Ask any skilled problem-solver what the key tool is for formulating a solution, and you will inevitably arrive at one inescapable answer: imagination.
There are many problems in the world, and some are far more serious than others. World peace, financial inclusion, poverty, homelessness... I could go on. But each of these problems is solve-able. Some have become bitter and discontent over the years as they grow older, caught in the treadmill of daily life as they see the world struggle to free itself from the shackles of historic limitations and conflicts.
Perhaps it's a side-effect of my crypto-colored glasses, but I see this struggle in what Ripple, Coil, and various other fintech companies are trying to accomplish - on all fronts.
They are building the next generation of financial systems and payment rails that will make sending money as easy as sending a text message, and yet we see inertia from powerful financial interests. In some cases, traditional organizations will refuse to change until they are forced to because of competition. Asheesh Birla mentioned this concept in one of his presentations recently.
One way that we crypto owners and fans can contribute is through helping others see what could be.
I can visualize the world as it should be; it should be as easy to send money to anybody in another country as sending them information. We could use cryptocurrency for micropayments to enable whole new forms of fund-raising for those in need. And we can use the collective might of the crypto market and the crypto community to address limited thinking on the part of obtuse leaders who are preventing this future from becoming a reality.
One of our tools is imagination, and we are now sharpening that tool in the form of creative content: Writing. YouTube videos. Memes. Art. Short stories. Through our efforts, we can help each other visualize the future, and once we collectively have that same vision, nothing can stop us.
There were two major announcements from Ripple that were impossible to miss.
On July 30th, Ripple announced a new philanthropic endeavor; they are offering to match all donations to a charitable organization called Raising Malawi. Malawi is a country in the Southeast part of Africa. It's an elongated country whose borders stretch far north and south, bordering the entire western side of Lake Malawi on its Eastern edge, and Zambia and Mozambique on its opposite sides. 1
The shocking statistic: Out of the total population of eighteen million, there are approximately one million orphans.
"Raising Malawi supports orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through health, education and community support"
Ripple announced that they would be matching all public donations to the organization from July 30th through August 31st, and also helping individuals sponsor children directly through Facebook: 4
"We’re honored to be a part of Raising Malawi’s amazing work with some of the world’s most under-served children and are grateful to our investors at Sound Ventures for making the introduction to us and this important cause."
The quote is from Eric van Miltenburg, Ripple's Senior Vice President of Operations at Ripple, and it provided a brief nod to Sound Ventures as well, which was founded by Ashton Kutcher and Guy Osecary. 5
It's my belief that Raising Malawi is one of those charitable organizations that directly addresses desperate conditions in a part of the world where the need is greatest. While many in the West debate about an entirely different set of problems, orphaned children in other parts of the world struggle for basic survival - some tragically without parents. Not only is this a worthy cause, it assists our fellow human beings with inclusion in the larger world, not only providing survival, but education and hope for the future as well.
Kudos to Ripple once again for showing their steel-spined leadership as they reach out to help the most vulnerable among us.
Running a close second in terms of high-profile visibility was Ripple's booking of Bill Clinton as a keynote speaker for the second SWELL conference.
For those that may be new to banking or fintech, SWELL is a conference that was started last year to provide an annual forum for banks and financial institutions to discuss blockchain technology. Similar to how SWIFT historically hosted SIBOS each year, Ripple now organizes and holds the SWELL conference. This year, the conference will be in San Francisco, and Ripple announced the addition of Bill Clinton to the list of speakers via their official SWELL website, Ripple Insights, and also Twitter: 6 7 8
Ripple offered this introduction to the 42nd President of the United States:
"At a time when groundbreaking technology and regulation were often on a collision course, President Clinton helped usher in a period of extreme growth and adoption of the Internet, shaping what it is today. He also established programs that bridged the “digital divide” and brought new technology to under-served communities around the world."
Last year, I was amazed by SWELL's keynote speaker list, which included Dr. Ben Bernanke, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and Don Tapscott. 9 Given the enormity of that group's influence in the global financial markets and forward thinking about the direction of technology, I was truly skeptical that Ripple would be able to raise the bar.
It looks like they've done just that, however, and I can't wait to see more of the agenda for the conference as they unveil further details. To keep up to date on their planning, here is the link for the agenda thus far: SWELL Agenda
New Ripple Video: Liquidity Provisioning with RippleNet
Ripple released a new video on August 1st titled "Liquidity Provisioning with RippleNet:"
The video begins by discussing the current state of banks' usage of Nostro accounts, along with how much settlement costs are influenced by this present 'status quo' in banking.
It then goes on to describe how RippleNet is configured to provide options for banks that wish to utilize RippleNet for replacement of either part or all of these Nostro accounts; it stratifies the approaches into three categories:
- Leveraging Existing Nostros
- Third-party Fiat Liquidity
- Settlement Through Digital Assets (XRP)
While banks will be curious about exploring some of these options, it's evidence of Ripple's continued standardization of its liquidity sourcing options and customer experience for both financial institutions and banks. Of course, this video will find much enthusiasm within the XRP Community; the timing of the video is on-point as well, given the date of the SWELL conference scheduled two months from now.
It was reported on July 30th that SBI Holdings has acquired a 12% stake in Clear Markets, a derivatives platform. 10 Clear Markets is a US-based company located in North Carolina. Mark Brickell, the CEO of Clear Markets, had this to say: 11
"As much as 50 per cent of cash trading in cryptocurrency has taken place in Japan, so that is a nice place for us to start."
The target market for the derivatives platform is institutional (larger) investors and financial institutions. There are some existing derivative platforms such as CME Group, but as a whole, the crypto market is still under-represented; this investment by SBI Holdings demonstrates its methodical approach to vertically integrate all aspects of cryptocurrency, including, among others, mining, trading, and hedging.
When Stefan Thomas and others left Ripple to create Coil, they took with them the ability to update the Github Codius repositories. 12 And they've been busy; the team recently released a new version of Codius:
Among other things, this new version of Codius checks that each host fully supports WebSockets, which is a popular and secure way for distributed application developers to connect to external resources over the Internet.
The self-check is quite strict: If it fails, it will, according to a blog by Nathan Lie, 13
"...bar the host from being discovered by the rest of the network."
This is a necessary step in ensuring that the entire Codius network is comprised of hosts that can successfully support contributors' decentralized applications and smart contracts. Congratulations to the Coil team on the new release of Codius 1.2.0.
In my most recent blog, I described the news that Bitrue, a growing new Singaporean exchange, decided to use XRP as its cryptocurrency base pairing. This development followed on the heels of many exchanges adding direct fiat pairings to XRP; it's the beginning of XRP's rise as the primary method of quickly moving value into and out of exchanges, as traders can do so in under four seconds.
It turns out that Bitrue was only the start: Two more exchanges have decided to use XRP as their base cryptocurrency pairing as well: DCEX and Koinex.
DCEX is a cryptocurrency exchange based in San Francisco. The company that built its platform is known as AlphaPoint, which is a separate blockchain technology company. The exchange opened formally on July 30th, just days after Bitrue. Here is DCEX's Twitter announcement:
DCEX has gone beyond what is expected of an ordinary crypto exchange at its starting point, and has stated that they will support several innovative products and services - some of which are based on the inherently fast speed of the XRP Ledger: 14 15
- Arbitrage among currency pairs on different exchanges: XRP as a base currency allows for seamless, high-speed transfers between exchanges to take advantage of price inefficiencies.
- Faster execution times with lower latency: As a U.S. based marketplace built for speed, the DCEX platform allows for a very rapid transaction volume with a network designed to facilitate up to one million transactions per second. Additionally, XRP blockchain transactions typically settle in under four seconds, allowing for faster multi-exchange strategies and providing a speed advantage over other money movement options.
- High frequency crypto trading: Advanced participants can easily connect to APIs to facilitate high frequency crypto trading strategies.
- Increase of overall liquidity in cryptocurrency space, using the XRP protocol: Availability of novel currency pairs allows for new conversion pathways for market participants and gives traders easy ways to access many of the top cryptocurrencies.
- Lower transaction fees: Market participants will be able to rapidly move XRP between DCEX and other marketplaces at a low network transaction cost as XRP protocol withdrawals allow for lower costs.
- Margin trading: Traders can increase returns when leveraging their investment to take advantage of trading opportunities as they arise.
DCEX is well-connected. Their platform was built by AlphaPoint, the company behind the technology that also underpins other high-profile exchanges such as The Royal Mint and the London Block Exchange (LBX). 16 And which company, in turn, invested in DCEX? Michael Novogratz’s firm Galaxy Digital Ventures. Michael Novogratz is a well-known billionaire investor in blockchain technology companies.
Based on its innovative technology, its usage of XRP as the exchange's base pairing, and the aforementioned impressive set of investors and industry connections, I predict that DCEX has the potential to become one of the top US-based exchanges.
In addition to Bitrue and DCEX, another exchange - this one based in India - also uses XRP as their primary base currency. The exchange's name is Koinex, and it lists 21 crypto pairings with XRP, which is more than it offers for both Bitcoin or Ethereum - combined:
The increasing usage of XRP as a base pairing among exchanges serves to make trader-based arbitrage more straight-forward. Unlike the clunky usage of other cryptocurrencies, XRP can settle with finality in under four seconds, facilitating quick price discovery globally, no matter where the exchange is located. It's no wonder Miguel Vias from Ripple recently started a new and popular hashtag: #xrpthebase.
XRP The Base
While #xrpthebase is a new drumbeat among crypto traders, especially those that support XRP, it's more than just a slogan; so far we know of three exchanges that use XRP as a base currency, or as the de facto 'most-paired' cryptocurrency:
- DCEX (United States)
- Bitrue (Singapore)
- Koinex (India)
In addition to this list, keep in mind that the influence of Bitcoin as the gate-keeper to the cryptocurrency market is waning very quickly. In the early years of crypto, there were very few exchanges where customers could transition their fiat money into cryptocurrency, and when they did so, they were usually required to first purchase Bitcoin, and only then purchase the cryptocurrency of their choice.
This monopolistic advantage as cryptocurrency gatekeeper is one of the reasons that Bitcoin's volume rose so quickly during that same time period. However, as 2017 and 2018 unfolded, we now see that Bitcoin's influence is starting to wane, despite its continued role as the market leader in volume. Not unlike some other industries, we are now seeing the 'first mover' advantage starting to fade; it takes time for this to occur, but the trend is now clear which digital asset is taking away Bitcoin's role as the preferred mechanism for moving money into and out of the crypto market.
Similarly, we're seeing many larger exchanges adding direct fiat pairings to all cryptocurrencies, leveling the playing field and making it easier for investors to quickly acquire their preferred digital asset.
Volabit Now Supports Direct Purchase of XRP
Volabit is a cryptocurrency direct-sale platform based in Mexico that was one of the first sites to support conversion of the Mexican peso (MXN) into various cryptocurrency choices. On July 19th, they announced officially via Twitter that they now support XRP:
Note that they are not an exchange as such, but more of an entry point into cryptocurrency directly from the Mexican Peso. They allow site members to buy XRP directly, and also sell it directly at "a guaranteed fixed price." 17
Coinsquare is a Canadian-based exchange. On July 31st, they announced that they added XRP to the list of supported cryptocurrencies:
Even though the team at Coinsquare was self-effacing about XRP support being considered "in beta," I'll note that according to their blog, the only thing that users cannot currently do is withdraw their XRP; however, users can withdraw value if they first convert it to Bitcoin or Ethereum. Coinsquare has indicated that: 19
"Our team is working hard to have XRP withdrawals implemented as soon as possible."
However, even in beta, they've indicated that users can trade using XRP pairings against fiat or other cryptocurrencies.
Coinsquare is a welcome addition to the XRP ecosystem, and represents one more valuable entry point into XRP for Canadian crypto investors.
XRP Ledger Decentralization Update
In previous blogs, I've detailed the overall plan that Ripple is following to ensure that the XRP Ledger not only matches the decentralization levels of competing networks such as Bitcoin, but exceeds them.
The overall road map is almost nearing completion, with the final step to include a process where the 'recommended UNL' - the recommended list of trusted validators that serves as the default setting for validator operators - is adjusted to include a majority of non-Ripple validators. The process works thus: For every two new non-Ripple validators added to the recommended unique node list (UNL), Ripple will remove one of theirs.
Thus far, Ripple has included a number of new validators on the recommended UNL that are run by other stakeholder organizations and businesses that benefit from reliable and secure operation of the XRP Ledger. And now, with the latest update, Ripple made a dramatic statement by including two validators that are run by XRP Community members:
Both of these developers are considered trustworthy members of the XRP Community, and have demonstrated that they are stakeholders invested in contributing not only to the XRP Community, but the overall health of the XRP Ledger through their consistently high performance in maintaining their validators as Warren Paul Anderson indicated. With the addition of these two new non-Ripple validators, the overall composition of the recommended UNL stands at: 18
- 12 Validators run by Ripple
- 8 Validators run by non-Ripple stakeholders
WietseWind Appears on CKJ Crypto News
I admired the fun, diplomatic and detail-oriented nature of how CKJ Crypto News handled the YouTube interview - I was already subscribed to his channel, but I made a mental note to watch more of his videos. The session was filled with amazing content and of course background perspective from WietseWind about his own involvement with the XRP Ledger.
Here is just one of the questions - along with WietseWind's answer:
Question: "You said you were going to work on getting XRP Tips on Instagram also? And plus, you also said something about ... Stream Labs...?
Answer: "Yeah.... it's a company; they allow users to stream their gaming online.... They're focused on allowing people to tip the gamer who's streaming. They (currently) allow people to tip Bitcoin I believe; I offered to help them - of course for free - to implement XRP as well."
That statement alone should be enough for those XRP Community members that may still not know about him to understand the level of his dedication. WietseWind's applications and work have helped the XRP community inject fun into almost all of our frequently-used social media platforms.
The video is a great introduction to his work and his motivations: If you've been wondering how and why WietseWind is so good at what he does, in this video the interviewer asks him about his personal background and what prompted his love of code development and code architecture. The stories are incredible and give XRP fans even more reason to cheer the new member of the XRP default UNL.
It was entertaining to see two of his two Eclectus - Dino and Pepper - make a special guest appearance throughout the whole video; I guarantee you will enjoy this interview!
Tokens and ICOs on the XRP Ledger
RareData is on a roll. As he continues work on his new project called the XRP Toolkit, he stopped and took the time to cull through previous developers' instructions for how to use the XRP ledger's native token creation functionality to organize an ICO. While the idea isn't new - the first ICO on the XRP Ledger was done in 2017 - the XRP Ledger is not as popular as Ethereum for organizing ICOs.
Without assigning any sort of judgment on whether the concept is good or bad, RareData made the effort to compose a step-by-step guide for how to properly issue tokens in support of an ICO, and noted some key flaws in previous ICOs.
Like his recent contributions to help tighten security of online wallets available for XRP, his documentation for ICOs is equally helpful.
Currently, he's mulling the idea of conducting his own ICO as well; although he hasn't made a final decision on whether to do one or how he would organize it, he's currently organizing a poll via XRP Chat to gauge other community members' opinions on the matter. To read through his ICO procedure documentation, and to participate in the poll, refer to his thread on XRP Chat: RareData's ICO Procedures and Poll.
NOTE: I do not endorse any specific ICO - or third party wallet. Please do your own due diligence before participating or using, respectively.
While there has been multiple TED talks given on the topic of blockchain technology, I don't know of any that have focused specifically on Ripple Solutions or XRP. One XRP Community member decided to do something about it.
On July 31st, @robsattler participated in a 'pitch' for Ted Talk speakers at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. The idea is for presenters to try out for the higher-profile Ted Talk event scheduled for later in October of this year at TEDx JCU Cairns.
Rob is a well-versed communications professional who has helped hundreds of businesses and projects with marketing their products and innovations: His Australian-based company is known as Redouble.
The video doesn't show his full presentation, but it's one example of many regarding how XRP Community members are volunteering to take an active role in getting the word out about what the XRP Ledger can do for global commerce and international payments. The TED Talks platform is a very popular venue for thought leaders to inform viewers about new trends, topics and concepts that they may not have known previously; I hope that Rob is selected for further consideration by TED Talks.
Conclusion of the Short Story Contest on XRP Chat
The final date and time for the short story contest submission was reached yesterday. @XRPeteSampras organized the contest via XRP Chat, and defined a deadline of midnight, August 1st.
The next phase of the contest as defined in his contest post is the voting process:
"Sometime on August 1st, a new post will be made on XRPChat that will include the title of each of the eligible entries in the contest that the community can vote on. Voting will go on for exactly one week until midnight, August 8th, 2018. This will allow the community to have at least a full week to read all entries and cast their vote for the best short story."
He's indicated that 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place entries will all receive some prize money - and that money is substantial:
- 1,000 XRP for the best XRP-related short story
- 500 XRP for second place
- 250 XRP for third place
He has now centralized the voting into one post on XRP Chat:
Note: only current XRP Chat members will be eligible to vote.
For those that would like to review one or all of the short stories prior to voting, or solely to appreciate and enjoy the creative content, the original submissions can be viewed here: Fan Submissions
Let's Imagine the Future...Together
As the world grapples with the concept of blockchain technology and the cryptocurrencies that have been created on top of it, governments, businesses, communities, stakeholder organizations, and individuals will all see inherent conflict based on the different ways that they've imagined the future.
Modern solutions such as Codius, ILP and the XRP Ledger point to an alternate future that can be achieved if we work together to help make it a reality. It implies a willingness to let go of our distrust of each other and have constructive conversations with opposing camps; as it stands now, the crypto market is divisive, tribal, and has shown a tendency towards exclusivity.
It doesn't need to be this way.
We can achieve meaningful change in the financial markets, change the entire structure of the way that money moves throughout the world, and create a version of the future where multiple digital assets can coexist and be valued according to their use cases. We need to help the most narrow-minded among us see this possible future and how to achieve it; I do not subscribe to the idea of 'one winner' in crypto. There should be room for any technology solution that can solve problems better than the technology that came before it.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art & XRPTheBase Art: Thank you to @XrpYoda