The National Bank of Kuwait has launched a product they're calling "NBK Direct Remit," a blockchain-based product which uses RippleNet for cross-border payments from within the GCC region.
The initial launch of the product only supports payments to nearby Jordan, but they intend to launch in at least 15 more countries soon. According to the bank's website, this product will help preserve NBK's dominance as the country's primary way of moving money.
Established in 1952, the NBK is the largest financial institution in terms of assets in Kuwait. Per the bank's 2017 annual report, the NBK has over $86.3bn in total assets.
"We're excited that they have begun moving live payments across our blockchain network on behalf of their customers"
The NBK has reportedly become the first financial establishment in Kuwait to implement a remittance product — "NBK Direct Remit" — for international live payments based on RippleNet's blockchain technology. The product will purportedly speed up cross-border money transfers.
Dimitrios Kokosioulis, the deputy CEO of group operations and technology, said that the blockchain-based solution allows the bank's customers to "make money transfers within seconds" and "anytime of the day." Kokosioulis added that the service will also be available in Jordan, and will subsequently expand to other countries.
Marcus Teacher, Ripple's SVP, customer success, said that the company considers NBK an "important partner in the region."
"We're excited that they have begun moving live payments across our blockchain network on behalf of their customers," he told local news outlet Arabian Business.
"We will continue to work with NBK to connect them to more RippleNet partners so their customers can make quicker, cheaper payments to anywhere in the world," he added.
Ripple has already partnered with a number of banks and companies around the region to use its blockchain technology for instant payments or remittances, including RAKBANK and UAE Exchange, which in February announced it will use RippleNet to offer real-time remittance services to a number of banks in Asia.
In November, Malaysian lending giant CIMB Group Holdings Bhd joined RippleNet. CIMB will integrate Ripple's XCurrent product, a software solution for expediting cross-border payments, for its "SpeedSend" remittance product.
Also that month, Japanese bank and financial services firm Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. said it will use Ripple to create a new cross-border payments service to Brazil through partnership with Banco Bradesco. The product aims to "assist the banks as they work toward commercializing a high-speed, transparent and traceable cross-border payments solution between Japan and Brazil."
Kuwait is not the only MENA country integrating blockchain in important ways. Dubai has been leading the way, recently hosting a conference for various blockchain-oriented projects and expressing its desire to be a leading destination for ICOs to do business. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also reportedly working on a cross-border payment solution.