It was enough to fool some of us.
Like the eye of a hurricane, the weeks in October provided little surprise for XRP holders - and other crypto investors - as prices seemed to not only reduce in their volatility, but traverse sideways in a tightening wedge of buoyancy.
However, when the eye passed for XRP holders, and the winds picked up again, the tumultuous waves started to crash and lift us, throwing us into the air and then letting us fall again, but this time, the feeling was different than others in 2018. It seemed that the seas of crypto trading were rough again, and lifted the waters ever higher in a tide that promised to sweep increasing numbers of participants into its waves.
During the rally over the last few days, and its subsequent retracement to 'higher lows,' XRP de-coupled from Bitcoin's volume influence and tracked upwards on its own significantly, exemplifying what many of us - me included - have been predicting. XRP will distinguish itself not based on the whims of speculative-fueled trading, but by its real utility in lowering payment costs for banks, remittance processors, and large corporates.
This means a de-coupling from the price behavior of other participants in the crypto market as XRP begins on its upward trek through the rankings.
While the market may sometimes seem calm, rest assured that its active participants - exchanges, businesses, banks, investment houses, funds, traders, developers, and community members - are not. There is a restless urgency being felt throughout the market ... its participants are sensing it, perhaps not so much with their analog senses, but with their intuition.
The next wave of crypto adoption won't stop suddenly after a temporary uptick in public fascination like we saw at the end of 2017. Instead, it will be something different and more profound; something far longer-lasting as people throughout the world finally awaken to what crypto-assets represent, and the financial empowerment they provide.
In March of 2018, Ryan Zagone wrote a blog on how countries should approach regulation.
It was a short and concise treatment of the topic of regulation, advocating a balanced approach whereby consumers are protected, and yet also where innovation is not stifled by onerous barriers or compliance requirements. This initial blog on the topic of regulation provided Ripple's core 'three-pronged approach' which I wrote about when it was first published:
- Recognize that Bans or “One Size Fits All” Approaches Can Stifle Innovation
- Virtual Currency Use Case: Address Risk Through a Licensing Framework
- Liquidity Tool Use Case: Provide Guidance for Banks to Leverage Digital Assets
Ripple then authored more content on the topic, published on its Insights page. The first one was a deep-dive into how Japan approached regulation and how it has helped that country step forward as a market leader in both trading and use.
The latest installment in Ripple's three-part series on regulation was a blog written by Sagar Sarbhai, titled "The Case for Digital Asset Regulation Part 2: Two Regulatory Approaches Driving Innovation in Thailand and Abu Dhabi." It was published on November 5th, and focused on two countries, Thailand and Abu Dhabi, and contrasted the circumstances and outcomes for each. 1
The article was informative, and highlighted both the differing motivations and the depth of guidance for crypto-asset regulation. It ended with a call for action, noting that:
"Digital assets are global by nature, and we need more global coordination for managing this transformative financial technology."
Sagar Sarbhai indicated that the third and final installment in Ripple's 2018 regulation series of blogs will address:
"... why the world should not wait until the digital asset market is large enough to impact financial stability before introducing regulation and better understand why a much-need global agreement around digital asset regulation is possible."
I'm intrigued by this last bit, because Ripple is telegraphing its next move with regard to international regulation; a globally-scoped agreement of some sort.
Blockchain Startups Summit 2018
The Blockchain Startups Summit 2018 is a conference sponsored by the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center, which is described as: 2
"... a think tank and research center which investigates the implications of blockchain technology for companies and their business models."
The goal of the summit is to create a forum where entrepreneurs, existing companies, and potential investors can congregate and network. It focuses on a contest that includes a "prize" for the best pitch, or sales presentation, by a new company.
Marjan Delatinne, Ripple's Global Head of Banking, will be there; the summit takes place on November 15th at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management.
Techonomy 2018 takes place between November 11-13 at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California, a picturesque beach community facing the Pacific Ocean just south of San Francisco. 3 Techonomy, although founded in 2011, predates the rising popularity of cryptocurrency investing, and created its own company manifesto, which states: 4 5
"We believe business will take the lead in driving social progress, but our community also includes leaders from the social sector, government, politics, academia, and the sciences. A multidisciplinary dialogue is core to every forum Techonomy convenes. We especially aim to foster conversation between leaders from the tech industry and companies that have not, at least until now, considered themselves tech companies. (We argue that every company is a tech company, whether they know it or not.)
Techonomy aims its programs and content at leaders, but we also believe that the definition of a leader is changing quickly. Thanks again in large part to technology, power is being broadly dispersed in society. Leaders are emerging at every level of society more rapidly and fluidly than ever before. Social and business structures are flattening as the very notion of leadership is evolving to recognize that the most effective leadership is collaborative and in some ways collective."
I couldn't agree more with that last sentence in their purpose statement.
Cory Johnson, Ripple's Chief Market Strategist, is going to represent the company at the conference, and Techonomy published a short Q&A with him in late August, in advance of the conference, which I found especially interesting. I won't repeat the entire content of the article here, but I'll tell you one of the questions and how Cory Johnson answered: 6
Question (Techonomy): "What is the biggest issue that you worry is not getting enough attention?"
Answer (Cory Johnson): "Global power consumption in the mining of Bitcoin, Ether and others is staggering. Bitcoin’s annual carbon footprint is greater than 61,000 transatlantic flights. And that’s only going to get worse."
This answer is fascinating, and for most people that are new to crypto, shocking. The mainstream press is not reporting - for one reason or another - on the inherent and fatal flaws that these proof-of-work crytpographic networks contain. It's far past time for the entire crypto-asset space to put proof-of-work tech where it belongs - in a museum - where these networks can't further damage the environment.
SendFriend is a relatively new money transmitter. Its mobile application allows customers to send money from New Jersey to the Philippines; the corporate website boasts that the service will transfer money in minutes with full transparency of fees. 7 Does this sound familiar? It should. American Banker broke the story that SendFriend is using Ripple's xRapid solution in the background to transfer money, allowing the company to access extremely low fees.
This is an important and noteworthy development, because just recently, Ripple announced that Coins.ph, a Philippine-based crypto exchange, would be a participant in its xRapid solution. It was obvious that Ripple was targeting the high-volume remittance corridor for the Philippines. 8
SendFriend is currently only supporting transfers from New Jersey, and you may think that's strange, but keep in mind that money transmitters have to register state-by-state, and SendFriend is choosing to build their network from the ground up, evidently, basing its technology architecture on xRapid.
David Anderson, SendFriend's Chief Revenue Officer, was quoted by American Banker about the xRapid implementation:
“That allows us on the back end to be more efficient with our capital. These are real-time settlements so we don't have to do pre-funding, we don't have to park money in the receiving corridor and then manage the foreign exchange risk. We can just do it one by one as the transactions go through.”
He is referring to the ability to dynamically process transactions using XRP as a bridge asset. This makes sense from a competitive standpoint, as it allows them to start their company without any existing legacy platform slowing their efforts at integration. I predict that they will quickly scale if they can complete their money transmitter registration in New York, California, and other high-volume states here in the US.
The developers at Coil possess commit rights to the Interledger Protocol (ILP) code.
This means that their team will be primarily responsible for handling the code governance for this payments standard, although anybody can contribute to the code base on Github. Because of this, Coil is also actively handling the communication of changes in the ILP network software, and any ancillary information that ILP stakeholders need to be aware of as they continue to update the code base.
The latest significant news item for ILP didn't come from Coil, however; it came from a company funded by them: Kava Labs.
On November 5th, Kava Labs published a blog that provided a development update on one of its projects; it described a back-end API for exchanging assets using Interledger.
This is an outstanding contribution to the XRP ecosystem, and specifically ILP; Kava also participated in ILP-related community development meetings and noted in their blog that their work with ILP was being funded by an "ongoing grant- funded process led by Adrian Hope-Bailie." 9 This was great to see; Coil is engaging with other leaders in taking the next steps to move ILP forward as a payments standard among different ledgers.
Some XRP fans post their hobby projects for XRP integrations and applications with no expectation of mass adoption or marketing, but just to share what they've created.
It was in this vein that a recent tweet seemed to capture people's attention on November 7th:
Nixer (Twitter handle) integrated the XRP Tip Bot into his Amazon Alexa, and somehow configured it to accept verbal commands to send an XRP tip to a specific person on Twitter!
It may be an anomaly, or it may be an example of the Internet of Value's future possibilities. The convenience of using voice-activated commands to interface with the Internet is still an idea that many are grappling with, but applications like this provide a motivation for some to take the leap.
Congratulations to Nixer on his successful integration - and the interest it seemed to spark in the XRP Community.
Ellipal is a hardware wallet provider based in Hong Kong. In August of this year, they released their first wallet. Subsequently on September 3rd, I covered their plans to support XRP in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Since then, they've made good on their promise, and have developed the necessary functions to allow customers to store XRP on their hardware wallet:
The support in this version of their wallet includes the ability to send and receive XRP payments.
Their device is described by their site as a "mobile cold wallet," and the interface looks smooth. It also purportedly contains a feature to allow exchanging and trading of cryptocurrencies, so its function is not solely restricted to storage. 10
It's great to have another hardware wallet option for XRP owners, and there are more to come; my goal is to perform an inventory of the hardware wallets on the market that currently offer XRP support, as well as the ones that have XRP support in their development pipeline.
NOTE: I don't personally endorse any specific wallet - please do your own due diligence.
XRP The Base
Coinfield has timed its announcements about XRP on the heels of two significant rallies for the digital asset - the first one in late September and now their announcement during a surge in early November.
I covered their late-September announcement that the team was planning on making XRP their base currency for the exchange, by pairing it against a variety of other crypto-assets along with six national fiat currencies. 11
On October 31st, Coinfield announced that they were opening their new platform, and quickly followed it up with a promotion whereby referrers to their site receive 10 XRP, along with what they're terming "25% on all commissions." It sounds like they are using XRP not only to move money into and out of their exchange ultra-fast, but also using it as an incentive to build a material-sized user base of traders.
In a follow-up poll on Twitter, the company conducted a quick survey to determine which new endeavor their team should focus on, now that the exchange is live. Here is a peek at the results after approximately 2,500 replies (of course you know how I voted now!):
Thus far, their team has followed through on their plans to center the exchange around XRP as a base currency; this decision makes sense for traders looking to quickly move value into and out of their exchange, and will prove to be a wise move long-term for the new platform. It will be interesting to see if it can challenge the dominance of the one or two other Canadian XRP exchanges, such as Coinsquare, that seem to receive the lion's share of trading at present.
Trade Digital Exchange
The list of exchanges supporting fiat XRP pairings was added to by Leonidas (Twitter avatar) on November 7th:
For those XRP fans that may have some family or friends in Mongolia, this is a terrific option for them to invest in crypto - and specifically XRP - from their home location. And for RippleNet, it adds one more possible xRapid integration for an exotic foreign currency in upper Asia.
The addition of the Mongolian Tughrik to the list of supported fiat currencies is a great development, and is further evidence of the growing global liquidity available for XRP.
The number of new applications and fan sites that have been springing up, created by XRP Community developers, is happening at a fast clip. One of the more recent additions is a site called "Wipple."
Wipple was introduced by its creator, devnullprod (XRP Chat avatar), on November 6th.
The site is geared more for XRP fans that already have a fair amount of experience and knowledge around XRP, as it shows raw JSON transactions and unfiltered responses from the server. The developer did include some graphical displays of account activity using charts that I haven't seen elsewere, however, and it will be interesting to see if a significant number of XRP fans use it to look at visual depictions of account activity.
It's an interesting tool that offers a new way to look at accounts and transactions, and provides an additional perspective to some of the other frequently-used online interfaces such as Bithomp and LedgerExposed.
The source code that the Wipple site links to can be found here: Wipple code base on Github
Calm Waters, or the Eye of the Hurricane?
Don't be fooled into thinking that the crypto space is calm - or not - because of temporary price activity. While day traders may be in a waiting state, the other participants in the market are certainly not; in the case of XRP, we've seen exchanges adding support, seeking to cater to the over-one-million XRP owners worldwide that want to securely purchase and trade in this crypto-asset. Hardware and software wallet companies are competing for our business.
And Ripple's Xpring initiative is having a tangible effect in building out applications that may supercharge global liquidity in advance of banking adoption of digital assets, by donating money and zerps to those businesses that use or promote XRP in some fashion.
One of the most promising companies venturing into this space is Coil; a small team that is working diligently in the background to move its product to the next stage. And Internet content creators are not waiting, moving to ensure that their sites are Coil-enabled prior to the company rolling out its active membership to the general public.
Apart from Coil, the number of community developers that are 'building on XRP' continues to grow, and as the existing open-source projects are established for different uses, future development can build off of their success. Such is the case of some notable community leaders such as WietseWind and RareData, who have published their code open-source as an example for others.
There is a storm coming for all of crypto, and the temporary October doldrums are now a memory as, once again, XRP cuts the tall waves in front of it like we have an expert captain at the helm. As the market braces for the next whitecap, you need to decide now which crypto-asset is best-equipped to navigate through the chaos successfully.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Brian Cook