Ripple adds Morgan Stanley veteran to board of directors

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Ripple on Tuesday announced that it had added a former Morgan Stanley veteran, Zoe Cruz, to its board of directors, further cementing the startup's ties — and, by extension, those of the cryptocurrency industry as a whole — to the world of banking and mainstream finance.

At Morgan Stanley, Cruz was co-president for institutional securities and wealth management from 2005 to 2007. Before that, she served as global head of fixed income, commodities and foreign exchange.

When Cruz joined the bank in 1982, she was the third founding member of the foreign exchange group, according to a news release.

Cruz's appointment makes sense in light of Ripple's ambitions. The San Francisco-based startup, which created the digital currency XRP, has a multipronged business that involves selling ostensibly Swift-killing blockchain software to banks while also working to persuade them to use XRP to grease the skids of cross-border payments.

Even by the overheated standards of the cryptocurrency market, XRP has had a banner year. On Tuesday afternoon, it was trading at 81 cents a share and had a market capitalization of more than $31 billion, an increase of about 12,360% since the start of 2017. Its price has more than tripled in December, making it the world's fourth-largest cryptocurrency.

Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple's CEO, said he expects Cruz to help the company speed adoption of XRP. After leaving Morgan Stanley, Cruz founded hedge fund Voras Capital Management, and served as a senior adviser at Promontory Financial Group before opening a single-family office, EOZ Global, where she currently holds the position of CEO.

"With her 35 years of experience in finance and foreign exchange, Zoe will offer us a unique perspective and invaluable guidance on how to accelerate RippleNet growth and XRP usage across the network globally," Garlinghouse said in a news release. "We very much look forward to leveraging her expertise to make our vision — an internet of value — a reality."

Cruz is the second recent addition to Ripple's board. In late November, the startup tapped Ben Lawsky, a lawyer who, as superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services from 2011 to 2015, spearheaded the BitLicense, a controversial regulatory regime for digital currency firms.

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