AstroPay, a payment services provider for companies like Facebook and Disney in Latin America, announced today the launch of Ripple LatAm, a new business that aspires to make international payments faster and easier by using the internet protocol known as Ripple.
Ripple LatAm, run by founder Andres Bzurovski, will help open the door for businesses across the globe to use Ripple for sending money — instantly and in their local currencies — to businesses and individuals in its coverage area.
If you’re unfamiliar, the Ripple protocol lets individuals or businesses send any type of currency across its network instantly. Like an email network, which allows you to send an email from Gmail to a Yahoo address, the Ripple network enables its users to store money in a wallet in their local currency then send it to someone else who receives it in whatever currency they prefer.
To make it easier to move money on Ripple, “gateways” like Ripple LatAm help individuals get set up on the network. Ripple LatAm users must past strict Know-Your-Customer (KYC) checks which normally take about a day to process, and require two forms of identification, proof of address and additional background checks. After answering a questionnaire to prove the money source is legitimate, the currency exchange or payment process is almost immediate.
According to Bzurovski, the company takes a two percent fee for transactions and an additional .5 percent fee to “cash-out” your currency. While it’s not free, Ripple LatAm could prove attractive compared to services like Western Union, which can charge eight percent to move money.
“It’s a huge deal, the fact that someone can do a foreign exchange from Brazilian Reals to USDs from the comfort of their home with a minimum spread of two perecent and immediately,” Bzurovski said. “And if we add to that, the possibility that that money could be sent anywhere in the world, from the comfort of their home and immediately, it’s a revolution for Latin America.”
At launch, the new company will cater to seven countries in the region, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Argenetina and Uruguay, where the Ripple LatAm is based.
It’s not Ripple’s first expansion overseas either as payment protocol begins to catch on. Fidor Bank, based in Germany, recently introduced the Ripple protocol in its banking system to help facilitate international payments and currency transfers.
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