Everybody wants to know the nature of the next wave of crypto-asset adoption, and there is no end to speculation on trading forums and groups about the topic: what do the patterns indicate? When is the cryptomarket going to explode with the compressed energy that is lurking off-stage?
It's a question not easily answered by one person - or by looking at a two-dimensional chart.
There are multiple factors we have to examine, not the least of which is the historical market patterns within crypto and much larger, mainstream markets.
The longest crypto bear market to date was the bear market from 2013 to 2014, which some analysts claim to have lasted 58 weeks in total. 1 Note that our current bear market has just completed its 51st week. However, other analysts remind us that the cryptomarket, unlike other established markets, cannot be judged the same way; previous cycles were affected by dramatically different:
- Market participants
- Levels of capital
- Demand characteristics
The market participants have changed. No longer is cryptocurrency primarily composed of crypto-anarchists, early-adopter college kids, or even the criminal underground. Crypto-assets are being bought and sold primarily by those looking to profit in its speculative value. This includes ordinary people that are used to investing in promising technology and companies that they've come to adore, like Tesla, Google, Apple, and Amazon.
So we know that the bear market has affected a different group.
This realization has led one analyst to posit that the current bear market has lasted this long because of what he terms a 'perception' problem. A perception problem is an additional setback that results from traditional or conservative investors viewing an entire industry as inherently high-risk due to previous setbacks. 2
I don't agree completely, however, as the time to buy is typically not when an investment is popular, but when the purchase is looked upon as a unique opportunity that demonstrates insight. Some individuals - and many investment firms - will look at investing at current price levels as a chance to gain market reputation when their analysis pays off down the road.
From my standpoint, the current moment in crypto is like the later stages of 2008 when home prices dipped to an all-time low. I'm old enough to remember some businesses and individuals swooping in to snap up the over-construction at their low prices, knowing full well that the pendulum had swung too far in the opposite direction. Those that were able to muster the financial courage to do that were able to capitalize on the market's negative over-reaction.
Crypto has gone through a high-profile setback in 2018, and the size of that loss, regardless of how small it is compared to other mainstream market contractions, has been fodder for many 'I told you so' type of posts by pundits and self-ascribed experts.
But is crypto the same as it was a year ago?
No. The entire cryptomarket has unequivocally 'gotten the message' and has gone through what I'd characterize as a self-imposed exile of enthusiasm while it cleaned house. And that house-cleaning involved the dissolution of an entire industry - the ICO market.
Don't get me wrong, there will always be ICOs, and like their underlying, distributed technology, they cannot be stopped; but their heyday of mainstream investment and hobbyist investor enthusiasm has now evaporated to such an extent that multiple industry icons and analysts have declared the ICO market 'dead.' 3 And no wonder - such a high proportion of these 'initial coin offerings' failed to result in the underlying token's increase in value, that it's remarkable if anybody made a profit on one. Perhaps I'll be proved wrong, but I subscribe to the idea that for any future ICOs to gain material levels of investment, they'll need to clearly indicate how token holders will be rewarded, while at the same time complying with the newly-clarified guidance from court cases about what constitutes a security.
So what's the biggest difference in the new cryptomarket; what's the one thing that may propel crypto-assets far beyond their historic, but small-relative-to-mainstream market capitalization?
You know where I'm going. XRP is the one cryptocurrency that has shown itself to reliably scale to 50,000 transactions per second during initial tests of its Payment Channels capability. 4 Note that this number has been argued as an arbitrary measurement that could be increased to 'millions' or even greater if ILP & streaming technology is used. 5
xRapid, Ripple's technology for using XRP for cross-border liquidity and settlement, has the potential to access a use case measured in the trillions; and the CEO of Ripple indicated that two remittance processors and one massive, remittance-processing credit union would be the first customers to use xRapid in production. Ripple also identified the three exchanges that would be its xRapid partner markets. This is real progress that may result in fantastic levels of utility-driven demand.
Companies other than Ripple are also championing XRP's use in additional business applications.
Coil is looking to use XRP for micropayments and web monetization, and has also configured Codius hosts to be remunerated using XRP 'out of the box' as a default funding mechanism. This represents two massive potential use cases that, so far, financial organizations have yet to understand or comprehend: The potential behind micropayment applications, and the potential for smart contracts to create derivatives for areas that may not have been profitable using currently-available technology or techniques.
There are other companies and individuals that have been building on XRP as well, but you get my point: The cryptomarket has cleaned house, and is now salivating for cryptocurrencies and technology that will bring it into the fold of everyday use.
And we've seen what that means for XRP, even during the latest market downturn; XRP has steadily gained market share even as the entire industry's market capitalization has shrunk to its lowest level this year. It indicates something very profound about how the market has matured, and about where it's going.
The final AMA of 2018 with Brad Garlinghouse was announced by Ripple on December 12th:
The previous 'Ask Me Anything' with Brad Garlinghouse was in late August and was facilitated by Cory Johnson:
The content of the original one was not just a raw 'question and answer' type of presentation, and provided an opportunity for Brad Garlinghouse to field some questions directly by Cory Johnson on the general state of Ripple's business, environment, and position in the larger banking and remittance industry.
The AMA in August highlighted some adoption obstacles, including regulatory uncertainty.
Almost five months later, some legal precedents have been set, along with more progress in regulatory direction by some countries that also happen to contain banks that have been listed as key members of RippleNet. The questions submitted so far on the Ripple tweet that was created to document fan questions have spanned a wide variety of topics, some reflecting contemporary news items; but the main area of interest is xRapid adoption.
The AMA with Brad Garlinghouse at the end of August was a key event in the XRP ecosystem, and I anticipate that the one next Tuesday will also be an important communication for XRP fans; I will definitely be putting this one on my calendar.
Coinone and Cross
One of the largest remittance corridors is between South Korea and Thailand. One reason for this is that over 100,000 Thai immigrants live in South Korea. 6
Coinone is a major crypto exchange based in South Korea, and it was one of the first South Korean exchanges to list XRP in 2017. On May 8th of this year, Ripple announced that they'd begun work with Coinone to help build a new remittance service called 'Cross.' The specific subsidiary of Coinone assigned this task was named "Coinone Transfer.' 7
Back when the building of this new service was announced, it exemplified how Ripple was taking the lead in serving some of the corridors where traditional correspondence banking was failing, including those money flows were high-volume remittance payments from immigrants were involved.
Now, seven months later, we see the result of this joint effort with Coinone:
Cross is a service that can be used to transmit money to the Philippines or to Thailand. Both countries represent large remittance processing corridors. 8
The service utilizes xCurrent to execute the bank transfers, which is what most RippleNet bank members currently use for transferring cross-border payments; however, some are piloting xRapid as well, and will be aiming to lower their costs to their lowest possible level through the use of XRP as a dynamic bridge asset.
The Cross service promises to bring substantial payment volume to RippleNet, and enlarges the potential international reach and liquidity for xRapid if and when this option is activated by Coinone Transfer.
Currencies Direct is a large remittance processor based in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1996, and now transfers roughly $8 billion dollars' worth of annual money transfers. 9 It's a large company, and has approximately 30 offices around the world.
The big news with Currencies Direct is two-fold:
- They have successfully piloted xRapid 10
- They have just released a new xCurrent version of their service 11
When they piloted xRapid, they confirmed xRapid's additional cost savings, and considered the trial a success, saying:
“our trial with XRP was a resounding success. We’re currently assessing our next steps, but the evidence we’ve gathered indicates that the use of XRP is a game changer, making payments near-immediate and significantly improving service to our customers.”
“Our goal is to offer the best possible service. We believe that utilizing cryptocurrencies in this way - as a transfer of value, rather than as a store of value - is the next logical step for our industry. It is, after all, the intended purpose of cryptocurrencies and we’re proud to be leveraging new technology to deliver the most convenient and seamless experience for our customers.”
This was in May of this year, and the company recently released an xCurrent version of their product, but didn't indicate when the use of xRapid might be considered, or whether it was already being used. For those that may wonder about it, keep in mind that the current regulatory climate of one of Currency Direct's biggest countries - India - contains many unknowns.
This is a great example, in my opinion, of how regulatory clarity could dramatically help one company make the switch to using digital assets for money transfer, although my thinking could be based on a false assumption: Another possibility is that Currencies Direct has a step-wise plan for xRapid implementation and xCurrent is the logical first stage.
My guess is that it could be a combination of the two as well; it's often that financially conservative organizations will opt to 'play it safe' until they are forced to make a dramatic change. My guess is that some start-ups will be eager to try xRapid for dramatically beating competitors' costs, whereas some others may choose to get ready to play a 'fast follower' role, as it's been termed.
Whatever the case, and whatever its possibility for 'switching on' xRapid later, it's great to have a major remittance processor like Currencies Direct in the 'potential' XRP ecosystem of companies and banks.
ARAB FinTex Symposium
The Arab FinTex Symposium is a conference that took place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, from December 12th through the 13th. The focus of the conference was blockchain technology and financial inclusion.
Their own website provides an overview of the purpose of the organization and its conference: 12
"Blockchain is a matter of heated debate and it is about time to outline its ramifications for innovations in financial inclusion from a development policy perspective. What is in it for payment systems in the Arab World?
... This milestone event will nurture knowledge exchange at the nexus of technology and economic development among policymakers and regulators, scholars, and practitioners active at the frontier of finance and technology in the region and beyond ...
... A key outcome will be about identifying conducive policy and regulatory approaches to financial technology that hold promise – or have proven successful – for transformative change in the Arab economies. Join the discussion!"
It's a great example of how countries even in the Middle East are vigorously pursuing regulatory certainty ahead of the widespread use of digital assets.
On December 11th, Dilip Rao, Ripple's Head of Infrastructure Innovation, sent out the following tweet:
It's great to know that the opportunity to provide input on matters of regulatory policy is being actively pursued by Ripple, in the form of Dilip Rao's presence at the conference; he has a tendency to be able to intuitively grasp the true nature of any topic, and specifically any topics pertaining to the use of digital assets by banks and financial institutions.
Hopefully we'll see some video emerge on YouTube from the conference, and be able to benefit from hearing these insights directly.
SBI Virtual Currencies
SBI is an exciting part of the XRP ecosystem, but it's also been a source of impatience on the part of some XRP fans of late, due to their decision to delay the launch of real-time trading of cryptocurrency. The Japanese financial giant decided to do a slower roll-out of its cryptocurrency trading platform, and provided the update in mid-summer.
This decision was speculated to be a result of SBI's acknowledgment of the contemporary developments of increased regulatory concern in Japan caused by a high-profile Coincheck NEM hack in February of this year. 16 Regardless of speculation about the cause, it resulted in disappointment, as SBI Virtual Currencies was expected to also play a role in the xRapid roll-out, which instead pivoted to three other exchanges for its debut.
On December 12th, SBI announced that SBI VC would also be supporting Ethereum in addition to XRP:
I have yet to confirm definitively if this continues to be OTC matching; our various XRP Community contacts in Japan are still in the process of determining the low-level details about the announced change.
For XRP owners, its critical to track these details with SBI, as they will undoubtedly have a major impact on XRP volume once the platform is fully live.
Internet History Podcast of David Schwartz Interview
The Internet History Podcast is a popular podcast site that hosts presentations about almost any topic regarding the Internet and, generally, the fascinating history behind technological innovations associated with the web.
On December 9th, Brian McCullough, an entrepreneur and Internet journalist, published an interview with David Schwartz:
The interview contained some background about David Schwartz that I was fascinated to read about.
Here's a small number of spoilers:
- David Schwartz first programmed on a calculator, not a computer
- His first computer was an Apple 2E
- He worked on developing medical devices
- He worked for the NSA
David Schwartz indicated that one of the last major puzzles to fulfilling the promise of cryptography (generally) and the Internet, is to make it as simple to move money as it is to move data.
This was a major point with him, and I get the feeling he was very motivated to emphasize this as the final piece of the puzzle to Internet commerce.
He thinks that the use of blockchain technology to eliminate the need for trusted counter-parties is one of the revolutionary innovations that will drive future financial products and services. I also got the feeling that he might have been intimating something about the underlying technology for the Internet itself, although that's not the direction that Brian McCullough went with his subsequent questions.
Here's two of my favorite quotes from the interview:
"... if we could create a distributed agreement protocol - what we now call 'consensus.' Without using proof-of-work; without using mining ...
... We discovered ... that not only would it work, but that it would have some significant advantages over proof-of-work, including being cheaper and faster. And so, we put together the idea for the XRP Ledger, with Arthur Britto, in early 2012."
and on the historic cryptomarket tribalism that has pervaded crypto:
"If the cryptomarkets are sending us any signal, it's that we're all in this together, and we need to work together to grow."
The other parts of the interview allowed David Schwartz to dive into the specific characteristics about XRP and its suitability for cross-border payments, and about the overall business model involved in Ripple's growth and evolution over time.
The Forbes overview of his biographical story and how it intersected with Ripple was an awesome written rendition of some of the same topics, but this latest interview felt much more un-filtered and 'real' to me, probably because it was a direct recording of Q&A rather than a post-edited version of the topics and commentary. I highly recommend it for those investigating XRP, or for those that wish to share an entertaining and educational reference with a friend or family member.
The XRP Community API unveiled its updated site on Wednesday, December 12th.
It contained real-time APIs to 27 different exchanges, allowing any interested party to find out the latest prices denominated against the various trading pairs listed for each exchange.
In addition, the creator of the XRP Community API has committed to working with other developers if they'd like to use his APIs as a meta-layer to access the real-time data that he captures. It's a great opportunity for others to build applications that contains dynamic information that pulls order data from the various exchanges where XRP is traded.
For more information, or to contact him directly, potential developers can reference his API information or his contact information on the site:
For casual browsers, the site provides incredible options for viewing the data, including the ability to select various charts that cross-section the bid and offer data over time, as well as the historical exchange prices. Users can select a currency pairing, an exchange, and then select the time interval to observe any patterns. It's a great tool to have for casual researchers, and it enhances the ability for 'data fans' to dive in and satisfy their curiosity.
Coss is one of many ICO-funded exchanges that were built recently, and they just announced the latest version of their cryptocurrency trading platform via Twitter, indicating from their trade pair listings that not only would they be supporting XRP, but that XRP would be considered one of their base pairings. They've matched XRP against twelve of their other supported currencies, including: 17
The trading platform just recently added this support with the new version of their exchange, and have yet to make a formal announcement or a promotion to generate new customers.
The space among ICO-funded exchanges is growing, and it brings excitement and competition - as well as new end-points for liquidity - to a landscape that has quadrupled in the last year. The rise of crypto-assets has just begun, and these exchanges stand to gain the most; ICO-funded exchanges like Coss also provide a mechanism for their token holders to profit along with the platform.
It's one more way that cryptocurrency has provided an innovative way for ordinary people to participate in the industry's growth over time, although the field of exchange participants will probably go through a period of consolidation at some point.
CoinCola is an exchange and an over-the-counter matching platform based in Hong Kong. On December 7th, they announced support for XRP on their OTC-matching platform, along with a promotion for new customers:
The exchange thus far doesn't seem to have a lot of volume, which is what we'd expect for a brand new platform out-of-the-gate; however, there are some XRP traders that may be interested in an OTC platform that could support easy entry into the XRP market using large, bulk lot sizes.
The OTC market is a difficult one to measure in cryptocurrency, but if new exchanges like CoinCola are looking to enter it, there must be some material level of volume that is anticipated; in addition, there are fewer exchanges that support OTC matching than those than support real-time order book matching.
For XRP fans, we can now add the CoinCola OTC exchange to our long, growing list of liquidity end-points.
TD Ameritrade is a number of things, but they are most well-known for their online stock trading platform, where millions of customers buy and sell stocks, bonds, and derivatives. Note that their customer rolls are comparable to SBI's: as of 2017 they boasted 11 million accounts which translated to over one trillion dollars in assets.
TD Ameritrade also sponsors its own news reporting service and public relations, and they have an active presence on Twitter and other popular social media sites. On December 11th, they tweeted the following response to an XRP fan named @Jerryvhall1 (Twitter avatar):
It was an exciting communication, to be sure, because of TD Ameritrade's size, and also because it comes just a couple months after a deal was announced between TD Ameritrade and the ErisX Crypto Exchange. 18
Perhaps TD Ameritrade is smart enough to know the gargantuan - and growing - size of the XRP Community on social media.
Many new ICO-funded crypto exchanges are competing with each other to attract those traders that are interested in XRP; but it's rare that a mainstream exchange like TD Ameritrade is actively pursing integration with crypto trading.
If TD Ameritrade chooses to actively support XRP trading at its outset with the ErisX Crypto Exchange, I predict that it may have a substantially-positive effect on XRP liquidity; would it involve actual purchases of cryptocurrency, or would it involve a derivative product? Of course, these are the follow-up questions that we would like answered before supporting even a mainstream exchange listing XRP.
My opinion is this: If mainstream exchanges want to participate in the cryptocurrency markets, they should participate directly by maintaining custody of the underlying asset, and contributing to the demand for the overall market. I would like to see more direct trading, and less marketing of financial derivative products.
No matter your opinion on the topic, the addition of TD Ameritrade to the overall cryptomarket is fantastic news - both for publicity of cryptocurrency, and its consideration as a legitimate type of asset used for international commerce and finance.
Google Trends "Year in Search 2018"
The credit for this find goes solidly to CrytpoEri, a popular crypto-asset YouTuber that focuses primarily on XRP's ecosystem.
Each year, Google Trends publishes a summary of the most popular searches that were entered into its algorithm. The resulting list can be accessed here:
The listing starts at a global level; and if you choose to zero in on the United States, you'll find the searches that were the most popular here in my native country.
The results are categorized, and one of the most popular categories is the 'how to' category. For the United States, here is the list of the most popular Google 'how to' searches of 2018:
Note that the top two spots in this list are closely related to the topic of voting, so as far as I'm concerned, how to 'buy Ripple' was really the third spot.
The only reservation about my excitement has to do with the fact that the name of the cryptocurrency is "XRP," not "Ripple," and it's a battle that we in the XRP Community have been fighting for a while now. My hope is that their search results take them to sites where the distinction is clearly made, not further confused.
The fact that XRP 'made the list' here in the US shows that the XRP Community is winning; on social media, on name recognition (with that caveat), and on adoption. For a while now, I've been noticing the massive growth of the XRP Community with mainstream investors. They are more curious about XRP than than about the older, energy-wasteful proof-of-work coins.
It seems that the public is opting to, as predicted, gravitate towards the cryptocurrency with the greatest chances of worldwide adoption in business and finance, and is smart enough to consciously avoid the crypto-currencies that cannot scale or support real business - a.k.a. the 'science experiment' networks.
It's a refreshing change for the crypto-market, and it shows that the one cryptocurrency to lead crypto-assets to mainstream adoption is most likely going to be the one currently listed behind Bitcoin.
The Next Wave is ... Soon
The market has changed, and is now clearly throwing its support behind those crypto projects that have the highest-probability of success for supporting real business.
The progress that XRP has made, even despite regulatory uncertainty and the overall market downturn, is evidence of this new trend, and it's supported by the publicly-available data for social media participation and search engines.
We know that the cryptomarket is ready to move forward.
We need to support the characteristics that help grow the market, and that means helping XRP to achieve mainstream use by the organizations willing to champion the use of digital assets for settling cross-border value transfer; we need regulatory certainty, and we need a clear taxonomy of crypto-assets by all of the major countries where correspondence banking has historically been based.
XRP will absolutely lead the transformation of the market into its new era; one where the value of a crypto-asset is not based on speculation, but by measurable aspects of its technology, its potential for reliably supporting commerce, and for the three pillars necessary for a proper decentralized crypto-asset: Security, scalability, and decentralization.
XRP has checked all of the boxes; and it's the one crypto-asset preferred by traders even during times of market contraction.
As a crypto enthusiast, you can invest based on market emotion, or you can objectively judge for yourself where the market is at, and make your decisions accordingly; it's clear what the future holds for crypto-assets, and it's also clear how that market is changing, despite the current trading volume measurements. Do yourself a favor: Don't be fooled by slick advertising or sloganism. Form your opinions based on hard facts, science, and insightful analysis.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Aziz Acharki