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US money transfer giant MoneyGram struck a deal with the blockchain-based payment settlement company Ripple to pilot the latter's native currency XRP in MoneyGram payment flows.

The price of XRP, popularly known as Ripple, surged as much as 15 percent on the news on Thursday, when most major currencies were down due to fears of a severe crackdown by South Korean authorities.

Ripple is the third largest cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap data. For a brief time in December, XRP had overtaken Ethereum to be the second largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin.

As of 6.10 am ET on Friday, XRP was up 17.94 percent at $2.07 with a market cap of $80.06 billion on CoinMarketCap.

The deal is significant as questions are raised to the use of cryptocurrencies in real life. Banks are exploring ways to lower transaction costs by adopting the blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

The Dallas-based MoneyGram said it will pilot the use of XRP in payment flows through xRapid, Ripple's solution for on-demand liquidity for financial institutions.

Ripple's transactions fees are just fractions of a penny, compared to Bitcoin fees of about $30 per transaction, the company noted.

Similarly, the average transaction time for XRP is 2-3 seconds with other top digital assets ranging from 15 minutes to an hour, it added.

"We are excited about this pilot and a long-term strategic partnership with MoneyGram," Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse said in a statement.

"The inefficiencies of global payments don't just affect banks, they also affect institutions like MoneyGram," he noted.

Both companies will also explore MoneyGram's integration into Ripple's ecosystem through the latter's standard payments interface, xVia.

Since hitting a record of $3.84, the price of Ripple has fallen steadily after leading crypto data website coinbase rejected news of including XRP into its list of currency it tracks.

The Ripple price also took a hit after South Korean authorities took steps to curb the excessive speculation in digital currencies that led to some Korean exchanges being excluded from the crypto market cap tracker CoinMarketCap.

Ripple is one of the most popular cryptocurrencies in South Korea, one of the leading markets for cryptos, where both young and old have been investing heavily in these currencies with the hope of making a quick profit.

The San Francisco-based Ripple was founded in 2012 as a provider for a realtime payment processing system that is based on a blockchain or a public distributed ledger which validates transactions on consensus.

While Bitcoin is a digital currency based on the blockchain, Ripple is a real-time payment settlement network with a virtual currency that works on an enterprise blockchain that claims to have more than 100 customers across the globe, including American Express and UBS.

A major criticism leveled against Ripple is that it is not decentralized entirely as the validators in the distributed network are known entities such as banks and financial services companies, unlike Bitcoin's blockchain that relies on anonymous miners. This has prompted some players in the crypto space to name XRP the "banksters' coin".

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