I'm sure you've seen it yourself already, if you've entered crypto:
The frazzled trader.
This person is iconic - a crypto trader that moves his money on a whim, hoping to catch a quick ride upwards from recent news, social media updates, or other rumors. They are not serene individuals, and it's apparent that the stress of following a market that never closes has taken its toll.
And I'm talking about individuals that do this full-time: What about the ordinary stock investor that has a regular 9-5 job? Are they supposed to set aside their regular career just to follow crypto movements?
No. To manage the stress of being "in crypto" while also pursuing their normal career, new investors will need to choose investments that allow them to continue with their normal life without being distracted by the temporary gyrations within the crypto industry. I was one of those individuals in 2013.
Even though I gave Bitcoin trading a try, the volatility involved was too much to bear, and I made a decision to purchase a crypto-currency that clearly had the best future possibility; XRP. This allowed me to "buy it and forget it" and focus on my larger career as a freelance consultant.
And it worked! Yes, I admit that I found myself checking the price of XRP frequently, but I didn't get unduly upset or stressed. I knew what I had purchased, and I knew that banks and financial institution were going to take only one of the crypto-currencies seriously; the one backed by a large, reputable, Silicon Valley company.
Crypto Market Re-Ordering ItselfXRP fans are calling it "The Zerpening." 1
What is a "zerp?" It's the nickname that XRP fans use for the digital asset. Because readers and speakers struggle to pronounce a soft "x", XRP is known colloquially on the forums as a "zerp."
When fans lengthen out the phrase to "Zerpenning," they're referring to irrationality of the market starting to be corrected. New investors quickly discover the best choice after performing rational comparisons and looking at real-world use and adoption of technology. One crypto-currency is currently the de-facto standard for scalable production applications: XRP.
For multiple years, XRP and Ripple struggled against entrenched Bitcoin financial interests, and methodically built their own reputation with banking and financial customers, helping them to streamline cross-border payments. The crypto market begrudgingly recognized the traction that XRP was making with traditional business, and in 2017 finally accepted the fact that XRP was the clear front-runner in the race for actual production usage of crypto-currency in global transactions:2
I'll get to the incredible performance metrics of XRP in a bit, but for now, just know that the entire market seems to be re-ordering the choices, and it appears that XRP is methodically being promoted up the list on Coinmarketcap. Based on the direction that the market is taking - rewarding those crypto-currencies with real, actual innovative approaches - here's what the eventual list might look like in the near future:
- Bitcoin Cash
The market is now correcting four years of irrationality, and is finally getting around to rewarding true innovation. Continuing down the list: Ethereum has achieved enough traction to remain at #2 until competition from Codius and other smart contract platforms begins to erode its market share. Bitcoin Cash will take Bitcoin's place as the "true bitcoin;" the legacy Bitcoin has priced itself out of the competition, as fees that can range between $30 and $50 per transaction.
I'm basing this new ordering off of the momentum in the market in the past two weeks; it is an intuitive exercise intended to present one future possibility.
XRP's Performance Metrics Dwarf POW SystemsIn 2013, I remember reading the Satoshi whitepaper, and then learning about how transactions are validated using a competitive process called "mining." I also remember shaking my head at that and immediately questioning if that was the "best we could do" when it comes time to validate decentralized transactions and prevent double-spending. When I continued looking at other crypto technology, I discovered POS (Proof of Stake) coins like Peercoin, and eventually encountered XRP.
That was over four years ago.
And yet we still see some narrow-minded groups clinging to the wasteful mining process, each for various reasons. In some cases, original developers that might have a huge personal stake in POW technology continue to try and discredit XRP.
As a crypto investor, you'd be wise not to believe them; we can do better. We don't need to use massive coal-generated electricity3 to secure a cryptographic network; other protocols such as Ripple are available to achieve consensus at speeds that will truly support the scalability required of a global payment processing back-end, and yet still reap the rewards of decentralization.
SpeedBitcoin and Ethereum are not well-suited for real-time commerce. To achieve six blocks (confirmations), Bitcoin will need approximately one or more hours.4 And even Ethereum requires upwards of 2-3 minutes to achieve its minimum number of confirmations.5 6 This speed is not fast enough for real-time payments.
As a crypto trader, you might have already run into the unbelievably-slow processing time of a Bitcoin transaction, as you move it from one exchange to another.
XRP is not like this, and many crypto day traders now use XRP as their "banking" coin. The transactions are so inexpensive that they're barely noticeable - 10 drops is the minimum network fee, and each "drop" is defined as one-millionth of one XRP. That's a very small fraction of one cent. Also, XRP settles in under four seconds. 7
This means that as soon as you press the "send" button on your XRP wallet, the XRP should already show up in your account by the time you tab over to where your exchange is and refresh the web page.
That's the speed crypto day traders need to achieve fast reaction times, and it's the kind of speed that will support global commerce for Ripple.
ScalabilityScalability is a topic that is critically important for a payments system that must support transactions on a global scale. If you’re new to crypto, there are two separate categories of scalability: on-chain and off-chain.
- On-chain refers to transactions directly on the crypto ledger, whether it be Bitcoin’s network, Ethereum, or the XRP Ledger.
- Off-chain or “off-ledger” refers to transactions that occur outside the ledger, that are then summarized as one transaction and communicated to the native ledger at a later time.
As you can see from the chart, XRP clocks in at 1,500 transactions per second (TPS), far surpassing Ethereum’s 15 TPS, or Bitcoin’s pre-Segwit 6 TPS. Note that after Segwit, Bitcoin was able to process 16 TPS & would have jumped to 32 after Segwit 2X.8
While all three crypto-currencies boast phenomenal off-chain speeds, keep in mind that most of these solutions are horizontally scaled – i.e., as more computing power is added, the transactions per second tends to increase in direct proportion.
XRP’s off-chain speed has been clocked in initial tests at over 70,000 TPS, which far exceeds even centralized databases such as Visa.9
While some point to these off-chain speeds as evidence that Bitcoin or Ethereum is capable of handling global transaction levels, the native network speed continues to remain important, serving as an ultimate back-stop for throughput of each system; so far, neither can approach the speed of the XRP Ledger.
FunctionalityApologists for Bitcoin will say that Bitcoin's main use case is now to be considered a "store of value." This is a radical departure of its early days, when proponents were pitching Bitcoin as a replacement for fiat currency. Now, however, it's readily apparent that Bitcoin is the "model T" of cryptos, and while it was first, it certainly was not the best.
Many innovations to crypto have been added to the collective knowledge base of crypto, and unfortunately, Bitcoin has not benefited much from these innovations - it is still very slow, cannot scale, and its transaction fees are far too high for even medium and some large-sized transactions. Some companies like Blockstream - and creators of the Lightning network - have attempted to create work-arounds that scale, but it's apparent that the use case for Bitcoin even as a store of value is starting to diminish in popularity.
Contrast this with XRP. XRP hasn't gone through any "forks" and has managed to upgrade the code behind the XRP Ledger many times; the XRP network is currently running version 80 of the software.10
Bridge AssetXRP's primary use case is as a bridge asset for transforming from one fiat currency to another. When XRP was created, Ripple studied bank usage of Nostro accounts. They discovered that usage of a common bridge currency like XRP had the potential of saving banks a significant amount of payment processing cost. 11 12
These cost savings have been documented by Ripple; if banks use Ripple's ILP solution xCurrent, they are projected to save up to 33%. However, if banks choose to use XRP as a bridge currency, the level of savings is increased to between 42 and 60%: 13 14
The size of the international cross-border market is estimated to be in the quadrillions.15 The only competition thus far for Ripple in this space is SWIFT, a legacy messaging solution that can take days to transfer value from one country to another.
TokensAny XRP user may create and issue a token to another person.16 This is a key functional part of a credit network - the ability for one individual on the network to issue trust to another; the ideas is that a redeemable asset is now represented on the network, issued by an organization for business purposes.
It could be a token issued by a company for an asset, or it could be a basket of other currencies issued by a central bank. Some say that airline miles might be a good use of newly-minted tokens. There's no limit to what a user-issued token on the XRP Ledger can represent.
ILP-EnabledThe XRP Ledger is ILP-enabled. This means that it can communicate with any other ledger that is also ILP-enabled, such as other crypto-currencies (Ethereum is also ILP-enabled) or bank ledgers. 17
This ability to communicate with other networks provides additional liquidity to the XRP Ledger, as its extended to connect to other networks and their value. Codius, Ripple's smart contract platform, is ILP-enabled and can settle on the XRP Ledger.
CodiusI've talked about Codius before, and recently Stefan Thomas indicated that Ripple has plans for building out Codius further in 2018, now that the Interledger Protocol has matured as an international standard.18
Payment ChannelsPayment Channels is the XRP Ledger's off-ledger solution that allows payment speeds to scale even beyond 1,500 TPS.19 Using the Payment Channel function, the XRP Ledger can process transactions at over 70,000 TPS, and is horizontally-scalable to even higher speeds.20
This off-ledger speed exceeds the metrics of even centralized payment processing networks such as VISA.
EscrowThe XRP Ledger can process simple contracts using crypto-conditions without having to interact with a smart contracts platform. These crypto-conditions essentially place additional requirements on a transaction in order to complete processing; one of these conditions can be the processing date of the transaction. If a transaction has a crypto condition to only send a payment on a specific date, or if other criteria are met first, it is known as an escrow payment. 21
The most high-profile use of this function has been Ripple's use of the escrow function to lock away 55 billion XRP for XRP supply predictability, and to encourage the trading of XRP in the crypto market without fear of a market flood of supply. 22
In addition to its use by banks and financial institutions to lock away XRP under certain conditions, it can be used by individuals as well. Thus far, one private company has created an end-user focused solution called Reservoir to allow end-users to experiment with this function. Expect to see more end-user apps like this as retail investors opt to lock away XRP for specific purposes or as time-triggered gifts to others.
XRP is the Only Top Crypto Choice Backed by a US-based CompanyOne of the first things I look at when reviewing a crypto-currency (or an ICO) is what country serves as their base of operations. Does the company or non-profit organization exist in a country that will be notoriously difficult to work with, in case something unexpected happens? Or does that organization exist in a country where accountability to government oversight is the norm? This might seem like an insignificant issue, but keep in mind that owners of the crypto-currency might benefit from greater accountability if something unexpected happens.
Ripple is based in San Francisco, California, and is subject to US law; law that has a history of setting a high bar for government and regulation compliance.
Leadership TeamRipple has solid, proven leadership, many of whom have been with it since its inception, helping to guide its growth and adoption.23 These are superstars. If you don't know who Brad Garlinghouse is, you should do some googling. He used to work for Yahoo, and was the author of the now-world-famous "Peanut Butter Manifesto." 24
Brad Garlinghouse is a leader that believes in efficient and laser focus for an organization. His main criticism of Yahoo's strategy - at the time that the wrote the Peanut Butter Manifesto - was that it was spreading its resources too thinly. It's good to have a CEO leading Ripple who will not stray from the core vision for XRP: To be the best digital asset for payments.
I won't go through the entire list of executives at Ripple, but suffice it to say that this group is a "who's who" of cross-border value transfer.25
And their board members? Ripple's Board is composed of well-connected, influential trend-setters in financial technology, starting with its former CEO Chris Larsen. Recent additions to the board included Ben Lawsky and Zoe Cruz: 26
With it's recent increase in market capitalization, there are many speculating that Ripple might be considering purchases of other companies within fintech. If so, then Ripple's recent hiring of Ron Will as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a perfect fit - he's helped multiple companies go through the acquisition process and could end up being a critical team member as Ripple goes through the growing pains of massive and accelerated growth in 2018. 27
XRP-centered Business Alliances & PlansAs an XRP owner, I've seen the volatility of the crypto market. There were many days in summer and fall when I had to endure watching how the crypto market seemed almost oblivious to the business plans of Ripple and SBI as they started to develop.
Only recently in late 2017 did it become crystal clear that SBI was going "all in" on both crypto and XRP. 28 SBI indicated recently that they plan on starting eight new crypto businesses, and they regard XRP as the new leader in crypto. Here is a recent tweet from the CEO of SBI Holdings, Yoshitaka Kitao: 29
Note that SBI has been consistently emphasizing XRP's role in directly reducing banks' costs, and the largest consortium of banks that use Ripple technology are in Japan.
Subsequent to Cuallix's announcement about using xRapid, Ripple indicated that it had completed standardization of its offerings as they will be implemented in all the banks that comprise the Japanese Banking Consortium (JBC). This announcement continues to generate massive excitement within the XRP investor community. 30
xRapid AdoptionRipple has many tools at their disposal to promote and speed xRapid adoption, and the use of XRP. They've allied with Crypto Facilities31 to help banks manage volatility risk. They've established the RippleNet Accelerator Program32 to reward businesses that are the first to sign up for using Ripple technology to process commercial payments using RippleNet.
And most recently, David Schwartz indicated that Ripple would soon announce the names of two businesses that might use xRapid; he indicated that the businesses were "household names" to most people.33 This has, and continues to, generate much speculation about the next xRapid partner announcements.
The XRP Community on Social MediaWhen you invest in XRP, one of the benefits is knowing that the largest fintech company in the world is working diligently for XRP real-world use and adoption by banks and financial institutions. In addition, it's good to evaluate how the XRP community compares to other crypto choices.
The XRP community doesn't stand for misinformation.
Some members of fintech social media have recently been spreading misrepresentations about XRP as it reclaimed its spot at #2 on the Coinmarketcap listings. The XRP community quickly responded, engaging with these posters and addressing each with facts and explanations. As a result of this new round of misinformation, Adrian Hope-Bailie, Standards Officer for Ripple, had this to say: 34
Luckily for Ripple, there are a lot of XRP investors that are willing to speak up and help correct other members of the crypto community when we hear something that doesn't sound right.
Wallet Statistics & Purchase RumorsThe crypto market's massive demand for XRP can be seen in an increasing number of fully-funded XRP wallets on the network: 35
In addition to the overall wallet count, the XRP community prepares statistics that analyze the distribution of wallets, their overall counts, and their sizes (measured by XRP). To start off 2018 on the right note, one of the XRP community leaders - @TBCrypto on Twitter - collated some XRP wallet statistics. 36
The first matrix shows the count of wallets that have a specific number of XRP within them. As you can see, there are a number of wallets with large amounts but the vast majority of wallets hold XRP in amounts ranging from the minimum wallet activation to 50,000 XRP. As time marches forward, we've noticed that the number of wallets with large amounts of XRP has steadily decreased:
The next matrix shows the answer to the interesting question: "How much XRP would I own if I was to be considered in the top 1% of holders?" The answer is approximately 100,000 XRP:
In addition to wallet statistics, a small group of XRP community members also actively tracks all large payments made on the XRP Ledger. During this tracking of transactions, various people noticed large payments ... much too large to represent payments to private investors, the community is surmising.
Nobody that I've spoken to knows for sure, but these payment(s) might indicate the first wave of institutional purchases by banks or other large organizations. While there is no other contextual information about these payments, the community has been actively speculating on what they mean. Here is one payment - for 700 million XRP - that was discussed: 37 38
Large purchases by banks and other financial institutions is a very positive sign, since all large purchases such as this are subject to resale restrictions; that means that the purchasing organization would necessarily be extremely confident in the continued price appreciation of XRP.
Sleep Well, Fellow XRP HodlersIf you are reading this in January of 2018, take comfort in knowing that you are "still early." While we've seen the beginnings of retail investors entering crypto, the industry is not easy for non-technically savvy people to enter. How big is the current and future crypto investing demand? Some exchanges have exceeded their own capacity for new members, and in December a number of them had to restrict people from establishing new accounts.
What are the new crypto investors choosing?
They are choosing the crypto with the biggest use case and the most promising future. XRP took the lead in 2017, and its momentum is spiraling upward at an increasing rate. How much will xRapid supercharge XRP demand? 2018 will reveal this answer, and will also show how effective SBI's vertical integration plan for crypto will work in Asia.
As an XRP owner, you can rest assured that there is a massive US-based company behind your investment, along with multiple business plans centered around adoption of the digital asset that you've purchased. Ripple has the best team, the biggest use case, and most importantly, the most innovative crypto-currency.
- http://bitcointicker.co/networkstats/ (6 blocks for final settlement)
- https://etherscan.io/chart/blocktime (12 blocks X 14 second average block time on Jan 2, 2018)
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