Coaldale hosts the 2014 ATB Financial Canadian Masters Curling Championships.
Words: Barry Strader
It's something that used to take anywhere from two to six business days to complete.
But thanks to the Ripple Global Settlement Network (ATB is one of the first worldwide financial institutions to join) and its blockchain technology, ATB completed a $1,000 payment to Germany's ReiseBank in a few seconds. The Canadian-first gained the attention of worldwide media, including the Globe and Mail, the UK's Financial Times and Amercian publication Fortune magazine.
“I don’t think you have to be a technical expert to understand the benefits to consumers and businesses,” Curtis Stange, chief strategy and operations officer at ATB, told the Globe and Mail. “ATB is interested because we believe this technology can improve the experience and improve the lives of consumers and businesses in how they operate.”
A blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously-growing list of data records hardened against tampering and revision. Unlike Bitcoin's permissionless blockchain, Ripple is a permission-based blockchain, meaning you have to be a member of the network to participate. Twelve of the world's top 50 banks are already members of the Ripple network.
“At the end of the day, the great thing about the technology is it is the great democratiser,” Tim Wan, ATB's director of innovation, told the Financial Times. “It is not the institution you trust but the transaction. If the funds exist then the transaction will happen.”
Cross-border payments using blockchain technology will be available to ATB customers in the coming months, as more financial institutions join the Ripple network.
“This is very much in the experimental stage. There is still a lot to learn,” added Stange in the Globe and Mail. “The ability to move money bank to bank is really the beginning of proving you can move the payment. The learning will be, ‘What does the front-end look like for the customer, in terms of how do they engage with us?’”