Ripple Labs Managing Director Dilip Rao Talks Asia-Pacific Expansion

dilip3

SEAsia is expanding its international influence in new and exciting ways that will drive economic growth within the region and abroad, according to Dilip Rao, managing director of Ripple Labs’ new office in Sydney.

In response to growing demand for Ripple’s real-time settlement protocol in the region, Ripple Labs opened an office in Sydney, Australia. Dilip said the new facility allows him to directly connect interested Ripple Labs’ partners in the United States and Europe with Asia-Pacific markets.

Dilip has more than 25 years of experience with technology multinationals in technical, sales and marketing roles in Asia. He founded Australia’s first person-to-person payment startup and has consulted banks on innovation. We caught up with Dilip to see how his first month down under was going.

What trends are hitting APAC now that made it an ideal time for expansion into the area?

Well, there are several things going on right now. Singapore initiated G3 Immediate Payments, which replaced the eGiro system and provides real-time domestic clearing and settlement for low value transactions. Singapore—which has 5.5 million person population and the third highest capita income in the world — aims to become a tech hub of the world.

Singapore depends heavily on exports and imports and believes financial infrastructure can deliver competitive advantages. There’s a lot of rivalry in the region to increase economic growth. Now it looks like Singapore has a clear advantage, and there is a growing interest from other countries to catch-up.

There’s also a lot of trade happening between the countries — but don’t expect to see an EU-like region anytime soon. The idea of one currency is not realistic in APAC. So each country has its own currency and it’s own clearing system. But there is still a lot of cross-border trade, which is an important driver for economic growth. Some think ASEAN could overtake the EU in total economic output in the next 10-15 years.

There is also a strategic shift happening to trade in RMB rather than USD for business with China.  This is creating new opportunities for financial institutions for trading partners like Australia.

So where do you find Ripple fitting into the existing ecosystem?

Ripple is the connective tissue that connects bank ledgers. We’re able to connect banks to be able to transact real time, cross-border settlements without friction while allowing countries to retain their currencies and regulatory oversight— we’ve received great positive responses so far from banks in the region.  Banks or clearing houses can use Ripple as an alternative to correspondent banking to facilitate straight through processing.

Right now, our goal is to build awareness and interest in the region and to announce some of our partnerships publicly soon.

It’s important for us to show banks and enterprises that we’re here to support their migration into more competitive financial infrastructure at low cost and risk.

This is our first location outside the US. That’s a big deal. Why there and why now?

There are banks and enterprises can that leverage Ripple to serve the exploding trade and remittance flows in the region. There is a lot of potential for growth opportunities — we wanted to further support our commitment to the region. We’re investing our technical and business resources here, because we believe in the growth capabilities of the Asia-Pacific markets.

Due to growing business interest, it’s imperative we’re on the ground to manage expanding partnership opportunities in the region. The responses have been really fruitful so far, and we’re excited to see that continue to grow.

What do you see  as the long term potential for the area?

Clearly the world sees APAC as the future, dominated by China and India, but with a regional economy that will rival Europe in size.  Half the population of India is under 25 years of age, so they will reap what has been called the demographic dividend.  The US is already repositioning to engage Asia with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Singapore is bustling with European and UK bankers wanting to offer services to Asian enterprises.  So the future is here.

We hope that Ripple can help build a strategic capability for the region to connect with the world and drive global economic growth over the next 50 years.

Follow Ripple on Twitter