and settlements. Ripple’s technology helps banks speed up and streamline the way they transfer and receive payments around the world.
Earthport acquisition comes less than two months after it was reported Earthport’s share value price have slumped more than 28 percent due to losses and growing expenses. At the time the firm said it was looking to employ a “fundamental” shift to its strategy.
The growth of cross-border payments
When completed, the acquisition of Earthport will make Visa a powerful ally of Ripple, which is competing with SWIFT to transform the cross border payment industry. Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse was quick to point out last November the growing number of SWIFT clients that are currently using Ripple.
Garlinghouse said at the time:
“It was not too long ago that SWIFT asserted that it didn’t see the Blockchain technology as a solution to the correspondent banking system. Now we have got over 100 of their clients saying they disagree with this view.”
Garlinghouse is even bullish about Ripple’s token, XRP, as he has predicted that XRP token could surpass Bitcoin (BTC) since XRP is not a security token unlike BTC.
Visa, whose cross-border payments is said to have grown by 10 percent in 2018, has been focused on expanding its cross-border services as it believes improving inefficiencies such as slow speed, high fees and opacity is critical to scaling cross border payments and international trade. Its blockchain-based payment platform Visa B2B Connect is expected to be released in full in the first quarter of this year. Access to Earthport’s technology could ultimately allow Visa to accelerate its own push to revolutionize cross border payments.