Ripple (XRP)–In January, Ripple’s CEO Brad Garlinghouse revealed that his cryptocurrency would be partnering with three of the world’s top five money transfer companies, using XRP for direct liquidity. The announcement came in response to digging by New York Times writer Nathaniel Popper, author of Digital Gold, who argued that few banks–if any–would be willing to use XRP for sending and receiving money around the globe. Speculation quickly pointed to MoneyGram and Western Union as two possible partners with Ripple.
In the following weeks, while the price of XRP tanked in the aftermath of the Coinbase non-listing, Ripple benefited from the official announcement of MoneyGram entering into a partnership with XRapid. Despite representing a tailwind for cryptocurrency adoption, the price of XRP has remained in a steady decline, culminating in an 87% decline in valuation since January’s all time high of 3.80 USD.
Even with the lack of positive price movement in the wake of growing Ripple adoption, certain news outlets are starting to draw a connection between Ripple and one of the world’s largest retail giants: Walmart. While primarily based in the United States, Walmart–a company worth over 255 billion USD–operates 6300 stores world-wide. Even more amazingly, in 2016 over 95% of all Americans spent money at some point in a Walmart store. With all of the crypto-adoption emphasis being placed on Amazon as the first major mover in the market, Walmart represents an even larger opportunity for partnership in both physical transactions and those taking place on a digital stage. Walmart has managed to build an online store to rival that of Amazon’s, with its recent marketing push for free two-day shipping sweetening the deal. In addition, Walmart’s acceptance of cryptocurrency would herald a catastrophic shift in both the general public’s perception of the technology, as well as Wall Street backing.
Connecting the Dots Between Walmart and Ripple
Since 2014, Walmart has been operating a successful store-to-store money transfer service called Walmart2Walmart. During that time, Walmart also offered customers traditional money order transfers around the globe through an in-store partnership with MoneyGram. Last week, the two companies announced they would be taking their partnership a step forward. Titled, “Walmart2World,” the service constitutes a rebranding of traditional MoneyGram features–which now include the addition of XRP and XRapid–as a way for Walmart customers to transfer money globally.
We’re excited to partner with Walmart to launch Walmart2World, Powered by MoneyGram. Customers can send money from #Walmart US to any MGI location in 200 countries! Read more here https://t.co/NdbeeiIZoK #MoneyGram #moneygramnews #moneytransfer pic.twitter.com/XVVe7Jtp1D
— MoneyGram (@MoneyGram) April 3, 2018
MoneyGram has already established itself as a strong proponent of the features of XRP in terms of cost-saving and increased efficiency. With the new relationship between the two companies, it’s possible we will see a spilling over of cryptocurrency into the commerce giant. While it still represents a long shot for Walmart to accept Ripple in the next year or two, it’s hard to imagine that the conversation has not been tabled–at least to a small degree–by Brad Garlinghouse and his team at Ripple, or in an inner circle of Walmart executives.
What Incentive Does Walmart have to Use Ripple?
With the announcement of the partnership between Walmart and MoneyGram for global payment transfers, Walmart has essentially adopted Ripple via XRapid for its money order service. Again, it represents a long-shot to imagine Walmart accepting XRP for in-store and online payments at any point in the near future, but there is some incentive for the retail giant to look in Ripple’s direction:
- Crossover From the MoneyGram Partnership. There is a lot more going on at Walmart’s headquarters than concern over how to use cryptocurrency for payment. However, it’s possible that if XRapid provides a substantial improvement to MoneyGram’s operating costs and bottom line–which many analysts are predicting given the fee-less, instant transactions of XRP–it’s possible that a cabal of Ripple advocates within MoneyGram could push the idea in Walmart’s direction. Or, more than likely, executives in Walmart’s hierarchy responsible for overseeing the Walmart2World program could propose the idea of integrating Ripple into other Walmart-related features, if the currency proves successful in the global money-order industry.
- A Step Over Amazon. To younger, more trendy Americans, Walmart represents a bit of antiquity: one of the last major retailers clinging to the brick and mortar industry. For years now, Amazon has been held up as the model of future commerce. Not only does Amazon offer superior features in terms of shopping (being able to find the product you want, at the best price available), but the company has been maniacal about addressing the traditional barriers to online shopping: namely, ease of payment and fast delivery. Amazon Prime’s Two Day Delivery feature has made shopping online the hassle free, superior alternative to traditional stores. Walmart is not the type of company to step aside as Amazon further erodes their market share. Over the past several years, Walmart has been adamant about growing its online presence. Adopting Ripple, and thereby signaling to both investors and consumers that Walmart is willing to enter the industry of cryptocurrency, could be the sort of innovation Walmart needs to gain advantage over Jeff Bezos’s Everything Store.
- Cost Saving Measures. Lost in the speculation of Walmart adopting Ripple for payments is the even greater possibility that Walmart could look to integrate XRP as a way of improving cost-saving measures for the company. Even without accepting the currency directly from customers, Walmart could find ways to benefit from the free, instant transactions of XRP. Walmart functions as a global enterprise, with invoice orders being filled in countries around the world. In addition, they operate one of the largest transportation fleets, with both trucking and shipping an integral part to the company being able to compete with warehouse prices. Ripple, as a payment system and using XRP for liquidity, could be used to cut payment costs and increase the efficiency of these transactions.
Even without directly exposing itself to the volatility of cryptocurrency with XRP transactions, it’s very possible that Walmart could look to Ripple for its cost-saving features. In fact, in the stepping stone of adoption, the first move for Brad Garlinghouse and Ripple could be in building integration within the company, first through the foot-in-the-door approach of the MoneyGram partnership. With Walmart taking interest in Ripple as an improved payment and money transfer platform, a natural extension of this process could then be in allowing customers to purchase with the cryptocurrency through their online store.
Most of the talk surrounding Walmart and Ripple will remain speculation for now. But there is incentive on behalf of the retail giant to at least consider the possibility of XRP integration in the future.