Rumblings were felt at The Paris Blockchain Week Summit on Wednesday, as Ripple faced off against its hated rival, the payments giant SWIFT.

Ripple believes that it has been in a bitter struggle with SWIFT for years. Both offer platforms that handle cross-border transactions. SWIFT is the global Goliath; Ripple is the plucky underdog.

That mismatch played out in public Wednesday, when the bitter enemies squared off at a panel on “The Future of Payments.”

Seated on the left: Marjan Delattine, Ripple’s global payments chief. A protégé and eventual turncoat, Delattine worked for SWIFT as its general director until 2016. And on the right: Leonard Schrank, who was SWIFT’s CEO for 15 years.

Would the young eat the old? Or would the establishment claim a dry, but chilling victory?

SWIFT won. Hands down. 

A fierce battle of words

Delattine moved first, bigging Ripple up. She said that it was SWIFT, but swifter: that its payments networks, xCurrent and xRapid, were cheaper and quicker: that scores of banks had successfully trialled its software; that its $14.1 billion capitalized cryptocurrency would become the future standard in digital money; and that it was coming for SWIFT, and fast.

Schrank remained unconvinced, and spat out a devastating rebuttal.

“Anyone can engineer a standard,” he said. “The hard part is getting anyone to use it.”

Schrank reminded the crowd that he had presided over SWIFT when it was responsible for managing $6 trillion worth of payments a day. Now, he said, it handles $10 trillion. Ripple’s success, by contrast, was small fry, he pointed out.

“Ripple’s at a billion,” he smirked. “You’ve got to start somewhere.”

It was a backhanded slight that Delattine would not countenance.

“We have signed up more than 200 financial institutions, more than 25 to 30 each quarter,” she replied. “They are already implementing Ripple on the back end of their systems. That shows the trust the financial institutions are showing towards our technology and blockchain in general.”

But SWIFT wasn’t letting Ripple play catch up—its global payments innovation platform, which also purports to speed up transactions, has already rolled out to 40 percent of its customers.

That’s the same system that Delattine was in charge of at SWIFT, she told the crowd, as if to remind them of just how well she knew her enemy.

Yet, faced even with these stellar credentials, Schrank has hardly nonplussed.

“I’m not anti-Ripple; I’m excited about the opportunities,” he said, dismissively.

Then, a glint in his eye as he reached for the decisive smackdown. “I wish them the best and I think choice is good to have.“

We wish Ripple a swift recovery.