What happened on Wednesday night was a small sign that the Bitcoin boom continues unabated.
— Fortune (@FortuneMagazine) April 27, 2015
That same night The Wall Street Journal spotted a tweet revealing that UBS, the financial services company, is looking to hire software developers to explore the block chain—the transaction-tracking technology that underpins Bitcoin—and “smart contracts,” computer programs that can automatically form, verify, and enforce agreements between parties.
decrypt(‘frnepu sbe n punyyratr ng HOF ba gur oybpxpunva’)
— Alex Batlin (@AlexBatlin) April 29, 2015
The tweet, which challenged potential candidates to decrypt a message, came from Alex Batlin, the head of UBS’s new tech lab in London’s Canary Wharf. (Earlier this month the bank announced plans for the lab, which will specifically explore how the block chain can benefit its industry.) It’s not the first instance of the financial services industry showing support for digital currencies—the New York Stock Exchange recently invested in Coinbase, which just launched a Bitcoin exchange—but it’s a demonstration of continued investment and interest in the technology’s possibilities.
And on Wednesday night Ripple Labs, the parent company of digital payment protocol Ripple, published a tweet revealing that it was working on a pilot with Western Union, best known as a payments wire service. Ripple Labs confirmed the program to Fortune. Monica Long, the company’s vice president of marketing, added: “Financial institutions and networks use Ripple as a technology that powers real-time settlement in any currency to lower the cost of liquidity and compliance.”
— Ripple (@Ripple) April 28, 2015
Like Bitcoin, Ripple’s technology allows for digital payments and includes a ledger for transactions. Ripple has its own digital currency, but its payments network can be used to transfer any fiat or digital currency. That’s why Western Union is interested in a pilot program—on a system like Bitcoin or Ripple, a transaction takes mere minutes to complete and at a much lower cost than traditional money transfers.
All that, in the space of a few tweets.