American Express inks blockchain deal: Will use tech to pay UK folk who bank with Santander

Ripple effect will later expand, says firm

Blockchain tech found another friend in American Express and UK customers of Santander. Well, sort of.

The firm has slipped inside its international payments platform the network of the digital startup Ripple, according to a press release.

The network allows select American Express business customers to make payments to businesses in the UK that bank with Santander. American Express boasted that decentralised systems cut out intermediaries that could slow down international transactions, as well as offering some extra visibility into their costs and how they proceed.

However, it's a bit of a shift from some other international vendors wading into the distributed digital payments world, such as IBM or Mastercard, which have gone off with their own blockchain APIs.

Ripple has also received a bit of negative attention, including from the US Treasury Department, which fined it $700,000 (PDF) in 2015 for several regulatory issues. And it's locked in a legal suit with R3 over options terms' on a purchase of its digital currency, XRP.

José Luis Calderón, global head of Santander Global Transaction Banking, said in a statement: "Collaborating with forward-thinking businesses has enabled us to deliver this cutting-edge, secure, friction-free payment solution and extend our Simple, Personal, Fair philosophy to American Express and their customers.”

Amex told us: "We're initiating the new transaction channel with a single partner – Santander UK – specifically for payments from American Express customers in the US to their suppliers in the UK. Over time, however, we expect to expand it to additional partners, countries and currencies." ®

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