It's now 2019, and it's become quite evident that the cryptomarket is ready to move forward, but it faces opposition from those inside and outside of the market that would like to stifle it or see it reach only stunted growth reflective of previous accomplishments.
I've talked about the need for the entire market to move beyond its aging, inadequate technological roots.
And although that's an important change that needs to take place, and will take place eventually, the struggle directly in front of us is now clear; we need regulatory clarity in the West. The primary country I'm referring to is the United States.
Ripple executives have been hammering this point for years now, emphasizing how some businesses, financial institutions, and banks are reluctant to 'jump in with both feet' because of this regulatory uncertainty and gray area that currently exists with the taxonomy of what constitutes a 'security' versus a 'crypto-currency.'
Some crypto organizations and businesses have hired lobbying firms, but the power of these organizations pales in comparison to the collective voice of the governed. If each of us comprising the various coin tribes stands up and makes our voices heard, we can change this predicament in a time frame that supports continued innovation within the borders of Western countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
Not all of us have the time, energy or inclination to be leaders. We didn't choose this moment, but it is here whether you are aware of it or not, whether you choose to help or not.
Very simply: 'You' ... and 'we'... both need your leadership.
General Crypto News
The Token Taxonomy Act was first introduced in late 2018, at the close of the last Congressional session.
The act provides regulatory clarity for cryptocurrencies, and provides a clear taxonomy of when a digital asset transitions from 'security' to 'cryptocurrency.' Under the new law, cryptocurrencies wouldn't be subject to securities laws, but instead would fall under the jurisdiction of another governmental agency - the Federal Trade Commission. The 'pivotal point' would generally be when a cryptocurrency becomes a full-functioning network, telegraphing continued enforcement by the SEC for Initial Coin Offerings and their related tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.
This aspect of the act addresses the most obvious need for continued investor protection from suspect ICOs.
The bill also contains other proposals, at least in its first iteration, that dealt with the tax treatment of cryptocurrency trading, smoothing out and clarifying the tax laws for those that chose to own them.
Generally, this bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation for those of us that invest in crypto, as well as for the businesses that use it, along with the financial institutions and banks that stand to benefit from regulatory clarity.
The last session ended without any decision about the bill, however, and now its primary author and champion, Representative Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), is planning on re-introducing it in the current session:
He is asking for our help in supporting the bill, and specifically, he implies that readers should follow his provided link to do so: The link doesn't navigate to the home page for the Financial Services Committee. It navigates to the membership page, so that you can take further action to let individual members know of your support for the bill.
To help, find the member of Congress in that list that represents your area, and find out their email address; then follow through with an email of your own choosing, or borrow a form email from others that also feel strongly about seeing this bill progress through Congress:
Step 1: Start an email using the sample letter contents.
- Link to sample email / letter: Sample Letter on XRP Chat
Step 2: Find the right email contact to receive your email.
- Search for your US Representative: Financial Services Committee Membership List
- Then find their home page & discover their email ... then send your email.
Who To Follow: Your Local Legislator
When we think of crucial legislation - not just in the United States, but internationally, we must be brave enough to take action as individuals, and put our viewpoints forward. There are over a million XRP owners on Twitter and other social media. 2
If we put our voices together, and let our leaders know about the dire need for regulatory clarity - most specifically needed in the United States - we can move the topic forward in a productive manner.
For those XRP owners and fans in the United States, I recommend that you identify your local legislator on the US House Committee on Financial Services and decide to 'follow' them on social media and contact them to voice your support of the Token Taxonomy Act.
This won't be the last piece of legislation that will impact the adoption of blockchain technology or its associated innovation of trust-less, no-counter-party digital assets; but it's one of the first, and it's one of the most important.
Make certain that you set aside a few minutes to send an email and make your voice heard.
Find the time to send an email, as it will make a significant difference in how this effort proceeds, and will send a message about how loud our combined voices are on this topic!
The next "Ask Me Anything" with David Schwartz is scheduled for this Monday, April 1st.
The session invitation was sent out via Twitter on March 28th:
As of Friday morning on March 29th, there had already been over seventy questions submitted on Quora for the AMA session; in prior sessions, David Schwartz has made an effort to quickly go through the list and answer as many questions as he can in a specific amount of time.
He doesn't tend to shy away from the tough questions, either, so I'm predicting that there will be a lot of valuable content revealed to fans of both XRP and the interoperable technology Ripple has been creating. My own question had to do with plans for code proposals related to updating the consensus mechanism for XRP, such as Cobalt.
We'll see which questions he takes the time to address or respond to; it's definitely worth checking out when the time comes on Monday afternoon.
The Ripple Drop
Reinhard Cate, Ripple's Head of Content, released the latest episode of the Ripple Drop, the video series that operates as a concise video representation of some of the primary events happening within Ripple:
In the eleventh episode, the focus was on two concepts that interrelate: Ripple's emphasis on globalization and internationalization of its solution, along with a concept called "localization."
The first interview was with Jinal Surti, Ripple's Director of Business Operations. He explained "localization" - the concept of hiring teams from the geographic regions where Ripple is expanding - this way, emphasizing its importance:
"Stepping back, we are a cross border payments company. By definition, we have to be global, because our customers are global. The regions behave slightly differently.
What we're doing, is we're hiring teams that are closest to the customers in those regions, to make sure that those regional differences are taken into account as we expand our presence."
Essentially, this is Ripple's way of saying that their business approach to expansion is to carefully take into account the local laws, customs, and culture of where they are seeking to expand; this is a thoughtful and realistic strategy that many young companies lack - especially in technology, where a lot of Silicon Valley start-ups want to 'let their code do the talking' in an effort to leapfrog past international differences.
Ken Weber, Ripple's Head of Social Impact, then introduced why Ripple chose to invest in Tipping Point, a local San Francisco charitable organization. For those that don't already know, Ripple donated one million dollars to the Bay Area charity to help combat local poverty. 3
The video then ended with an update from Amy Hirth, who is organizing Ripple's series of "Ripple Regionals" events. She provided a quick update on the latest one, which was a Ripple Regionals event that took place in Bangkok, Thailand:
"We just wrapped our second Ripple Regional event. We had about 70 folks in attendance, both customers and people just interested in learning more about RippleNet. And also leaders in the region who are really carrying the torch forward for innovation and Fintech and payments.
One takeaway I had from today is just the appetite to do more. I think there's a lot of opportunity here in Southeast Asia to improve global payments, and Ripple is really at the forefront of that."
This particular Ripple Drop definitely felt like a safe corporate promotion video, but it did introduce a few executive team members that we haven't seen much before; and it also reminded viewers of the on-going "Ripple Regionals" events that seem to be stepping across alternate geographic 'focal points' in Ripple's international approach.
I really enjoyed hearing more about their charitable contribution to Tipping Point. It's a great cause and I hope to see more of that in future years.
Federal Bank Ltd.
Federal Bank is a large private bank in India that boasts 8 million customers, 1.2 million of which are considered "NRIs," or Non-resident Indians. This means that these customers live abroad but still make use of an account at Federal Bank. 4
This statistic puts Federal Bank in an interesting and prominent category as a remittance leader, handling an enormous 15% of all Indian inward remittances.
On March 28th, the bank released information about two new projects for streamlining remittance payments from the UAE, with its CEO, Shyam Srinivasan, saying: 5
“Federal Bank is an important part of the remittance eco-system to India, so, it is only natural for us to offer the latest technology to our customers and remittance partners such as exchange houses and banks.”
The bank created a partnership with Ripple to handle the upgrade to their platforms, signed on the same day of the press release. 6
This particular client is notable because of the massive size of their client base, and specifically because of the huge share of the remittance market it commands. Other very large Indian banks are also part of RippleNet, and this latest addition to the network strengthens the depth and coverage for Ripple in a specific, high-frequency corridor.
Tristan teased the XRP Community with a preview of a new project, called the "XRPay Application," on March 28th, with the following tweet:
The preview was an exciting opportunity to see what could be possible in the very near future with a new application for vendors to receive payment with XRP, and it should extend the XRP ecosystem in an intuitive way similar to how easy it is to use other applications invented by members of the XRPL Labs team ... whether they're private projects of individuals, like the XRP Tip Bot, or officially-covered projects of XRPL Labs.
I look forward to hearing about the XRPay Application in the near future as Tristan or others choose to release more information.
No Way! Three Hours of Bob Way
Bob Way is a Ripple Alumnus who has struck out on his own, and is now in the middle of working on a project - and building a project team - for a new venture. While he has, so far, provided only hints at the nature of his new venture, he is getting to know many of us in the XRP Community.
I recently interviewed him and provided that commentary in a blog on March 15th.
The interview lasted an amazing three (plus) hours, and afforded Alex to cover some pre-selected topics with Bob, as well as to ask questions posed by fans live on the show.
The topics were very comprehensive, and covered some new territory, as well as topics where Bob has previously shared his opinion on forums such as XRP Chat.
Here is one question that revealed the "Bitcoin roots" of his and other Ripple founders & early employees:
Question (Alex Cobb): "The early people of Ripple.. were actually Bitcoiners before that, right?"
Answer: (Bob Way): "Bitcoin, when I discovered it, was the most amazing, awesome thing in the world, because they solved... they solved this really hard problem, which was how to do peer-to-peer money, right? So, without some central authority. And so the idea was just, 'hey, we're just a bunch of people. Let's trade it according to our own rules. And let's do that.'
And it was an awesome idea.
And so i was infatuated with that back in 2010, and I discovered it pretty early - I was on the Bitcointalk forums really early. So, everybody at ripple was early there, too.
It's famous ...
... David was early on in bitcoin. He was a miner. Arthur was early on in bitcoin, in the exchange community. So everybody just said 'you know, this Bitcoin thing is really, really awesome... but we could do better, right?'
That's all they really thought. And boy, did that turn out to be crazy controversial!"
Comment (Alex Cobb): "yeah.. .oh yeah, big time. It's full-on, heads clashing on Twitter between Bitcoin and XRP. It can get pretty crazy sometimes."
Comment (Bob Way): "It is mindbogglingly crazy and hostile. And the (Bitcoin) community has just been like that from day one, since I got there. because absolutely every one has a dog in the fight. Like, if people hate XRP, or hate Ripple, it's really because they've invested or bet on something else, and if Ripple wins, they lose; everybody sees it as sort of a zero-sum game.
As we grew at Ripple, we saw this less and less as a zero-sum game. And that's what you see with the Interledger Protocol and some of the other layers of technology we've invested in."
Later on, Alex and Bob shifted the conversation into one of 'receiving payments,' based off of an original discussion point about xVia, xCurrent, and xPool. Bob made the point that xRapid is the 'receive' portion of payment flow, and then talked about the absence of good, light-weight APIs for 'receiving' payments. I got the distinct impression that this was a sore point with Bob, and that he'd been ... waiting to visit this point in a public setting:
"There's a lot of people wanting to help you spend your money.
There's a lot fewer people helping you receive your money. And I know Alex knows this, based on trying to get paid via YouTube ...
... but really, that's where all the profit is. If you buy something from a merchant, it might have on their end, a thirty percent markup ... that's their profit. So if you're trying to sell a service to a merchant, they have a lot more room to pay you for giving them better, cheaper service, than if you're trying to be anywhere else on the value chain ...
... because they may have a point three percent markup on here, and you're trying to get a cut of that. And so, the person helping merchants or other people receive money to deliver their goods faster and simpler, to me I see that as the giant un-addressed opportunity. If anybody wanted to do a Ripple business, that's where you want to go in.
You want to help people receive money and synchronize that payment to delivery transactions ...
... It's huge. The cost being borne by the merchants for all your fancy credit card rebates ... whenever your credit cards go 'Hey, we're going to give you three percent cash back,' guess where that cash comes from? The merchants! They're not getting that.
There's no magic. The bank's not kicking three percent out of their cut! It's the merchant's money that you're getting back. And so, when you think about that, you go 'Oh, man, that's kind of crappy,' right? If I would've paid in cash, and he charged me ten dollars, he'd get ten dollars."
It's this type of frank discussion about the current state of the payments ecosystem that is one of the most valuable parts of dialogue that Bob Way has brought to the XRP Community; he pushes complex topics into the light of day, connects them to decisions about what Ripple has done - and is doing - and then discusses what the future could look like given solutions that currently may not exist.
The interview and AMA-style session was long enough to provide an opportunity for Bob to comment on a wide variety of topics, including some that have been the center of multiple online debates on social media.
If you are following topics related to XRP, I highly recommend watching the full YouTube video when you have a chance.
Congratulations to Alex Cobb for hosting an amazing interview, and thanks to Bob Way for providing his frank and unfiltered commentary on many challenging topics.
Two new exchanges added support for XRP in the past few days, extending the reach of its network liquidity:
OMGFIN: OMGFIN is an Estonian crypto exchange that just added XRP support on March 26th. They are also running a referral program to draw more customers into their exchange, involving cash-back rewards for crypto traders. 7
Coinvest: Coinvest is a US-based crypto exchange that uses a decentralized architecture. On March 28th, it was communicated that the exchange would be supporting XRP, among a list of other cryptocurrencies. The platform also trades in derivatives, and XRP will contain at least four crypto-only pairings. 8
It's always great to see new exchanges added to the entire crypto network. Long gone are the days when the lack of exchanges would act as a bottle-neck to market entry; each week we are seeing more significant XRP-enabled entrants to the crypto exchange market.
Leaders Step Forward
If you can spare a few minutes, you can make an incredible difference for the Token Taxonomy Act.
Use the form letter if you'd like; the important thing is that you send an email to your representative on the list of members of the US House Committee on Financial Services.
If each of us with a stake in the needed regulatory clarity for crypto-assets steps forward and makes their voice heard, we can shake the foundations of leadership with our combined voice. Don't underestimate what one person can do, and what we can do collectively as an entire community.
Let your legislator hear your thoughts and opinions, and help move the United States forward into the future as a leader in blockchain technology and as a country with a progressive stance on digital assets.
Once we have these rules established, stakeholder businesses here in the United States stand ready to make the leap; and that spells victory for all digital assets, and especially the one used for cross-border value transfer, micropayments, and content monetization: XRP.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Sydney Rae