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MIT Technology Review

Don’t get too excited about Western Union testing a cryptocurrency

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The payment giant has confirmed that it’s testing a cryptocurrency developed by Ripple—but “testing” is the key word here.

What’s happening: Western Union will trial a cryptocurrency token developed by Ripple, called XRP, as a “bridge currency” to let financial institutions settle payments faster and more cheaply. In theory, it could start a reinvention of how banks and money transfer services make payments.

Good news for Ripple: So far, most of the roughly 100 institutions that have used Ripple’s blockchain have refrained from using XRP, choosing instead to just log digital IOUs and settle in fiat currency. That one of the world’s largest money transfer services will test the token is a boon. (It follows similar news last month from MoneyGram, but that’s smaller fry.)

But: It’s just a test. MoneyGram and Western Union aren’t committed to doing anything with XRP beyond testing it. Both companies have gone out of their way to make that clear.