Here is a message to all prize-winning economists who may be contributing to publications this year: dismiss digital assets at your own peril.
How many times in history have new innovations, while struggling at their start, later been adopted and used in ubiquitous fashion by all of business and industry? The examples are numerous, including satellite radio, IP phones, the Internet, personal computers, and even seat belts and air bags in cars. Each time these innovations struggled to find a market, a so-called expert would emerge to decry their introduction, and bemoan how they would face intractable inertia from the industry at large.
Such is the case for digital assets, and their new leader in the crypto space, XRP.
How many times have we heard that there are too many obstructions for digital assets to be adopted? Many. And each time, the self-proclaimed expert seems to point, unbelievably, at the failings of Bitcoin, not XRP. Such is the current state of the general public's perception of crypto-assets; they often paint all innovative cryptographic networks with the same negative brush that is associated with Bitcoin.
It's a forgivable mistake for those that don't hold themselves out as knowledgeable experts in economics. For others that do, however, I would highly recommend looking deeply into the developing ecosystem of XRP and its grass-roots adoption efforts. A new leader has arrived on the cryptomarket stage, and the spotlight has now swiveled to this new rising star.
XRP's advocates have patiently watched as it has methodically overcome all obstacles placed before it; regulatory uncertainty is starting to fade with more legal precedents from the SEC. Ripple, the largest company that uses XRP, has innovated on its solutions, making XRP's use invisible to those businesses that wish to use it to source liquidity. And we heard at SWELL the formal announcement of three first adopters that plan to use it at scale to transfer money. And Brad Garlinghouse made a statement prior to that, saying that at least one bank will use xRapid by the end of 2018, blazing the trail for other innovator banks to jump aboard in 2019.
The obstacles are falling now, and the efforts of XRP's million plus advocates are being recognized by mainstream business and even its competitors in the cryptomarket.
The world's economy is about to be transformed by a new cryptocurrency that will represent the future of crypto-assets; XRP will be used at international scales that were unimaginable by most hobbyists that were still in 'experimental mode' since Bitcoin's birth. It's time that the world's leading economists and other thought leaders catch up with the rest of us that have been following XRP's technology since the beginning.
In early March of 2018, Ripple announced that a new xRapid client had been signed - and it was electrifying: Cambridge Global Payments announced that they'd trial xRapid in their payment flows. It was exciting for a number of reasons, but of course for XRP holders, the noteworthy point was that xRapid, Ripple's liquidity-sourcing solution using XRP, would be piloted by the huge conglomerate. 1
Cambridge Global is owned by Fleetcor, which does an enormous amount of business-to-business (B2B) payments for corporates and the oil industry.
We heard about this news about one month after we learned of Western Union's potential use of xRapid in its payment flows. 2 And while it's not clear if Western Union went live with xRapid given its substantial legacy architectures, the latest news reported by Pymts.com indicates that Fleetcor may be in talks to buy Western Union Business Payments. 3 4
What does this mean?
We know that both Cambridge Global and Western Union piloted xRapid. And if this latest deal goes through, Fleetcor will now own both Cambridge Global and Western Union Business Payments; it may be an important development to watch for those that are following xRapid adoption progress. It's not known whether xRapid was trialed in Western Union's B2B area, however, or whether it was restricted to specific lines of business or corridors.
Asheesh Birla has stated that the target businesses for most of Ripple's payment products are the small-and-medium enterprise challengers, although these two names - Cambridge Global and Western Union - represent behemoth players in the B2B market. It will be interesting to watch and see if Fleetcor ultimately implements xRapid at production scales.
Asia House is a series of conferences headquartered in London that focuses on various topics addressing Asian commerce and technology, and on November 22nd it hosted a conference called "Asia Trade in the New Global Order: An Asia House conference in Singapore." On the docket was a specific panel discussion titled "Creating a Digital Ecosystem:" 5 6
The session that includes Marcus Treacher, Ripple's Senior Vice President of Customer Success, begins at the 2:50 mark approximately.
In that session, a panel discussion ensues with the following participants:
- Kiren Kumar, Assistant Managing Director, Singapore Economic Development Board
- Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer, Monetary Authority of Singapore
- Marcus Treacher, Senior Vice President of Customer Success, Ripple
- Syed Shahid Hussain, Managing Partner, Financial Services Sector for ASEAN, IBM
The conversation contained some great insights from true financial system 'insiders,' and offered an ability to understand how some of the inner workings in banking and fintech will ultimately affect the banking and financial market. One of my favorite parts:
Statement / Question (Sopnendu Mohanty): "That's the problem that fintech is trying to solve now; they're trying to solve the B2B infrastructure. The back office; the middle office; the processes behind getting simplified. The whole issue around cross-border payment. No tech company has solved it. Finally we're getting some fintech to look at it seriously, and solving that problem."
Answer (Marcus Treacher): "We've solved it... We're a good test case to look at ... which companies win, and which companies struggle; and it's not about fintech or a large bank per se - it's really about mindset and energy.
We work with hundreds of banks and payment companies around the world. Guys that are moving quickest are the companies with real top-down engagement - senior drive - so they can apply their clout; their financial ability - to do things differently."
It was powerful commentary on the quickly changing cross-border landscape. Ripple technology gives those businesses that are able to leverage it a substantial competitive advantage - even against massive companies with larger existing customer bases.
Ripple Drop: Episode Seven
The latest episode in Ripple's multi-video series titled "The Ripple Drop" premiered on Friday, November 30th:
This is my favorite episode in the series that I've seen thus far. In this video, somehow Reinhard Cate manages to transmit a vibe of what I'd call "cautious optimism" when he discusses XRP's alternative use cases. It's these alternative use cases that may supercharge XRP's liquidity, even ahead of money transmitters and banks.
What does this mean?
XRP's main use case, and the one that will ultimately drive its demand more than any other, is its use as a bridge asset when moving money across borders and transforming one fiat currency to another. This is also known as its 'cross-border' use case.
However, a series of other use cases have sprung up to capitalize on the fastest, most scalable crypto-asset, and two of these are micropayments and sharing economy applications. When people think of micropayments, they naturally gravitate to the highest-profile company that is fearlessly blazing trails with XRP: Coil. However, in this video, Reinhard covers the 'sharing economy' applications, and in particular, the company called Omni.
For those that don't already know, Omni is a sharing economy company headquartered in San Francisco whose business model is something that has never been done before, but is in very high demand; the ability to take your household property or items and then put them to use for you to make money. This works by sending your items to Omni. Omni will then list these items for rent and remit the payments to you as the owner of the item.
It's an incredible business model that promises to unlock untapped value here in the United States and abroad.
In advance of its unavoidable international expansion, Omni is opting to offer the ability for renters (the owners of the items) to receive their payment in XRP. This choice will greatly simplify the payouts, both from Omni's perspective, and from the property owners' perspectives. XRP holds its value the same way regardless of your country of residence, and can be easily redeemed for whatever national currency you prefer, via your preferred exchange.
Something about this idea is striking in its potential, and I believe Omni is a name you will be hearing more about very soon.
At the end of the video, Miguel Vias makes an appearance and indicates that, while speculation, market making, and ForEx trading are helpful, real use of XRP in applications such as Omni are even more powerful, and serve to deepen ecosystem liquidity.
This video was a great indicator of the potential of XRP's use in sharing economy applications.
When you think of Coil, you probably - like me - focus in on their careful management of the developing Web Monetization architecture that promises to transform Internet content.
That concept in itself is exciting, as it promises to even the playing field for the 'creative class' that has often seen their earnings decline as a result of the monopolistic advantage of large Internet companies. That's why I almost missed the tweet sent from Kosta Peric on November 27th:
Who is Kosta Peric? He is the author of 'The Castle And The Sandbox,' a book on how to innovate in conservative companies, and he is also the former head of SWIFT's innovation group. 7 He left that role to work for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, specifically heading up aspects of the Mojaloop set of software tools, in coordination with Miller Abel.
It seems that, in addition to the next phases of ILP development, Coil is also taking over where ILP had previously been pioneered in production applications, including that of the Mojaloop project with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 8
It's a high-profile assignment for the new team at Coil, and it will be fascinating to see the direction the group takes for connecting the un-banked in developing areas of the world.
The XRP Tip Bot has so many rich features that it's easy to forget about some. On Twitter the other day, I ran across a tweet from @PeeIks that caught my eye:
It was an interesting reminder that the XRP Tip Bot contains hidden features that some users may not be aware of. It turns out that the "escrow" feature that @PeeIks was referring to is embedded into the "withdrawal" function here:
The feature requires the user to designate a time for the transaction to complete. This is the same feature that Ripple uses to cryptographically secure its own escrows as well, ensuring that it doesn't have any access to roughly 53 billion XRP still in its custody.
The feature is just as convenient for end-users and XRP traders, however, and it's a great feature to keep in mind as a means of giving a gift to an established account. Just be aware that the receiving wallet must have already been activated with a minimum reserve amount of XRP (20 XRP at the time of this writing).
TokenPay is a platform that aspires to be a lot of things: exchange, merchant payment platform, bank, digital token, and international debit card. 9
They're progressing through their business road-map, and on December 19th, they plan on listing XRP as part of an exchange roll-out. 10 Their exchange will not contain their name, however, and will instead be known as "eFin."
And it was eFin that made the formal announcement that they'd be supporting XRP upon their launch, sent on November 26th, 2018. 11
With eFIN, the team hopes to release what they are calling:
"...the FIRST decentralized trading platform to actually have volume. We solve problems. We also solved the custody problem with user controlled wallets and the privacy problem with Tor."
It's an ambitious goal; if they manage to roll out the service, it may attract numerous clients that are looking to combine crypto trading with a high level of privacy. My take on it is this: while I'm not sure that the world will allow privacy and high-volume trading to co-exist, it will certainly be an interesting experiment to watch. I'm happy that they are listing XRP out of the gate, but I anticipate regulators from various countries asking the team some interesting questions about their platform.
Skrill is a money transmitter application and crypto exchange all rolled into one for mobile devices. They have two offices; one in the U.K. and one in the U.S. 12 When I read their description, it seems that they are positioning themselves alongside other high-speed peer-to-peer payment platforms such as Venmo.
Their fee structure, while competitive with SWIFT, doesn't seem positioned to overtake those money transmitters that will eventually be using xRapid; they charge 1.45% of the total amount transferred. 13
However, they support buying and selling of cryptocurrencies, which large money transmitters don't currently handle. On November 27th, they announced that they would be supporting XRP, and indirectly credited the pressure from @haydentiff as one of the factors that drove their decision:
This was a great tweet in my view: It showed that new fintech money transmitters are paying close attention to XRP's convenience and popularity, and also the power that the XRP Community wields on social media.
Thanks to Skrill for adding XRP to their platform, and thanks to Tiffany Hayden for championing its listing.
A decentralized exchange - like eFin or LocalCoinSwap - is one where peer-to-peer trades can be conducted directly between parties. Some of these exchanges are capitalizing on crypto traders' preference for privacy when trading, although it's yet to be seen how much their exchange functionality can be integrated with mainstream banking, since most countries require some form of KYC or verification by exchanges that integrate with fiat banking services. LocalCoinSwap is one of these decentralized exchanges that doesn't require KYC. 14
On November 26th, the exchange announced that they now support trading of XRP. 15
I'm curious about the rise of some of these decentralized exchanges, and how much volume they will attract in the coming months, especially for those traders that wish to trade in tokens that may be considered 'securities tokens' by the United States' Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Decentralized exchanges may be one route for these types of ICOs to continue un-interrupted while the US, the UK, and other countries solidify a consistent taxonomy of what ICO tokens are considered a security.
I predict that there will be a steady uphill trend in using decentralized exchanges - for those wanting to protect their privacy, and those who wish to avoid the somewhat-awkward peer-to-peer exchanges that focus on OTC trades.
Deeper Dive on Omni
The latest episode of the Ripple Drop included a short clip of Reinhard Cate talking with Tom McLeod, the CEO of Omni. It was a great teaser about what might be possible, generally, about Omni, as it starts to catch on at a large scale, and it served to remind people of Omni's recent integration with XRP.
Basically, the company allows renters to accept payment in XRP, which is a very exciting option when it comes to international expansion, as well as for those in the XRP Community that wish to contribute to the XRP ecosystem by participating as an early adopter of the service.
For a more in-depth interview of Tom McLeod, "Thinking Crypto," a popular YouTube channel run by Tony Edward, released a video on October 29th featuring a twenty-minute conversation about Omni:
The interview was consistent with previous information provided by Tom McLeod, but also included some facts I didn't previously know - about his connection to Scooter Braun, whose name seems to pop up a lot around XRP's Xpring series of investments, and about his long-term vision of integrating the Interledger Protocol in Omni's payment architecture.
At one point, he talks about people renting their personal items as a way for crypto investors to 'mine XRP,' which I thought was a great way to communicate the concept to some people that may be looking to transition away from the older proof-of-work cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. This way of earning cryptocurrency, from an environmental perspective, is literally diametrically opposite of wasteful proof-of-work mining, which uses massive amounts of electricity.
Why "opposite?" Because Omni allows the re-use of items that would otherwise be dormant, cutting down on unnecessary worldwide production of duplicate items that are unneeded from a larger economic perspective. This supports more efficient use of available energy resources.
In addition to the overview of Omni, Tom McLeod talks about his expansion plans in 2019.
If you can't tell from my previous comments about Omni, I am very excited about its potential. With any innovation, there will be some stops-and-starts with different ideas and ways to configure the processes involved, especially when it comes to renting personal property; however, from what I've seen thus far, Tom McLeod seems to have the ability to approach the challenges associated with this new industry.
A Pub in Serbia
It's always great to hear about more retail outlets supporting payment via cryptocurrency, and there is no better cryptocurrency for checking out quickly at a cash register than XRP, which settles in about three seconds.
The latest business supporting payment in XRP brings an international flavor to the retail outlet list, and is located in Serbia:
The thought of finding a cozy bar in a faraway country and being able to pay for a beer with my zerps? It's an awesome feeling, and a reminder of how XRP holds its value no matter the country you happen to be in. If you're ever in New Belgrade two blocks from the Danube, you could do worse than stop by the Pub Crni Mata.
Do not Underestimate XRP
Do you believe in the forward march of progress?
If you do, and you are interested in researching the potential of digital assets and perhaps even purchasing some, I would strongly suggest that you consider XRP. Its cost per transaction is a fraction of the nearest competition, and it is designed to be more decentralized than Bitcoin:
Cost Per Transaction
No other network boasts all of its features, and none can compare with its pending adoption levels for remittance services, sharing economy companies, and micropayment processors.
For the rest of us that already hold XRP and are members of the larger XRP community that actively support adoption efforts for business and retail use, my advice is to remain steadfast and keep your candle burning for the digital asset that I predict will eventually support a large percentage of global cross-border commerce: XRP.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Coline Beulin