Success is a double-edged sword.
When you are the best at what you do, the news media and the public will do two things: Place you on a pedestal and also underneath a microscope. People hang on every word, and a peanut gallery stands ready to pillory any laziness in communication. It's not enough to be the best, or to have the best product; precision is a required ingredient for continued success.
And this is why we need to be precise when it comes to XRP.
XRP will eventually claim the number one spot in cryptocurrency, but before that point, it's a good idea for the XRP Community to steer clear of both excessively positive (FOMO) or excessively negative (FUD) statements, and instead let the facts speak for themselves. After all, the facts are incredible when it comes to XRP.
We've seen firsthand how much attention an upward traversing of the crypto rankings will bring from our experience in January of this year. And recently, there's been a lot of talk about xRapid implementations and the impending use of XRP for liquidity sourcing. Despite this, we are still subject to speculative sources of demand, and it's important for the entire community supporting XRP to patiently get the facts out. And when I say facts, I don't mean positive or negative statements; I'm talking about accuracy.
If a friend or other person on social media asks a question, remember to provide the most focused and accurate answer possible in response, instead of falling into the trap of attempting to divine their motivation behind the question. If you're wondering why I'm making this statement, it's because I'm sharing my own failing in this regards; I have a tendency to be a bit judgmental if I feel that incorrect information is being transmitted, and sometimes it results in my own inexpert response instead of a measured, thoughtful reply. In those circumstances, other community members have stepped in and helped, much to my great appreciation.
But sometimes - not always, but sometimes - I'm spot on, like a laser beam cutting through the clutter and noise. It's those times that I try to remember and repeat. As XRP starts to see utility-driven demand with the roll-out of xRapid, remember my advice; the amount of resulting publicity will make the current noise in crypto seem like a quiet August night under the stars. Increase your communication precision, because you'll need it when 'it' happens.
General Crypto News
The warning issued by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) was direct about its position regarding trading of cryptocurrency within the Kingdom. A committee associated with SAMA, titled "The Standing Committee for Awareness on Dealing in Unauthorized Securities Activities in the Foreign Exchange Market," provided this blunt warning: 1
“The unauthorized virtual currencies are illegal inside the kingdom of Saudi Arabia”
While the statement doesn't go into detail about exceptions, the direction for current Saudi-based crypto exchanges such as Oasis, or whether individuals would still be allowed to own or purchase cryptocurrencies over-the-counter, my guess is that this communication is the first step in what will become a more fine-grained set of laws or guidelines in the coming weeks.
Thailand Approves Exchanges
Almost as a counterpoint to the news from Saudi Arabia, Thailand's SEC issued a formal statement approving seven digital asset exchanges and businesses to continue their operations. This list includes: 2
- Bitcoin Company Limited (BX) Website: bx.in.th
- The Company's online bit limited (BITKUB) Website: Bitkub.com
- Company Limited Cash Coyne (Cash2coin) Website: Cash2coins.com
- Group Company Limited (TDAX) Website: Tdax.com
- Coin Asset Co Ltd Website: coinasset.co.th
- Coins TH Co., Ltd. Website: Coins.co.th
- Digital Coil Company Limited (ThaiWM) Website: thaiwm.com
The first one in the list is BX Thailand, which supports XRP, among others. 3 The decision was good news for all cryptocurrencies listed on any of the mentioned exchanges, and it serves to keep the doors open for cryptocurrency ownership by Thai residents. The progressive statement also provided a defined pathway for new businesses to enter the Thai market, through a licensing mechanism. It directly attributed the closing part of the statement to Mr Rapee Sucharitakul, Thailand's Secretary General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC):
"You can apply for a license to the SEC and you will be able to do business with a license from the Minister of Finance."
The licensing model for crypto businesses is something that various countries are opting for in terms of providing some level of assurance for responsible exchange operation. It allows the government to set the minimum standards for an exchange, and provides a mechanism for communication and enforcement of policies and regulations. As a point of comparison, China has hinted at a license-based approach according to a recent Xinhau news editorial by Pan Ye. 4
Ripple published more details about their lineup for the SWELL conference, listing some additional speakers for the individual topics and presentations. Included are two 'flashtalks' - presentations or interviews lasting fifteen minutes - by Ed Metzger, Head of Innovation at Banco Santander, and Simon Gilson-Fox, representing American Express' Global Product Management. When I saw the term 'flashtalk' I immediately thought 'TED Talk,' but I'm just guessing as to the format that Ripple has in mind.
The second day includes a session titled "Crypto Regulation Around the World," which will include Ripple Board Member Ben Lawsky, and Richard Teng, the CEO of Abu Dhabi Global Markets. I predict that this session will be a hot topic with attendees, since banks, governments and regulators are all scrambling to act within conformance of the law and still meet their customers' new demand and appetite for cryptocurrency.
You can view the additional agenda details at the official SWELL conference website here: SWELL Agenda
It started with a CNBC story that covered, among other things, LianLian's use of Ripple technology for transferring cross-border payments. The article quoted Jeremy Light, Ripple's Vice President of European Union Strategic Accounts, as saying: 5
"China is definitely a country and region of interest."
Jeremy Light's statement comes one year after a significant announcement from Emi Yoshikawa, Ripple's Senior Director of Joint Venture Partnerships, that they were: 6
"looking for our first set of feet on the ground in China to launch and operational-ize our team ..."
Coinciding with the time frame of the CNBC article, one of the XRP Community - BankXRP (Twitter handle) - noticed that MercuryFX, one of the first xRapid pioneers to use XRP for settling cross-border payments, had officially published plans to enter the Chinese market:
"Mercury will be testing payments into China and Mexico with Ripple"
This is especially exciting for XRP holders, because MercuryFX is one of the first companies to trial xRapid, Ripple's liquidity sourcing product that utilizes XRP's liquidity in the global cryptocurrency exchanges to settle payments across currencies. This is XRP's primary intended use case, and MercuryFX was also one of the first companies to confirm the additional cost savings produced by using XRP to settle across borders:
Given that the previous tweet is from April, many XRP holders are connecting the dots; the wait for the technology and software solutions to catch up with XRP's use case may be nearing its end. Ultimately, it's not only about the innovation that a digital asset provides - it's also about a company's ability to understand and implement the technology, and then also integrate it with one or more exchanges where liquidity can easily be sourced for a specific corridor.
The Chinese market for xRapid will definitely be one to watch.
The largest use case for XRP - and in fact the one that it was specifically designed for - is that of serving as an efficient bridge asset when converting between one currency and another. While any company can utilize this function or implement it as they see fit, Ripple is the primary company implementing this function within one of their product offerings, known as xRapid.
Because of this, members of the XRP Community are diligently keeping watch for any significant business developments with Ripple's xRapid Solution. To date, numerous remittance processors have confirmed that using XRP reduces their costs beyond just replacing SWIFT messaging with Ripple's xCurrent product.
Perfecting xRapid's Customer Experience
While xRapid's functionality has been piloted by many early adopter and even major mainstream remittance processors such as MoneyGram, 7 Ripple did not regard the solution as ready for prime time, and labeled it as 'in beta' during interviews and presentations. 8 Asheesh Birla indicated that Ripple was focusing instead on patiently getting the 'customer experience' just right before formally launching the solution as an option for financial institutions, banks, and remittance processors. 9 10
This resistance to pressure in an effort to prioritize the customer experience reminded me of how - and why - the Apple iPhone managed to surprise the market with massive adoption numbers, even above Android phones and Blackberries that had previously been dominating the smartphone market. While some crypto traders may be impatient for Ripple to roll out their xRapid service, I was carefully analyzing industry developments.
Some 'banking island' applications have rushed to promote a quick solution for businesses and people to transfer money, but these solutions avoid the worldwide correspondence banking network instead of fixing it.
Ripple did not dodge the problem.
Instead, they've focused on their ILP solutions that are built on a solid and correct foundation of standards-based interoperability. In addition, the fact that they patiently focused on solving the complexities facing banks that wish to leverage xRapid for liquidity has shown just how incredible the future might be with their package of solutions. They don't force banks to use a product that they're not ready for, and they certainly don't push banks to use digital assets.
However, for the banks and other businesses that are ready to take the leap into the future, xRapid is poised to welcome them into increased cost savings.
xRapid Preferred Exchanges Announcement
On August 16th, Ripple formally announced 11 their intention to use three exchanges to handle the initial roll-out of xRapid. The list included Bittrex, a US exchange, Bitso, a Mexican exchange, and Coins.ph, a Philippine exchange. This choice of initial exchanges was explained through a tweet from Cory Johnson, Ripple's Chief Market Strategist:
In essence, Ripple is opting to focus on its core mission prior to taking on the larger issues of regulation clarification from China and India. I applaud their decision, and it's no surprise that they are pursuing a focused strategy and avoiding 'spreading the peanut butter too thinly.' This strategy is consistent with their laser focus on being the best at one thing; payments.
The evidence is mounting that Ripple is focusing its energy at streamlining the next generation of payment settlement using digital assets; some pundits in the financial industry and in banking may be skeptical of using no-counter-party, decentralized digital assets for cross-border settlement, but the fact is that it makes sense. XRP is on the leading edge of this innovative use case, and the international trend it represents is beginning to gain momentum.
It looks like 2018 will be xRapid's historic debut year.
AMA with David Schwartz
A news website known as "thenextweb" is hosting an "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) with David Schwartz, Ripple's Chief Technology Officer, on August 21st:
The AMA session is scheduled for 3 pm CST (Central Standard Time), or 1 pm PDT (Pacific Daylight Time) next Tuesday. While David Schwartz's most recent AMA13 on July 13th covered various fan-submitted topics about the future direction for his own career and his technical trajectory for Ripple, 12 this next session might expand to include some topics that may not have already been covered; no doubt many XRP fans will be tuning in to see his thoughts on xRapid.
No video from ChainXChange has been publicly released showing the presentations or panel discussions. The high-profile event heralded an impressive list of speakers: Cory Johnson, Ripple's Chief Market Strategist, was one of them, and sent the following intriguing tweet afterwards:
Paul Krugman, the man pictured with Cory Johnson, is a world-famous economist who won the Nobel prize in 2008 for his contributions to trade theory and economic geography. Cory is a master communicator, and it will be intriguing to see him alongside Paul Krugman when ChainXChange sees fit to publicly release video content of the event.
WietseWind recently sent out a tweet indicating that he published a tool for those that wish to extract XRP Ledger data into a Mongo database:
Why would you wish to do this? Once extracted into either a relational database or a document-oriented database like Mongo, ledger data can be queried with much greater efficiency using standard query language statements. This allows for the cross-sectioning of data to support analysis for whatever reason; business intelligence, individual curiosity, to answer community questions, or to support academic research.
The motivations behind its use will vary by user; but when the ledger's transactions are available in an easy-to-access database, it can democratize access to the information in a much more efficient way than solely through an API.
WietseWind indicated that he has plans in the works for making the data accessible to the public beyond the Mongo Database. I don't want to spoil anything, but this development could be very exciting for all users of XRP that wish to write their own SQL statements and learn more about ledger statistics without having to go through the trouble of processing the entire database yourself as WietseWind did. He indicated this much: It will be a hosted approach whereby you don't need to download anything to your local computer - if he's successful, any member of the public would be able to just 'send a query' and see the response!
If you're interested in doing your own data analysis of the XRP Ledger, you may want to give WietseWind a 'follow' on Twitter to keep up to date on the latest information.
Hardware wallets are growing in popularity. Scoring consistently at the top of wallet polls of XRP investors, the Ledger Nano is a well-known example. When it comes to security, a common customer preference is to store access to cryptocurrency on a USB-like dongle along with other security and backup options. For XRP, more choices are good, and now it looks like another hardware wallet maker is in the process of adding support: Secalot.
Secalot currently supports Bitcoin and Ethereum on its proprietary dongle, and is now working with a well-known XRP community developer named RareData to implement secure support for XRP into their device. In contact with me directly, Secalot had this to say:
"We are adding Ripple support to Secalot. An XRP account would be securely stored inside the hardware device, enabling to sign transactions without having to worry about your account being stolen."
The official release date for XRP support is still 'to be determined,' so if you're interested in this addition to the XRP wallet list of choices, stay tuned to Secalot's social media accounts on Twitter or Facebook. Personally, I'm thrilled to have another choice in the hardware wallet market for XRP fans.
NOTE: I do not endorse any specific XRP wallet. Use at your own risk.
The Exodus wallet is a popular cryptocurrency desktop wallet that supports a variety of cryptocurrencies, and its development team just recently added support for XRP. 14 Smillagoñi, Exodus Wallet's Community Success Engineer, had this to say: 15
" During the months we’ve spent perfecting the (XRP) wallet, many of you wrote in expressing your enthusiasm for XRP and asking us for a timeline for when we would add it to Exodus. Your emails, Slack messages, and tweets pushed us to deliver this functionality to you and we thank you for keeping us motivated."
The company has an impressive approach that emphasizes the smooth design and user experience of wallet users. On their main website, the company states that: 16
"Exodus wraps solid engineering inside beautiful design. We poured our hearts into every detail, from pixel-perfect icons to subtle sounds, making a blockchain asset experience that "just works for normal people". Our goal: Remove the geek requirement to use cryptocurrency and make design a priority - we think it shows."
The application not only handles custody (wallet) aspects of functionality, but also supports trading; and it has a wide variety of options for users to choose from - ninety-four are displayed on their home page. The site also implies that users will have their own individual wallet, separate from the exchange, which is a departure from other exchange wallets that use a tag system to separate out users' XRP from the wider exchange's XRP holdings: 17
"there is no need to use a destination tag, your receiving address is enough..."
Since Exodus is a popular desktop cryptocurrency wallet, it's great to see them add XRP support for those that wish to utilize their services. Because it's an exchange in addition to a wallet, this service counts as both, and potentially adds greater liquidity to the XRP ecosystem in addition to providing another custody option for crypto investors.
NOTE: I do not endorse any specific XRP wallet. Use at your own risk.
XRP Media Community Calendar
One of the XRP community sites created and released recently is called "XRP Media." In a recent blog , I profiled the new site, and indicated that it was aiming to be more than an XRP-specific news aggregator; it was created to provide data and metrics about the XRP Ledger, links to YouTubers, an interactive Twitter wall, and filtered headlines from the cryptoverse.
And now that site has teamed up with another community member known as XRP Research Center, to publish an XRP Community Calendar that focuses on events, conferences, and other items:
It's meant to be more than a static listing; if you see something that should be added to the calendar, contact XRP Research Center. I'm a fan of XRP Research Center's ability to consistently discover news items and then update the community; it's great to see his calendar content find a home on one of the XRP Community's newest multi-media sites.
Add Precision to your List of Strengths
There is no shortage of progress for XRP. In some cases it's almost like the sheer amount of news has a blunting effect on some in the crypto market. It's gotten to the point where, if there's not a high-profile announcement by a major stakeholder or business in the XRP market every other day, some crypto fans tilt their heads and ask "what gives?"
This increased level of expectations for XRP sometimes incongruously results in a crypto investor comparing XRP to other cryptocurrencies that have obvious design or architectural limitations that stunt their potential. (I won't name them here). We hear some of these questions repeated ad nauseam at times on Twitter and other social media platforms. It seems that some posters learn by trolling, much to the frustration of others.
When tempted to expound on the overwhelming advantages of XRP in terms of organizations championing adoption, the caliber of developers in the XRP community, or the enormous growth rate of worldwide exchanges that support XRP, it's wise to instead consider the specifics of each interaction. Who is the audience? Are you really attempting to persuade a close-minded Bitcoin investor that refuses to have a rational discussion? Instead of giving way to the rising tide of adrenaline and frustration that may be overtaking your demeanor, take a break and give your response some thought. If you want inspiration, you need look no further than the tweet history of joelkatz, the quarterly reports of Miguel Vias, or the interviews and panel discussions by Cory Johnson. These are communications professionals of the highest caliber, and they know that high-precision facts are their greatest ally, their unfailing Vibranium shield, and their most potent strategic weapon.
In a market underpinned by cryptographic algorithms and unforgiving reliance on code, precise communication by its adherents is the way to elevate XRP to its proper standing.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Drew Graham