You may be thinking: How is that even a sporting competition?
Without trying to justify whether it's a 'fair game' to compare XRP's Consensus algorithm with Proof-of-Work, you may agree that it was appropriate to use a sports metaphor for today's blog. Today is the day that almost everybody in the United States is either watching (voluntarily), or is being dragged (involuntarily) to watch the most-publicized football game of the year. And advertisers will be out in droves, trying to capitalize on that audience of millions during the game.
But to compare a sports competition to the battle between Consensus and Proof-of-Work is a stretch.
In case you're new to crypto, here's what that so-called competition looks like:
Anybody reading this can determine the winner; and if you doubt it, I would ask you to independently verify my sources and determine if the claims I'm making in the above scoring matrix are accurate.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
If you've been told something completely different by somebody that you trust or respect, don't worry; most of us in the XRP Community had to look past the propaganda pushed by early Bitcoin investors to see just how inaccurate their claims were. We've seen a number of Bitcoiners join the XRP Community over the years as they shake off the weary-eyed slumber of false promises.
It's okay to have been wrong - I understand how that feels - but worse is to continue to stick your head in the sand while the world is clearly moving towards sustainable, decentralized technology such as POS, DPOS, and especially Consensus.
Do yourself - and especially the Earth's environment - a favor, and take a stand. Decide not to purchase or trade in proof-of-work cryptocurrencies ever again.
General Crypto News
Some news in crypto is fodder for stories that are more unbelievable than fiction.
The downfall of QuadrigaCX is an epic disaster that may have been avoidable if proper procedures had been put in place: The latest news indicates that the founder of the exchange - who died unexpectedly in December - had sole access to the cold storage wallets of the exchange. According to recent news reports, the amount of crypto lost by his death amounts to approximately $190 million at contemporary price levels. 16
Along with Coinsquare, QuadrigaCX was one of the largest Canadian exchanges, and its CEO, Gerald Cotten reportedly had sole custody of the access rights to the cold wallet storage for the exchange. An affidavit from his widow read:
"The laptop computer from which Gerry carried out the companies' business is encrypted and I do not know the password or recovery key. Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere."
The exchange issued its own statement:
"For the past weeks, we have worked extensively to address our liquidity issues, which include attempting to locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves held in cold wallets, and that are required to satisfy customer cryptocurrency balances on deposit, as well as sourcing a financial institution to accept the bank drafts that are to be transferred to us.
Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful."
Reading about the troubles with QuadrigaCX crypto deposits, I predict that many exchanges will now re-examine their custody processes and procedures, along with the insurance or reserves used for loss planning. While exchanges are typically focused on 'threats from outside,' the occasional unexpected death of a critical team member is also something that is statistically possible.
Financial Conduct Authority Issues Enforcement Guidelines
The Financial Conduct Authority of the United Kingdom is the department that coordinates the direction for enforcement of securities trading laws and guidelines. Almost universally in cryptocurrency, most participants in blockchain technology have been calling for greater regulatory clarity from both the United States and the United Kingdom, and the FCA recently issued a document that describes their enforcement approach.
Here is the purpose of the document, as described by its authors: 17
"The Taskforce set out a number of commitments, including providing extra clarity to firms about where current cryptoasset activities are regulated, and exploring whether unregulated activities should be captured by regulation in the future. This Guidance consultation document responds to the first of those commitments."
The document not only provides the specific direction it will take with regards to enforcement, but provides some very clear examples of what would prompt enforcement under each guideline. It also contains a Q&A section at the end that clarifies some specific topics.
From what I've read, it targets ICOs and their like, making sure that those creating new coin networks understand what the legal implications are in the United Kingdom.
Like it or disagree with it, the document provides clear definitions of how it perceives different entrepreneurial activities in the blockchain space. The document is balanced, and is positive about the new industry as well, so it's clear that the United Kingdom is not ceding its place in the new industry by any means; in fact, by issuing clear guidance, it will help native UK residents understand how to conduct their own new blockchain business if they're so inclined.
BIS Predicts Trouble for Proof-of-Work
I've written about the failings of proof-of-work crypto networks in the past, and while I've focused on the profoundly negative environmental impact of the use of 'mining' to secure these older networks, more and more evidence is mounting that they are now considered 'insecure' almost universally.
If you think Bitcoin is immune from a 51% attack due to its current prominence in trade volume, you are making a critical error in judgment.
According to a new paper published by the Bank for International Settlements, an attack on Bitcoin using a standard 51% approach is not only economically feasible, but would be very profitable as well: 18
"The first limitation is that proof-of-work axiomatically requires high transaction costs to ensure payment finality ... Counterfeiters can attack bitcoin via a “double-spending” strategy, ie spending in one block and later undoing this by releasing a forged blockchain in which the transactions are erased."
The paper goes on to address some of the specific concerns about how transactions are validated, and the intractable problems generally associated with proof-of-work crytpocurrencies that place all of their security in the hands of individuals that are running mining equipment:
"The underlying intuition is simple: double-spending is very profitable. In fact, attackers stand to gain a much higher bitcoin income than does an honest miner.
While honest miners simply collect block rewards and transaction fees, counterfeiters collect not only any block rewards and transaction fees in the forged chain, but also the amount that was double-spent, ie the value of the voided transactions.
This “attacker advantage” ultimately translates into a very high required ratio for miners’ income as compared with the transaction volume (the amount that can be double-spent)."
This economic logic seems unassailable to me, and I predict that as more and more banks and real businesses understand the dangers of proof-of-work cryptocurrencies, they will opt to use much more secure Byzantine-Fault-Tolerant Consensus ("Proof-of-Importance" in this paper) networks like XRP. Even if they don't care about the atrocious environmental impact of Bitcoin and its proof-of-work cousins, they will definitely care about the security of the network that they're using.
The biggest news item that intersected between Ripple, XRP, R3, and SBI all began with the Paris Fintech Forum that took place over two days, January 29th and 30th.
The event was heavily promoted by its organizers, who highlighted a proposed panel discussion with Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple's CEO, and Gottfried Leibbrandt, the CEO of SWIFT. 19
Video of the event was released after the conference, and excerpts from the debate started to circulate across various social media. Here is the video of the panel discussion if you haven't seen it already:
In some cases, conferences may oversell events, but in this case, seeing both the CEO of SWIFT and the CEO of Ripple on the same stage was something that I've been looking forward to watching for more than a year now, since Ripple's first SWELL conference.
While the session was a modest twenty minutes in length, it provided an opportunity for both Brad Garlinghouse and Gottfried Leibbrandt to present their respective cases at an appropriate amount of depth for both banking insiders and laypersons. After Gottfried Leibbrandt's somewhat-apologetic defense of SWIFT GPI, Brad Garlinghouse provided a more concise response, focusing on the profound differences between the two technology stacks:
"When we talk about what the SWIFT network is today, it's a closed network. It has a lot of members on it - for sure - but AOL had a lot of members. And when we moved into the age of the Internet, and a decentralized, democratic network ... I think what you're seeing introduced with blockchain technologies ... and it's not just Ripple.
When we think about interoperability, we think about interoperability between many blockchains ... and I think that the future we see is certainly one of many networks; interoperable networks. And reducing the friction of those payments to close-to-zero.
And I think you're going to see a lot of innovation spawn from that. Apart from Ripple; part of the entire ecosystem ...
... It's (SWIFT GPI) a step forward when you're switching from - if I may - horse and buggy, to 'hey, can we make the horse and buggy go faster?' Sure, but if we can just move to a Ferrari, let's do that."
These were the dramatic debate points that most people were hoping to hear, and Brad Garlinghouse did not shy away from the confrontation, but carefully inserted some of these analogies with what was a polite and thoughtful debate between himself and Gottfried Leibbrandt.
Another point later in the video contained a surprise, however.
When Gottfried Leibbrandt, on his own accord, shifted the discussion to the use of XRP for cross-border liquidity, he communicated that he'd heard from some banks that they were weary of trying cryptocurrency for cross-border transfer due to considerations of volatility.
Brad Garlinghouse met the topic head-on, noting:
"Volatility is just a mathematical calculation of time, times volatility. If you hold fiat, for, say, an average SWIFT transaction takes in the order of magnitude, two days; that's about a hundred and eighty thousand seconds.
An XRP transaction is three seconds.
So, if you take a low-volatility asset, times a long duration (fiat), or a high-volatility asset times a short amount of time, it turns out that, mathematically, there's less volatility risk in an XRP transaction than there is in a fiat transaction."
This is a topic, that surprisingly, confuses some people that believe that because cryptocurrency prices are generally more volatile than fiat currency prices, that it presents an untenable risk for banks. In Brad Garlinghouse's explanation, we found that the opposite was true, as has been confirmed by the repetitive trials of xRapid by various customers.
The conference was a historical occasion, in my opinion, and it may have been a potential turning point in the public perception of Ripple's financial products, packages, and network; Brad Garlinghouse did an exceptional job of dynamically addressing points with analogies that will resonate with both the banking industry and the general public.
SWIFT and R3
Parallel to the Paris Fintech Forum, SWIFT decided that the timing was right to unveil a new proof-of-concept with R3. The disclosure was made by Gottfried Leibbrandt just a day after the panel discussion with Brad Garlinghouse.
The announcement, in my view, was ironically both a significant win for XRP, and also didn't seem to be much of a threat for Ripple, as the R3 platform would not be replacing SWIFT's GPI, but would be considered an additional point of origination.
Gottfried Leibbrandt described it this way: 20
“We are announcing later today a proof-of-concept with the R3 blockchain on trade where you can initiate a payment on the trade platform and then it goes into GPI.”
The reason it's a significant win, potentially, for XRP, is that R3's Corda Settler can settle in any currency, including a crypto-asset, and is currently configured to work with XRP.
Essentially, imagine payments originating at a bank on the R3 platform, and then that bank choosing to settle with XRP as it moves across a border, to a separate bank or financial institution connected to the SWIFT network. In theory, it seems to open the door to usage of XRP throughout the entire SWIFT network.
The reason that the proof-of-concept isn't a significant threat to Ripple is that SWIFT GPI can only move at the speed of ... you guessed it ... SWIFT. So even though the R3 network will benefit from the integration with SWIFT, from Ripple's standpoint, its own network is still head-and-shoulders better than SWIFT GPI. However, the integration points with SWIFT may be a selling point that R3 can use to enlarge its own banking network.
Crypto investors were quick to provide their approval for the news, and the price of XRP shot up by roughly fourteen percent in twenty-four hours before retracing to an overall-higher price plateau two days later.
My take on all of this?
The debate between Gottfried Leibbrandt and Brad Garlinghouse is something that you never would have seen if Ripple wasn't perceived as a threat to the 'Old Guard' of correspondence banking. These banks are afraid of what Ripple represents. Their role in obtaining enormous transaction fees from both retail and corporate clients for the privilege of moving money across borders is quickly drawing to a close, as the world decides its time to send money as fast as it can send information.
And one more thing.
Attempting to discern motivations for strategic business moves is always risky, but I will say this: If Gottfried Leibbrandt thinks that a public announcement of a deal with what he perceives as a Ripple competitor will slow Ripple down, then he's not a student of what happens when large, entrenched industry titans go up against true innovators in Silicon Valley.
Time will reveal whether challenger banks and their customers prefer incremental innovation in the form of SWIFT GPI or a jump to real-time settlement in the form of RippleNet.
New General Counsel
Ripple has hired a new top lawyer, as announced on January 30th:
Stuart Adelroty is an expert in banking-related legal issues, having worked as a top lawyer for CIT, HSBC, and American Express over the last thirty years.
He provided the following statement as part of Ripple's official hiring announcement: 21
“Blockchain technology is transforming the financial services industry and Ripple has been at the forefront for both its technology and thoughtful approach to policy. I am thrilled to join Ripple and work alongside this great team Brad has assembled as we find new ways to partner with leading policy makers and continue to create significant solutions for Ripple’s users and end-customers throughout the world.”
His hiring comes seven months after Brynly Llyr vacated the position in mid-2018, and may indicate Ripple anticipating more legal interactions as its business faces rapid growth; quickly-expanding Silicon Valley companies have typically been required to address multiple legal actions as they grow to larger sizes. 22
Saudi British Bank (SABB)
@BankXRP (Twitter avatar) once again unearthed new information about a potential RippleNet client that nobody had yet confirmed, sending out the following tweet:
The quote in the tweet linked to a document titled "Blazing a Transformation Trail: Saudi Arabia's New Digital Frontier." The document was focused on SABB, and talked about how Saudi Arabian commerce and banking is being transformed by technological innovation, and highlighted specific examples related to SABB.
One of those efforts was regarding the testing of cross-border payments with Ripple, and the section quotes Ghada Al Jarbou, Head of Global Liquidity and Cash Management, after indicating that SABB is one of three banks approved by the central bank to test connections with Ripple: 23
“We have just gone live end of December 2018."
It's a great update, and it indicates that the RippleNet network has extended to include a very high proportion of the high-profile banks in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.
While SWIFT continues to try and improve on the archaic correspondence banking system, many countries and banks are opting to replace the old payment rails with real-time settlement options. And the one they are increasingly choosing to compete with SWIFT is RippleNet.
The Ripple Drop – Episode 9
The ninth episode of the Ripple Drop featured Reinhard Cate, Ripple's Head of Content, interviewing three Ripple executives in quick succession within a concise and tight video that accentuated a few important headlines:
Reinhard Cate turned the floor over to David Schwartz, Ripple's Chief Technical Officer, at the beginning of the video:
Reinhard Cate: "What are the biggest changes that you've seen in the last year?"
David Schwartz: "Oh, it would definitely have to be the increase in decentralization; becoming more decentralized than either Bitcoin or Ethereum. And so the network now is operationally decentralized in a way that those other cryptocurrencies just aren't."
Reinhard Cate: "How does Bitcoin or Ethereum differ from XRP?"
David Schwartz: "The biggest difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum and the XRP Ledger is Proof-of-Work versus Consensus. Bitcoin and Ethereum use Proof-of-Work, which hasn't delivered on its promise of decentralization the way consensus has.
They also have much, much higher latency.
So (for) a Bitcoin transaction, you're looking at between ten minutes to an hour to become confident that the transaction will succeed, versus on the order of five seconds with the XRP Ledger."
Reinhard Cate then shifted to a question for Projit Nanu, the founder and CEO of InstaReM, a member of the RippleNet network. InstaReM is a payment provider headquartered in Singapore, and it processes payments to and from over fifty countries. 24
Projit Nanu indicated that one of InstaReM's competitive benchmarks is to make an international payment as fast as payment providers make a real-time domestic payment. It's a tall order, and also one of the reasons his company decided to join RippleNet.
The last interaction was with Jim Chauncey-Kelly, Ripple's Director of Talent. It was an interesting move, and served to remind stakeholders that Ripple is expanding quickly. Jim Chauncey-Kelly indicated that there were more than forty open positions at Ripple, globally. In addition, he indicated that the big demand was for 'Integration Engineers,' who, in technology-speak, typically must know a variety of technical and development skills to connect systems together.
There was also a quick notification at the end of the video; a subscription link to: youtube.com/c/ripplepay, which navigates the user to the Ripple YouTube channel. The YouTube channel now has Ripple's dramatic "Faster Cross-Border Payments" video as its promoted content.
If you haven't seen it yourself, or you wish to share a little bit about Ripple with a friend or family member, this video is a great - and dramatic - way to do it.
Interledger is Hiring
Ripple has now decided to fund a new position under its Xpring Initiative of projects to specifically address Interledger development:
As the larger blockchain market contracts, Ripple is expanding, as its banking applications and XRP ecosystem tools are serving real businesses throughout the world.
And this latest opening is considered an Xpring-funded position, specifically devoted to the goals of Xpring, which state: 25
"Every entrepreneur will use the digital asset XRP and the XRP Ledger, the open-sourced, decentralized technology behind XRP, to solve their customers’ problems in a transformative way."
It's exciting evidence of how ILP is viewed as a 'network' technology by Ripple, for extending the potential reach of XRP as a settlement instrument.
One of the many strengths of the XRP Ledger is its streamlined way of supporting code changes and updates.
Unlike some of the other, older cryptocurrencies, XRP doesn't rely on poorly-understood procedures for code governance, or informal, inherited rights of Github commit access.
Instead, it disregards third-party code management tools, and focuses on what each individual validator can do to either approve or disapprove new code updates. Each validator on the XRPL decides which way it sides on new amendments, allowing for decisive and final adoption of amendments and changes in fees.
"... the Known Amendments page has been updated. rippled 1.2.0 will introduce (at least) 3 new amendments, which (if enabled following 2 weeks of support from 80+% of validators) introduce transaction processing changes."
If approved by over 80% of validators, the amendments will go into effect two weeks after they are promoted to the new 1.2.0 version of the XRP Validator framework; the new XRP Ledger features will be available after that point.
Three Exchanges Add XRP Support
- Kriptomat: An Estonian-based exchange that indicated XRP support would be added in the next week. 27
- BeaxyExchange: An ICO-funded exchange that is still in beta testing. 28 29
- Moontrade: An over-the-counter (OTC) exchange with a mobile wallet. 30
The list keeps growing, and now number over 234 global exchanges. 31 XRP is methodically extending its market reach worldwide, as the potential liquidity entry points steadily rise.
Coingate is a payment processor that specializes in connecting people with merchants that wish to accept crypto as settlement for goods or services. The service is quite large in the crypto space, with approximately 4,500 merchants utilizing their processing software.
@XRPTrump (Twitter avatar) sent out the notification over Twitter to the XRP Community on February 1sr:
The other significant part of the news is that Coingate has decided to run its own validator on the XRP network.
Running a validator provides the ability for the service provider to control access to the XRP Ledger for its own business purposes, and means that they do not have to depend on API's from the publicly-accessible XRP validators that Ripple supports. Many hobby developers run their own XRP validator as well, and it provides a more comprehensive way to learn about the XRP Ledger than merely utilizing somebody else's API.
While it's always great to see new services and exchanges support XRP, running a validator with all of the associated maintenance and operational tasks is a commitment that indicates a willingness to contribute to the health of the entire network. I'd like to see more XRP stakeholder organizations take the same step as Coingate.
Uphold Partner Says XRP Biggest Asset Class
Uphold has partnered with another company called CredEarn to offer holders a way to earn interest on their crypto deposits. The interesting thing I noticed is that the deal is not considered 'interest on a deposit,' but instead 'interest on a loan,' as the Uphold customer would have to make the decision whether or not to loan out their amount: 32
"The minimum earn period is 6 months with the option to renew in 6-month increments at the term end.
CredEarn is currently available to Uphold members outside the United States. The Cred team is working to make this product available to the U.S. market in the coming months."
It's an interesting offer for non-US residents, and the company noted in a recent tweet that the crypto-asset they've received the most interest in with regards to their offer is XRP:
The only complaint so far from potential customers is that the company, for some reason, has tiered XRP holders to only receive 5% as compared to 10% for BTC holders. Perhaps the company will end up making some updates based on their newly-disclosed customer numbers.
A poster on Reddit took action into their own hands when they saw that there were still many swag shop outlets selling coins and pins that contained the old 'Ripple triskelion' logo. 33
He spent the time to create a striking new design in black-and-gold on silver plating:
It provides an exciting opportunity for fans to purchase a physical XRP coin: There is something about a tangible coin that thrills some people, and the digital form of value in cryptocurrency is sometimes lost on those that would rather have a concrete representation of money.
Do you have a shop offering a physical coin with the new design? I'd advise you to create a post on XRPChat or Reddit and see what happens. I think you may be surprised by the excitement that a compelling new coin design will prompt.
Beachhead is the name of a new game being developed by an initial team of eighteen people; the project website contains a history of the brand, which spawned from a first-person arcade-style action game. 34
The team bills the new version of the game as an immersive experience that uses VR (virtual reality) to simulate different situations in a global-style universe and conflict.
The team plans to take a page from games like Second Life, where people can earn money 'in-game' and entire economies can be built. To support it, and also to draw initial interest from those in the crypto space, the team has made a move to base their online economy on the XRP Ledger.
It's a move that we haven't seen in gaming yet; the only other example that I can think of is the Coil team adding support for Twitch streamers.
The Beachhead team has indicated their intention to use a 'BHT coin' in their online economy, and indicated their intention to allow players to trade other cryptocurrencies in-game as well - even their own custom tokens. 35 The XRP decentralized exchange contains the built-in functions to support this.
But given the XRP Ledger's ability to settle in less than four seconds, it's no wonder that the game designers chose it for real-time transfer of value.
Perhaps we'll be seeing more of this type of tokenization on the XRP Ledger in the future.
XRP Is 'In It To Win It'
For those of us that have impartially examined the facts behind XRP and Bitcoin, to call it a 'competition' between Proof-of-work and Consensus is a misnomer.
There is no competition.
One is obviously first-generation technology that was never meant to carry an industry forward into the future. Bitcoin was meant to prove that a decentralized currency would be possible, and while it did that for a time, the industry is now in serious peril as the public is perceiving it to be a sustainable investment, while this belief is not accurate to those of us 'in the know.'
The Superbowl is a case study in how advertising can get the word out about under-appreciated innovations and products. Some of the most memorable ads have been about contenders to the large players, and XRP is no different.
While XRP represents the next generation of crypto, the market continues to struggle, and is slowly shaking off the restrictive shackles of proof-of-work crypto-assets.
XRP has taken the second spot, and the older proof-of-work cousins of Bitcoin are facing decreasing levels of market demand as investors - and even day traders - are starting to notice that an appreciation of new technology has now taken hold of crypto fans. No longer will better tech stand idly by while early Bitcoiners continually play a protectionist role for the worst possible representative for crypto-assets.
It's far past time for Bitcoin - as inspiring as the 'first crypto' was - to be set aside.
We may not have the resources for a Superbowl advertisement, but we can still get the message out and meet Bitcoin protectionists with assertive dialogue when some of them attempt to malign better tech with intentional misinformation. It may surprise newbies to crypto that this behavior is still occurring, but to those of us that support XRP, we know that facts are on our side; and it's our duty to make our voice heard.
Support better tech for your own investment, yes; but even more profoundly, support it for planet Earth, and for future generations. It's time that we show the world that enough is enough; we've seen how entrenched financial interests can hold back an entire industry and push down better technology.
We are now helping the cryptomarket develop immunity to that condition and will move it forward into the future with a new generation of crypto, starting with XRP.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Sandro Schuh
- www.example.comhttps://www.bis.org/publ/work765.pdf (No rewrite of XRP Ledger exists)