How many times have we heard the phrase - ‘The future of payments’ Or 'In the future, blockchain will revolutionize payments?’
Now ask yourself this: How do we confidently know what the future holds, if we haven't got today’s payment problems sorted?
I’m afraid to give you the bad news, but the future isn’t just going to magically create itself or miraculously give birth to a new financial world based on perceptions. It must be built. Today.
Fintech businesses and startups need to be funneling their thoughts and solutions towards today’s problems in order to build a brighter, fairer and sustainable economic future.
The truth is Ripple, Coil, developers, entrepreneurs and any entity absorbed by the IOV are actually creating the future of payments as you read this post.
How? By solving today's problems first.
For a moment, remove your crypto-goggles and analyze the current spread of digital assets and businesses that believe they've created the next “big” or “future-proof” idea in payments. You’ll soon realise that the majority have got their heart set on ideas that heavily rely on future predictions.
What I mean by this sentiment, is that they’re building and pitching ideas that solve problems and challenges that simply might or might not exist tomorrow.
It’s outright speculative thinking.
It’s like a car salesman trying to sell you a car with wings because there won’t be a need for roads in the future. Ridiculous.
Now, I'm not saying that a handful of these businesses or startups won’t get it right; with a bit of luck, some will. Although, what these businesses are missing is one crucial step in the process of ideation, strategy and business development. And that’s solving the problems and challenges that currently stand before them.
Problems won't just disappear over time and can’t be patched with band-aid solutions. It's the immediate barriers that need passing, so that in 5, 10 or 20 years from now, there won’t be a need to address them, there will only be a solid foundation. A solid strategy to build upon, but it needs to be built today with an all-important client buy-in.
Magical crystal ball
If there's one thing I've learnt over the years in my line of work, it's that clients can't see that far ahead.
That’s right. I'm sorry to break it to you, but there’s no enchanted forest where clients from across the globe gather around a magical crystal ball to depict future outcomes of business.
Here's why pitching ideas for the future, and not today ultimately smell of failure. Clients don't buy it.
Businesses and startups need to scale back their predictive thinking. They need to make their clients feel like it's just as an achievable idea today, as it is tomorrow. An idea that has longevity.
To give you a real world example of what I mean, In 2001, Apple saw an immediate issue in which people were expected to buy full-length music albums. Enter iTunes, and people could buy tracks individually. Genius. They never pitched TV shows, movies, games or podcasts off the bat. They kept the problem and solution single minded; and grew their platform over time. Is it all sounding familiar?
Building for tomorrow.
Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, recently spoke at the Singapore Fintech Festival in early November. In a one-on-one conversation with the IMF’s Ross Leckow, Mr Garlinghouse confidently discusses the future outcomes of payments by addressing today’s economic landscape.
¹ “The big picture we are trying to solve at a macro level is enabling an Internet of Value - a world where value moves like information does today. The introduction of the Internet in the ‘90s has driven data interoperability and catalyzed opportunity for global commerce. But value interoperability, the seamless exchange of money around the world, does not exist today. Close to 3 billion people are unbanked, and there is tremendous opportunity for us to bring them into the community, into the global economy. We must totally change the nature of how payments flow around the world. We must remove the friction and make the stream of value more instantaneous and reliable.”
To add to his statement, there’s in fact trillions of dormant capital trapped across the globe; payments are sluggish, non-transparent and we literally pay an arm and a leg in fees to send a measly $20 to a person in another country.
From a web content perspective, providers are restrained by the shackles of intruding advertising to make ends meet; as a result people must pay multiple online subscriptions for content they might not need or use - thankfully, that’s all being solved today by Coil’s web monetization model.
Let me reiterate. These are today’s problems. Not tomorrow’s. And clients are buying up solutions.
Since 2012, Ripple have set out to solve these problems for clients by looking at the immediate needs of the financial world. xCurrent, Ripple’s enterprise software solution is the perfect example.
Subsequent to slow, inefficient legacy payment systems like Swift, xCurrent enables banks to instantly settle cross-border payments with end-to-end tracking and transparency.
And the momentum only built from there. Ripple continued to pitch solutions like xVia and xRapid, which dramatically lowers the capital requirements for liquidity by utilising the digital asset XRP.
Today, we see a convergence amongst these three products; they’re all wrapped up in an overarching network in which we call RippleNet.
100 paying FIs sitting under one roof, with the ability to seamlessly interconnect with products and each other in order to find the cheapest and fastest path from payment to settlement across the globe. Most importantly the digital asset - XRP, is only a hand’s reach for each and every one of theses businesses through the assistance of multi-hop.
Now ask yourself this question: How confident are you that Ripple will revolutionize payments today, and into the future?
Is XRP the digital asset for payments now and tomorrow? I can confidently say yes. As for the competition, my answer lies in this light-hearted clip below.
We can’t wait for the future. We need solutions today that build tomorrow’s foundations.