Ripple wants to target the Chinese market with its distributed ledger technology designed to speed up cross-border payments, an executive at the firm told CNBC.
"China is definitely of interest, it is definitely a target," Jeremy Light, vice president of European Union strategic accounts at Ripple, told CNBC in a phone interview. "China is definitely a country and region of interest."
Earlier this year, the blockchain company struck a deal with Hong Kong-based financial services firm LianLian International, aimed at powering the latter's cross-border transactions between China, the U.S. and Europe. It is not clear whether Ripple's technology is being deployed by LianLian yet.
Blockchain, also known as distributed ledger, is the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. It records transactions across multiple locations, rather than one centralized server. Ripple's distributed ledger technology is different to bitcoin's, however, as transactions are validated by a network of independent servers — owned by banks, retailers and traders — rather than the "miners" that validate transactions on bitcoin's public blockchain network.
If it were to seek an entry into the Chinese market, Ripple's focus would unlikely be on advancing the adoption of cryptocurrency XRP, as Beijing has clamped down on the trading of virtual currencies. China last year banned initial coin offerings (ICOs), a controversial means of financial technology start-ups raising funds through the sale of new digital tokens.
Ripple currently has more than 100 financial institutions signed up to its network, including Santander, UniCredit, UBS and Standard Chartered. But with just one Chinese client, the firm would have a long way to go before making waves in the country. China is home to a number of large fintech (financial technology) firms, with payment apps like Ant Financial's Alipay and Tencent's WeChat Pay proving popular with Chinese consumers.
Elsewhere in Asia, Ripple has created an app called Money Tap in Japan, in partnership with 61 domestic lenders. The app is designed to allow banks to settle round-the-clock payments in the country.
Most banks and financial firms are uninterested in the cryptocurrency side of Ripple's offering, however. Ripple is mostly known for its digital token, which is used to essentially bridge payments from one currency to another.
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