Thursday 15 September 2016 2:01 pm

Blockchain startup Ripple raises $55m from Standard Chartered and Accenture

Blockchain startup Ripple, one of several groups working with banks to create standards for the distributed ledger technology, has landed millions more in funding, with Standard Chartered and Accenture among new investors jumping on board the blockchain bandwagon.

The venture arm of Siam Commercial Bank, SCB Digital Ventures, and Japan's SBI Holdings also participated in the $55m (£41.5m) series B funding round alongside additional investment from existing backers Santander, Seagate Technology and Venture 51.

It brings the total funding for Ripple to $93m and the startup also boasts backing from top Silicon Valley venture capitalists GV (formerly Google Ventures), Andreessen Horowitz and IDG Capital Partners.

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Separately to the new cash injection, Standard Chartered and Siam Bank will also join the group's consortium of banks alongside several other fresh institutions, including Westpac, National Australian Bank (NAB) Mizuho, BMO Group and Shanghai Huarui Bank.

Ripple is working with the institutions to apply the technology, which has piqued interest across the finance industry for its potential ability to automate settlements and transactions, reducing costs and speeding things up.

The startup claimed a major milestone earlier this year when it said it had started using the technology in an app for making international payments being used by Santander staff.

With the new cash it will hire new staff internationally, and grow customers and the number of strategic partnerships which already counts 15 of the top 50 banks in the world. 

“Accenture has worked alongside Ripple for some time now, helping our banking clients understand and implement distributed financial technology,” said Richard Lumb, group chief executive of financial services at Accenture, about the investment.

“But the benefits of distributed ledger (DLT) could go further, with real-time reporting capabilities and fraud detection for example, having disruptive applications across industries. As such, and in addition to this investment by Accenture Ventures, we have formed an alliance with Ripple to investigate new ways to help clients use their technology, leveraging Accenture’s deep industry expertise.”

Ripple chief executive and co-founder Chris Larsen said: “2016 has proven to be the year where the most forward-thinking financial institutions are actually using blockchain technologies for payments and settlement rather than as an experiment.

“The continued growth of the Ripple network represents a major endorsement of our open approach to connecting the world’s banks and their customers, and together we are building a modern payments system to enable new economic opportunities and the seamless flow of value around the world.”

Standard Chartered said the partnership would accelerate its digital plans.

“With over $155 trillion of cross-border payments being made between businesses annually, it is crucial that we continue to innovate to make international payments easier and faster not just for our clients but also for the future of the payments industry,” said the bank's global head of digitisation, client access and transaction banking Gautam Jain.

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Several blockchain groups have sought to attract the big banks and financial institutions in the race to bring blockchain to business.

BMO Group and Mizuho, SBI Holdings, Westpac and Santander are also part of another blockchain consortium, R3.

Accenture and Santander have also invested in another blockchain consortium, Digital Asset Holdings, which earlier this year raised $60m from top investors such as Goldman Sachs and IBM.

Investment in blockchain from ventures capitalists alone hit $290m in the first half of the year, according to Juniper Research.