“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” is a philosophical thought experiment that to a certain extent can apply to digital assets as well and XRP specifically.
As private investors who have immersed ourselves into the world of digital assets we are often confused if not outright frustrated by anyone who doesn’t share our excitement. Especially so when talking about regulators and government bodies!
How can they not see what is coming?
How can they not support what is coming?
How could anyone not want the whole world to benefit from what distributed ledger technology and digital assets can give it?
In short, what are these regulators doing!?!?
Anyone is free to build on top of the XRP Ledger but for now we’re primarily focused on the Ripple use case as it is the most advanced of the XRPL projects.
Which brings us back to the above questions which are in fact the wrong questions.
What are the right questions? In my opinion we should be asking what exactly are some of these countries warning against and, most importantly, do those warnings have any impact on the Ripple use case for XRP?
The saying goes that there is no smoke without fire but I would suggest that in this case we may be looking for fire where there isn’t even any smoke to begin with. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Malaysia has been a near deafening chorus of anti-crypto rhetoric over the past year or so. Warnings against ICOs, general cautionary statements issued by the government, an advisory note from Negara Bank regarding fraudulent crypto related activities and so on. Yet here we have CIMB, which is amongst the largest both in Malaysia and the region, proudly and publicly joining RippleNet (https://ripple.com/insights/cimb-group-joins-ripplenet-to-power-instant-payments-across-asean/).
No one needs a reminder of the crypto battle being fought in India. Forget warnings and cautionary statements issued to retail investors, we have very public statements of a possible ban still looming in the air.
As is the case with Malaysia, apparently one of the largest banks in India didn’t get the memo. Kotak Mahindra Bank is a proud member of RippleNet (https://ripple.com/insights/ripple-improves-access-india-kotak-mahindra-bank/) and this was announced in parallel to the war being fought within their parliament and court system.
Annoyed with the slow pace of the SEC in the United States? Turns out neither PNC Bank nor Ripple are (https://ripple.com/insights/pnc-bank-embraces-blockchain-and-joins-ripplenet/).
These are not insignificant banks. Each is amongst the largest ether in their domestic market, region or both. Granted none are confirmed to immediately be using XRP as part of their settlement process but we now definitively know that any kind of access to XCurrent and Ripple products enables that possibility.
So, what is going on? Does no one care what their governments are doing? Or is it perhaps a case of the governments not directing these statements to the banks and financial institutions within their respective jurisdictions?
Brad Tells It Like It Is:
Lets filter through the noise and take a moment to listen from the man in charge at Ripple, Brad Garlinghouse.
He gave a roughly 45 minute interview on stage at the Faster Future Forum in Thailand on March 12th, 2018. Below is the link.
I highly recommend listening anytime you get a chance to hear Brad speak about blockchain, digital assets and XRP. He speaks with clarity and passion and more often than not tells us quite plainly what the plan is.
For the purpose of this blog I would like to focus in on his comments from roughly 25:00 onwards where he speaks about the interledger protocol and how interoperability between the various blockchains can work.
“I dont think you have to understand the technology behind all of these things and how they work in order to participate in the blockchain ecosystem. One of the core technologies behind what Ripple is building called the Interledger Protocol. The premise here is that there won’t be one ledger to rule them all so we need to think about interoperability between ledgers”.
“We want to make sure that our technology in some ways like TCP IP … TCP IP is the underlying technology of the internet of information .... we see the ILP as the open source technology that underpins the internet of value. We are selling connectors between bank ledgers and financial institution ledgers and ILP and enabling them to use that technology to transact in a trusted way in real time.”
I don’t know about you but I can’t succinctly articulate how TCP IP works or how SMTP works. I can however articulate how I can access websites hosted on servers outside of my browsing country and how I can email Outlook users from my Gmail account. For lack of better words … interoperability.
Just as very few people can explain how or even what TCP IP and SMTP are, we all use the internet in nearly every aspect of our lives. It works, it makes our lives better, it’s created a more connected world and even though we might not fully understand it we also can’t imagine a world without it.
Does a falling tree make a sound?
Ripple is using XRP to enable the plumbing that will serve the future global financial ecosystem between payment providers of all sorts, both national and private sector.
The regulators in various countries, some more aggressively than others, seek to protect retail investors while simultaneously providing clarity to those payment providers. Apart from the fortunate few retail investors that have allocated their money to XRP, Ripple isn’t positioning its use case to be known by the common man or woman on the street. We don’t need to understand why our money is suddenly being transferred faster or cheaper just as we don't need to understand how Outlook and Gmail communicate with one another, we just need to benefit from it.
Try to remember that the next time you read about a country banning the holding or trading of digital assets. At least for those of us in the XRP ecosystem and with respect to the ecosystem Ripple is building, it’s irrelevant.
Whether it’s the aforementioned Malaysian, Indian or US banks appearing within RippleNet or Ripple partners such as American Express and Lian Lian making headway in China through recently announced government issued licenses (https://www.finextra.com/newsarticle/32934/american-express-wins-approval-to-enter-chinese-payment-card-market), always remember to zoom out to glance at the big picture. Governments are aiming to protect us while simultaneously working to create a better underlying infrastructure for us to benefit from.
So, does a tree make a sound? In the world that Ripple is using XRP to build the answer is no.