The Association of South Eastern Asian Nations (ASEAN) continues to make its case as one of the world’s most exciting testing grounds for blockchain, cross border payments, and digital assets. Ripple has been part of much of this pioneering work with partners like SBI Remit, CIMB Group, Siam Commercial Bank, Mitsubishi Corporation and Standard Chartered, the Japan Bank Consortium, and many others.
This high level of experimentation is driven by the perfect combination of need and opportunity. The region features large, connected and itinerant populations across countries, yet has one of the globe’s most expensive remittance networks. In response, both fintechs and incumbents have demonstrated a willingness to innovate in pursuit of a solution. And they have been supported by regulators that have established a solid framework for the use of blockchain and digital assets.
Amidst this frenzy of activity and advancement, it’s easy to forget the human stories that sit at the center of this change. Individuals striking out in pursuit of better lives often suffer because of outdated financial services.
Siriwat Jongjairak is one of the 45,000 workers born in Thailand that are living abroad in Japan. He moved to Hiroshima, Japan where he holds down three jobs: as a translator for Cooperative Agencies, as a factory translator, and as a Japanese tutor in a language school.
He is appreciative of the support and head start his mother gave him in life, so he sends home a portion of his earnings to her every month. She uses that money for the family’s living expenses in Thailand.
He’s been frustrated by the high foreign exchange rate between Japanese Yen and the Thai Baht. For Thai workers sending money home, a single payment transfer can require multiple trips to a bank to complete and up to 12 extra hours of work just to afford the transfer fee. He also wishes he could get the money to his mother faster, rather than waiting the standard number of days for transfer.
Sucharinee Pinchaikhiaw also moved from Thailand to Japan for work. She spends her days hard at work in the fields because her family back in Thailand relies on her income to help with living expenses. It’s a difficult life, and she’s frustrated that the remittance process is not easier.
In particular, she does not like having to carry multiple remittance cards for fear of using the wrong one. She also wishes that the services were faster and lower cost.
These are the people whose life stories motivate our teams at Ripple. In concert with local financial services providers all over the world, we are working hard to transform the remittance experience on behalf of Siriwat, Sucharinee and the millions of others that live and work abroad.
Ripple’s blockchain technology has already been a big part of improving the Thailand-Japan remittance corridor. With Ripple, payment flows between SBI Remit and Siam Commercial Bank have become faster, more transparent and affordable for workers like Siriwat and Sucharinee. Sucharinee, in particular, appreciates that a cheaper, faster remittance process puts more money in the pockets of her family in Thailand, and is excited to see the service expand to include more banks in the future.
In the coming year, Ripple resolves to work closely with our partners and RippleNet customers around the world to deliver even faster-paced change and more meaningful innovation for their customers in the ASEAN region and beyond.