Is cynicism 'in vogue?'
If we look at the anti-heroes that Hollywood is pushing to the forefront in entertainment, it's evident that the popular archetype is a person possessing a cynical disposition; the 'new hero' always looks behind the curtain for inevitable signs of corruption. I'm thinking of Sherlock Holmes or virtually any detective drama on Netflix, or even some of the newer science fiction dramas.
Has this conflation between cynicism and wisdom impaired our generosity?
I live in a large city in the Midwest United States, and on various street-corners you can observe individuals holding up tattered cardboard signs informing harried motorists of their plight. Most of these individuals, sadly, are using the money from generous commuters to purchase drugs or alcohol. 1 2 Panhandlers can make hundreds of dollars per day in a surprisingly short amount of time. 3
It's easy for us to harden our hearts.
But we need to widen our perspective, and understand that worthy charities that truly help to address the plights of those in need are available at the touch of a button. One of my favorite charities is St Jude Children's Research Hospital, headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. 4 Founded in 1962, it started by focusing on treating - and curing - children's catastrophic diseases, with a focus on deadly cancers.
I have yet to meet a person 'hard' enough to not shed a tear at the sight of a young child without hair, lost due to side-effects of cancer treatments.
And I'm here to tell you that it's okay to give. You don't have to feel stupid; you're not going to be stolen from; I'm not asking for you to contribute any material amount. Most of us are 'into XRP' for its long-term investment potential, and giving away zerps seems counter-intuitive to most. But for those that don't mind donating the equivalent of $1 worth of XRP, you now have a very easy way to do it: with the XRP Tip Bot.
I'll talk more about this later under the section on the "Good Souls Group."
For now, just keep in mind that, while we are all here to change the world's financial system for the better by investing in and supporting adoption of the digital asset that promises to accelerate global economy, we can also strive to change the world for the better in direct ways as well. By supporting charities as a group, the XRP Community can have a profound impact.
To see for yourself, take a look at how many zerps we've raised for St Jude using micro-donations from our massive community on Twitter:
General Crypto News
The last session of the 115th Congress of the United States just wrapped up over the Holidays, and the legislative process sometimes needs to be re-booted for bills introduced late in the process.
Such was the case for the Token Taxonomy Act, Bill H.R. 7356, which was introduced on December 21st last year by Congressmen Warren Davidson (OH-08) and Darren Soto (FL-09). The purpose of the proposal, according to Congressman Warren Davidson:
“In the early days of the internet, Congress passed legislation that provided certainty and resisted the temptation to over-regulate the market. Our intent is to achieve a similar win for America’s economy and for American leadership in this innovative space.”
It was a great development for the unprecedented financial creations resulting from blockchain technology, and it recognizes the need to consider the unique aspects of cryptographic networks and tokens.
In recognition of the new session this year, one prominent cryptocurrency YouTuber named CryptoEri decided to show some leadership, and ask Congressman Davidson whether he would consider re-introducing the bill. I saw this request, but did not expect a response over Twitter.
Turns out I was wrong:
The original bill had bipartisan support, and its great to see that Congressman Warren Davidson is intent on adding to that, prior to re-introduction. The legislative process sometimes works with 'multiple tries' at legislation before a new measure is passed, but promoting clarification necessary to help grow and keep entrepreneurship in the United States is an important goal that might attract the right kind of attention from members of both parties.
When it comes to philanthropy, Ripple has set the standard in the cryptomarket.
The company's contributions to Donor's Choose is the stuff of legend; in one fell swoop, Ripple met all of the requests submitted by teachers in the United States, earning a mention on the Late Show by Stephen Colbert. 7
Then a $4 million dollar donation to the Ellen Degeneres Wildlife Fund was broadcasted with a surprise announcement of the contribution by Ashton Kutcher in late May. 8 Ripple's matching pledge to Madonna's charity "Raising Malawi" then happened a little over two months later during mid-2018. 9
In addition to these high-profile donations, Ripple also established the University Blockchain Research Initiative, which was less philanthropy than a good strategic investment in the furthering of education on blockchain technology for college students. Ripple has so far contributed to seventeen educational institutions around the world. 10 11
Ripple for Good
To organize their philanthropic efforts, Ripple developed an umbrella organization within the company called "Ripple for Good," which is comprised of RippleWorks, the charity founded by Chris Larsen, Donor's Choose.org, which was one of the highest-profile contributions in 2018, and the University Blockchain Research Initiative. 12
Now that the umbrella organization adds a bit more definition to their efforts, it will be interesting to see what types of next steps Ripple takes to support these component efforts, and whether any new organizations will be added to the list in 2019.
As it stands, Ripple is doing a fantastic job communicating its goals and efforts for each one; I predict we'll hear more about these efforts as 2019 gets underway.
Kuwait Finance House
We first learned of the Kuwait Finance House's membership in RippleNet in May of 2018; and in October it was revealed by Waleed Mandani, the Chief Officer for their Retail & Private Banking Group, that the bank had completed a pilot with RippleNet for remittances. 13 14
It was proof positive that the KFH was heading in the direction of real-time settlement for cross-border transactions.
On January 6th, KFH tweeted that they'd rolled out their own cross-border remittance service, using Ripple technology on the back-end:
The service adds another high-profile remittance application to the list of banks that have built their new capabilities on top of Ripple's real-time replacement for SWIFT messaging. It's further evidence of Ripple's ability to extend its international reach to all areas of the globe, throughout both the ASEAN and MENA regions, in addition to the traditional correspondence banking centers in the West.
In recent blogs, I've mentioned how XRP Community developers like Nixer and @xRpTo_O (both are Twitter handles ) have pioneered the use of voice-activation for tipping, whether it's using Alexa or Siri - Amazon and Apple's AI & voice recognition, respectively.
Now Nixer has decided to integrate voice-activated tipping with the Google AI & voice recognition, called Google Assistant:
He hasn't provided an update yet, but once he's got a working version, it will bring voice-activated tipping full circle for most technology users.
Good Souls Group
The Good Souls Group is a collection of people in the XRP Community that have banded together to create an umbrella organization to monitor the use of the XRP Tip Bot for charity fund-raising, and to create a mechanism for organized promotion of its individual philanthropic efforts.
The first person to champion the use of the XRP Tip Bot was KingBlue (Twitter avatar).
Against the odds, against criticism, and against suspicion of his motivations, he saw the potential of marshaling large numbers of community members to support donations to St Jude Children's Research Hospital. He had to determine how St Jude would access the funds sent into the XRP Tip Bot (only the owner of the charity twitter account can access the XRP donated), and worked with WietseWind on the logistics of fund-raising; WietseWind configured donation pages for each XRP Tip Bot account.
It's natural for most of us to distrust others online, especially given the mixed history of charitable donations using the Internet. But KingBlue has proven himself, and established procedures for monitoring the charitable fund-raising through the Good Souls Group, in collaboration with the other members.
The group's membership is currently by invitation only. While anybody can use the XRP Tip Bot to raise money, and they don't necessarily have to be a member of the Good Souls Group, group membership indicates that their efforts have been recognized and evaluated from a qualitative standpoint, by KingBlue and others.
If you are approved as a member of GSG along with the charity you're sponsoring, it benefits you in a few different ways:
- A certified member gets to add to their banner and site
- The charity and its sponsor have been vetted by the GSG
- Added exposure of the fund-raising due to GSG membership
The goals of the group are clear:
Vision Statement: To create a better world for all by using the Good Soul Business methodology.
Missions statement: Create self-sustaining ecosystems of social good by combining the power of IoI (Internet of Information), IoT (Internet of Things), & IoV (Internet of Value) using 24/7 365 micro donations.
The group works together to establish and conform to agreed-upon standards of fund-raising, and each one has a way for individuals to make donations either directly or through the XRP Tip Bot. Thus far, the charities and members include:
Children on the Edge
Happy Kids Dirty Hands
Filters of Hope
All of them are worthy causes, and have benefited from the inherent generosity of the XRP Community. The Good Souls Group hopes that its efforts to monitor the quality of the charitable fund-raising associated with the XRP Tip Bot will help earn the trust of those in the XRP Community over time.
I agree with their goals and approach, and I applaud their effort to bring more positive attention to the philanthropic efforts of the community via an organized group that keeps an eye on standards and trust. The group created a Twitter monitor called "GSG_Charities" to track and broadcast donations as they come in. To see who's giving, you can take a look for yourself any time: GSG_Charities
The other unique feature of "GSG_Charities" is that when you donate to the twitter account, it's equally distributed to each of the member charities in the Good Souls Group, automatically.
Anybody can promote a charity using the XRP Tip Bot, but if you're looking to earn an invitation to the Good Souls Group, keep in mind the vision communicated by King Blue, who quoted an author from the Urban Dictionary:
"A 'good soul' is someone who respects and is helpful to others despite knowing that the world is full of disrespectful, aggressive, deceitful and ambitious people seeking to take advantage of others. The 'good soul' is aware of all this, perhaps and most usually having been like these self-centered people himself or herself: but the 'good soul' is the first to be kind and willing to trust first by giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. A 'good soul' is essentially genuine or sincere. They are often honest and genuinely care about others.
Being a 'good soul' does not mean a weakling that you can take advantage of endlessly: they may even be a great fighter in defending themselves and their family or friends, and can be aggressive if it is absolutely necessary: usually for the common good. A 'good soul' is not timid or a coward: they’re just compassionate and kind."
Note: GSG artwork contributed by @XTRA_HRDCOR_XRP
Exxir, the Iranian-based crypto on-ramp, received more than its share of attention during the late-spring tightening of Internet restrictions in the country. Even as diplomacy between the US and Iran faltered, residents inside Iran that were hedging against a quickly-falling national currency by purchasing cryptocurrency.
This technique faced obstacles though, as some citizens noticed an unofficial restriction on access to popular exchange sites. 15
However, crypto's censorship-resistance was on full display, and in the end, people continued exchanging Iran's national currency for crypto, as well as US dollars, in opposition to the government's efforts to restrict abandonment of its national currency. Exxir's platform is based on automated exchange software that the team calls Elixir.
The exchange recently conducted a poll to determine which cryptocurrency to add to their platform, and XRP won handily over the contenders. Leonidas, always on the lookout for new exchanges adding XRP support, congratulated the exchange, and gently reminded them of the separation between Ripple (the company) and XRP (the cryptocurrency):
I appreciate Exxir's professional response to Leonidas's reminder of the naming convention, and look forward to extending the ability to buy XRP to people that are 'in-country' in Iran. Thus far, they've been restricted to using only traditional OTC services to purchase crypto; hopefully Exxir provides a way to ease the transition to crypto from fiat.
While Iranian citizens have long been using the Internet to trade crypto by accessing exchanges like Binance, having a local on-ramp for those looking to use the national currency encourages new users that haven't already 'purchased their crypto.'
The NFC Walletcard is a new take on offline storage of sensitive data.
It stores passwords, secret keys, or any other information you wish to secure, on a card with an embedded chip. The wallet card uses a companion application on a smartphone. Using near-field communication (NFC), the application can use the smartphone to read the card.
The company publishes its technical specifications on the website, stating: 16
"Our cards are open by default and work out-of-the-box with any NFC software and mobile application you like. The NFC chip comes preformatted to NDEF to ensure compatibility with smartphones.
However our mobile application contains additional features to make the usage of your cards more secure and easy.
For security reasons, our application is totally separated from the internet. The app will never reach or call any servers, and will never connect to the internet."
The company noted on January 6th that this architecture allows it to support the storage of keys for any cryptocurrency by definition, so it qualifies as one additional potential wallet for those looking to manage their own secret keys to their XRP. 17
Note: I do not endorse any specific wallet.
Norwegian Block Exchange (NBX) is a Norwegian cryptocurrency exchange that also aspires to be a payment platform for the airline industry using those same digital assets. 18
They are not yet open for business, but on January 2nd, in response to a question from an XRP fan, Nordic Ann, they answered with an affirmation of XRP's listing on the exchange:
Norwegian Block Exchange is funded by a well-known Norwegian businessman, Bjorn Kjos, billionaire and CEO of Norwegian Air.
Stig Kjos-Mathisen, chairman of NBX, noted that the exchange would be targeting integration with the airline industry, among other areas, in addition to providing a reputable new crypto exchange: 19
“One of the most important thing for us is to build an ecosystem around the solutions we develop ... the ecosystem within the Norwegian group is important, but also ecosystems in the airline industry.”
He indicated that KYC will be done in a way that allows the crypto platform to integrate with the heavily-regulated airline industry, bridging to gap to the world of censorship-proof cryptocurrency.
If even a portion of that vision is achieved, I think it will be worthy addition to the overall cryptomarket.
Think 'Win-Win' For Charitable Causes
It's amazing to me that the XRP Tip Bot has been able to pull together and channel our highest and noblest sentiments, providing a mechanism to absorb our generosity and make certain that it gets to the right place. It's easy, it's fun, and people are immediately recognized for their contributions, no matter the amount.
That's the role we can play: While Ripple does its part to seek out high-profile causes to make a dramatic impact, we can also do our thing within the XRP Community, supporting and channeling funds to worthy causes.
We're all 'early to the party' when it comes to cryptocurrency, but the world is quickly catching up. 2019 holds much potential for the adoption of XRP, and its use in payment flows by major corporations, banks, and remittance processors.
Parallel to XRP changing the way that cross-border value flows, we can also support charities along the way that will benefit from our combined attention.
The technology involved in the XRP ecosystem promises to accelerate the worldwide economy to new levels, benefiting every person. In addition, the XRP Community is making a tangible difference for worthy causes. These efforts are setting an example for the rest of the cryptomarket: The Internet of Value promises to make moving money as easy as sending a text message, and now we're seeing how it's facilitating instant contributions to life-changing causes parallel to this global transformation.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Clark Tibbs