MoneyGram is the new player on the blockchain, and will be rewarded handsomely by Ripple, a prominent cryptocurrency company.
One of the world’s largest money-transfer companies announced on Monday that it has agreed to a deal with blockchain company Ripple that involves an investment of up to $50 million at prices nearly three times the closing price of MoneyGram stock.
MoneyGram will utilize Ripple’s xRapid product, leveraging the currency (XRP) in foreign exchange settlement as part of MoneyGram’s cross-border payment process. The partnership supports the companies’ shared goal of improving the settlement of cross-border payments by increasing efficiency and reducing cost through RippleNet.
Through this partnership, which will have an initial term of two years, Ripple will become MoneyGram’s key partner for cross-border settlement using digital assets.
Ripple agreed to purchase $30 million worth of newly created MoneyGram shares at $4.10 apiece and can purchase an additional $20 million of common stock or warrants at its discretion at a minimum of $4.10.
MoneyGram shares closed Monday at $1.45, but exploded higher after the announcement, close to $4 a share — or more than 150% higher — in after-hours trading. The cost of an XRP coin jumped more than 5% immediately after the announcement.
“I’m extremely excited about Ripple’s investment in MoneyGram and the related strategic partnership,” said Alex Holmes, MoneyGram chairman and CEO. “As the payments industry evolves, we are focused on continuing to improve our platform and utilizing the best technology as part of our overall settlement process.”
“Through our partnership with Ripple, we will also have the opportunity to further enhance our operations and streamline our global liquidity management,” Holmes added. “Since our initial partnership announced in January 2018, we have gotten to know Ripple and are looking forward to further leveraging the strengths of both of our businesses.”
Currently, MoneyGram relies on traditional foreign exchange markets to meet its settlement obligations, which require advance purchases of most currencies.
“We are very pleased with the terms of the Ripple investment which supports the company with permanent capital and additional liquidity,” said MoneyGram chief financial officer LarryAngelilli. “This partnership also provides MoneyGram with the opportunity to improve operating efficiencies and increase earnings and free cash flow.”
Through this strategic partnership, MoneyGram will be able to settle key currencies and match the timing of funding with its settlement requirements, reducing operating costs and working capital needs.
“This is a huge milestone in helping to transform cross-border payments,” said Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple. “MoneyGram is one of the largest money transfer companies in the world and the partnership will continue to further the reach of Ripple’s network. I look forward to a long-term, very strategic partnership between our companies.”
MoneyGram said in Monday’s announcement that it is nearing a refinancing of a loan and revolving credit facilities in the wake of the investment. The company has nearly $900 million in total debt, according to its most recent financial statements.
For Ripple, the deal gives it a chance to prove its blockchain technology can bring down the time and cost involved in moving money across borders. The company has been testing its approach with MoneyGram since early 2018.
“By matching this new, yet unproven market for digital currency with an existing money transfer service, it only helps to enable liquidity and also serves to further validate the viability of this currency,” commented Ronald Chakler, American Portfolios senior managing director.
“Coincidentally, Facebook just announced their own foray into this arena with Libra to be used within their platform,” Chakler added. “This could serve to help with some of the skepticism that has been associated with the blockchain, cryptocurrency industry and prove that this medium of exchange can be brought to scale. As more major corporations step up and embrace this technology, it can only help to make this technology more acceptable.”
Facebook announced plans on Tuesday to launch a cryptocurrency called Libra in 2020. Libra will be overseen by a Facebook subsidiary called Calibra, a nonprofit group based in Geneva.
The currency will initially be backed by Facebook’s expertise, but 28 founding partners have signed up to launch and govern the venture, including Visa, Mastercard, eBay, Paypal, Spotify, Lyft, and Uber.