We knew that the journey would not be easy.
Those that stand to lose on their proof-of-work investments are well-financed, and some of them are terrified of what they're seeing in the market. The trend is inescapable, and has been echoed from various market leaders - not just from XRP supporters:
Proof-of-work 'mining' used to secure networks is unsustainable.
Forget mining centralization in China. Forget that Bitcoin only supports six transactions per second. Forget the constant danger of a 51% attack. Forget the code governance chaos and the forks that go along with it.
As a crypto investor - not even specifically an XRP investor - there is one thing you must never forget. Proof-of-work mining is heading towards gobbling up 20% of the entire Earth's electrical grid and power production. If Bitcoin continues on its current trajectory, its current massive energy usage will be dwarfed by its future consumption.
Currently, Bitcoin uses the equivalent electricity of the entire nation of Austria:
In a rational world, this should be completely unacceptable. The civilized world should rise up immediately and proclaim that proof-of-work needs to step aside for POS and BFT based cryptocurrencies instead of technology that destroys the environment.
But the cryptomarket is not a rational place, and those early Bitcoiners who still own stacks of the world's first cryptocurrency are supremely motivated to hide Bitcoin's senseless energy consumption. In fact, they've made every effort to protect Bitcoin's market share, buying up crypto news outlets, and waging wars of disinformation against any innovation in decentralized validation that could threaten Bitcoin.
Enough is enough.
I am not trying to stomp on competition with XRP. Far from it! I respect new forms of transaction validation that do not rely on wasteful proof-of-work mining. This includes any network with a proof-of-stake or BFT system - or any other decentralized validation technology - that does not contribute to global warming.
If you currently own Bitcoin - or any other proof-of-work crypto that relies on energy-intensive mining - I genuinely implore you to sell it and invest in something else.
Yes, I would prefer that you purchase XRP; but I will settle for any other cryptocurrency that does not contribute to massive electrical consumption.
I believe that XRP is the one cryptocurrency that is best positioned to take crypto through the next phase of its growth. XRP is already being adopted by banks, credit unions, remittance processors, and others to move money across borders. The use case for digital assets in cross-border payments is super-massive, and XRP is now beginning to see adoption on a large scale for this use case.
XRP is scalable.
XRP is decentralized.
Ripple operates 7% of the validators on the network. The rest are run by other stakeholder businesses and organizations who have a vested interest in the health of the XRP Ledger.
XRP is reliable.
The XRP Ledger has closed over 44 million ledgers without incident since its inception.
XRP is secure.
The XRP Ledger is designed to easily repel DDOS attacks and other threats on the network.
XRP uses decentralized code governance.
Changes to the network only happen with approval of the validators.
XRP is energy-efficient.
This is the most important point compared to current Bitcoin usage. Because it uses a Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus mechanism, XRP uses only a fraction of the electricity that proof-of-work cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin rely on:
Real businesses do not respect a cryptomarket run amok by the early Bitcoin owners. It's obvious what perspective that the established financial world has at this point: To invest only in blockchain technology enterprises, solutions, and software that truly solves a problem and adds value.
Like the early Internet companies, the digital assets that are secondary contenders will prevail; and the cryptomarket needs to collectively set aside its predilection with wasteful - and insecure - proof-of-work networks, and turn its attention to the more modern and dependable forms of decentralization. It's far past time to confront the crypto-anarchists that have been led astray into believing that they must sacrifice Earth's environment to have economic inclusion. It's simply not true, and it's a fiction promoted by early Bitcoin holders. I've been around since 2013, and I've seen it first-hand.
XRP is designed to increase the velocity of money worldwide, leading to more efficient international markets; and it will allow money to flow freely across borders at a rate of speed and low cost that will supercharge entire economies. Its ecosystem participants like Coil have created tools like Mojaloop to help reach the un-banked populations of the world.
Of course, you won't hear about any of these facts if you stick your head in the sand and support outdated, environmentally-destructive technology such as Bitcoin.
It's time for us to change the narrative and provide leadership for the sake of moving all of crypto forward.
General Crypto News
A writer for the Global Crypto Press, Ross Davis, has gone on record with news about the new Token Taxonomy Act bill that was introduced into Congress late in the 115th session, and is due to be re-introduced in 2019.
Ross Davis indicated: 1
"I was able to confirm a target date of February 14th (Valentines day) for the bill to be officially introduced."
For those that don't know about the proposed bill already, it 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. 2 The 'pivotal point' would generally be when a cryptocurrency becomes a full-functioning network, indicating a focus on ICOs and their related tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.
The bill also contains some 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 use 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 Davos World Economic Forum, which occurred from January 22-25, featured a panel discussion called "Tech Transformers," facilitated by Arjun Kharpal, a CNBC Tech Correspondent. The panel included:
- Edith Yeung, Partner, 500 Startups
- Brad Garlinghouse, CEO, Ripple
- Jeff Schumacher, CEO & Founder, BCG Digital Ventures
- Glenn Hutchins, Co-founder, Silverlake Partners
It was refreshing to see Brad Garlinghouse, along with a diverse set of other participants, and the questions were pointed directly at what the future holds for Bitcoin and XRP:
The discussion topics provided some potent opportunities for Brad Garlinghouse to share his observations about the cryptomarket, along with where he sees adoption heading.
After a comment from Glenn Hutchins, who unfortunately made the mistake of labeling Bitcoin's use case as a 'store of value,' Brad Garlinghouse used the opportunity to emphasize the importance of utility for any digital asset that has ambitions to be used as a means of exchange and value storage:
"The long-term value of any digital asset will be derived from the utility that it delivers."
And then later, in response to a question from Arjun Kharpal about how regulation is impacting blockchain technology, he responded with an uncharacteristically muted, but positive response, indicating:
"Many people in the world - not just regulators - they hear the word 'crypto' and their brain goes immediately to 'Silk Road' and illegal activities. And you have to bring them up to speed: There are real use cases - real utility - that are actually good for governments, good for banks, that can be leveraged.
So it's an education process ...
... governments around the world need to provide clarity. The US government probably is a little bit behind on that; I think it's good that the US Securities and Exchange Commission has gone after some of the scams, and gone after some of the ICOs; I think that's a good thing for the whole industry maturing. But we've got a long way to go."
The summation of regulatory impact was consistent with what he's said in the past, and it was a good, and even mildly positive, reminder that regulatory clarification is a process that moves in incremental steps instead of great leaps.
The key for banking adoption of XRP for use as a settlement token is whether or not the required level of regulatory clarity has been achieved from their standpoint.
I recommend the video to anybody who is curious to see some of the latest thinking around the state of blockchain adoption by four fintech industry icons.
New UBRI Partners
The University Blockchain Research Initiative is an effort funded by Ripple to promote blockchain technology research at various universities around the world, with many in the US, but also some overseas, including ones in the Asia-Pacific area.
On January 22nd, Emi Yoshikawa announced that Ripple had partnered with Tsinghua University Institute for Fintech Research, which is part of the overall Tsinghua Research University in Beijing: 3
UBRI launched in 2018; Ripple selects universities from around the world that are developing curriculum in the areas of distributed computing, cryptography, and digital payments. 4 In addition to the grant itself, the UBRI provides Ripple technology and tools for research purposes, as well as limited access to Ripple in-house experts.
Investing in education is a proven technique for growing the next generation of technology professionals necessary to carry an entire industry forward, and other companies such as Microsoft have already pioneered these efforts.
The UBRI may indirectly help Ripple grow its business far beyond its current size in 2019.
Quarter 4 2018 XRP Markets Report
Ripple published their Quarter 4 2018 XRP Markets Report on January 24th, 2019.
The report seemed tailored for those with a busy schedule, launching directly into the quarterly sales numbers. From previous XRP Markets Reports, I've collected the data points in a running list to compare to other quarters:
The amount of programmatic sales as a percentage of overall volume was lower by a basis point from the prior quarter, and resulted in a larger amount of cash intake due to greater price buoyancy during the last quarter of 2018.
The interesting note was that institutional sales decreased in the last quarter, but were still the second highest on record, weighing in at just over $40 million dollars.
The XRP Markets Report has consistently tracked and published escrow information since the escrows started to expire during 2018. This report indicated that Ripple ended up 'keeping' 600 million of the 3 billion released in quarter 4, placing the remainder - 2.4 billion - back into escrow:
This amount, while moderately higher than we saw in the previous quarter, represents a dramatic departure from prior quarters, roughly doubling the amount of XRP retained for expansion activities.
Why should we monitor how much is retained and used?
Here's why in a nutshell: While the sales numbers are very transparent, and indicate a disciplined approach for not impacting the retail market, there is no such transparency about how the XRP supply released from escrow is used.
An example: 600 million XRP roughly equates to $250 million at quarter 4 prices. Assuming that all of the programmatic and wholesale sales of XRP originated with the same escrow amount, that means that another $120 million in XRP entered the market indirectly from those institutions that received investment from various Ripple initiatives.
This isn't bad by any means; it's only a comment on how we should truly account for how much XRP potentially entered the supply. From my perspective, the true number is more like $250 million dollars worth - which is still insignificant compared to global volume.
For those that are focused on the amount of XRP entering supply, keep in mind that these amounts have been used very astutely by Ripple for investment in the ecosystem, high-profile philanthropic activities, and to bootstrap network liquidity. The amount sold is insignificant compared to the total market volume trading, and yet can have a very potent impact on demand.
Unlike an ICO, where there is typically zero visibility into how the sponsoring organization's holdings are managed, Ripple is very candid about its actions.
The exciting part of the report was one of the shortest sections.
Starting with the fourth quarter, Ripple has now devoted a section of the report that addresses xRapid. In this case, there wasn't much to report for quarter 4, since the solution only recently went live; however, my hope is that Ripple will release consolidated xRapid numbers in the future, as well as their xRapid volume targets.
The current XRP Markets Report detailed the first adopters of xRapid, referencing Mercury FX, Cuallix, and Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union.
Other XRP Markets Report Items
The remainder of the XRP Markets Report appropriated some space to cover the increasing popularity of 'stablecoins' in the wider cryptomarket, and sounded a note of caution about how some investors may not understand the pitfalls - and differences - between a counter-party asset and a trust-less crypto-asset.
The report also cataloged some recent enforcement actions from the SEC, and noted that institutional investors are now getting into the cryptomarket in larger numbers, via new over-the-counter on-ramps, as well as the first multi-crypto ETF listed on a Swiss exchange.
It was a fantastic and positive note on which to wrap up the report.
Overall, I'd say this XRP Markets Report is almost precisely what I expected, and it's great that, from a larger perspective, those that own XRP have a championing organization that operates as transparently as Ripple, with a consistent quarterly chronicle of sales and investment activity.
Sabine Bertram from Coil has published her second blog.
While the first one documented some of her own experience when setting up a Codius host, the second one described how she pioneered a new web application that pays participants in XRP for their answers.
She's calling the application, aptly, "ILP-Surveys," and it runs on an MVC stack similar to some other cutting-edge web and mobile apps, using Bootstrap, Koa, and Redis.
The beginning of her blog really hooked me, because conducting academic surveys and motivating users to finish answering the entire question set is a challenge for researchers worldwide. Her application can be configured to use any cryptocurrency that is compatible with ILP, which so far includes XRP, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and even some traditional financial alternatives like PayPal and Venmo if the researcher wants to reward users in fiat currency.
In addition to university researchers, I can see some advertisers eventually capitalizing on the popularity of crypto to reward survey participants.
This is one application that truly has a chance of 'going viral' if it inspires the right audience.
Even though their platform may end up competing obliquely with Ripple's financial products, it's important for XRP holders to track R3's progress when it comes to banking adoption as well, because of their product's compatibility with XRP. 5
The Corda Settler, in late 2018, was changed to allow XRP as a mode of settlement, clearing the way for interoperability between banks that use Ripple tech such as xRapid, and other banks that use R3 products such as Corda.
On January 16th, R3 announced the formation of a new non-profit foundation for its member banks, called the Corda Network Foundation. 6 The purpose of the non-profit organization will be to remove the network governance function from R3, and essentially take it over:
"Governance and the work encouraging adoption of Corda Network will be transitioned over to the new Corda Network Foundation. The Foundation’s board will be comprised of directors drawn from participants on the Network and elected by members of Corda Network. It will operate independently of R3 and its decision making will be transparent and available to all network members."
My own, honest opinion about this is that it's probably a good move, no matter the motivations behind it. As long as R3 continues to invest money in the new 3rd-party organization, and its member banks also continue to support it, I can see how the goals communicated in the official announcement will be addressed.
It's also important for XRP holders to note that R3 is not shying away from its compatibility with digital assets, as the first item listed in its official announcement was:
"Corda Network allows digital assets and data to flow easily and securely between businesses running Corda or Corda Enterprise."
It was a re-assuring nod to banks who know that their future will include the use of digital assets at some point.
ING is a massive Dutch conglomerate that has its tentacles in banking, finance, insurance, and asset management. Their assets total just under one trillion dollars. 7
On January 22nd, ING announced that they'd purchased an unlimited number of Corda licenses for use on their platform, with the goal of spreading use of the CorDapps throughout their enterprise. For its own part, ING has been one of the most enthusiastic early adopters of blockchain technology in banking, recruiting and growing its internal talent pool. 8
Annerie Vreugdenhil, ING's Head of Innovation for Wholesale Banking, noted:
"Strengthening our partnership, by signing this licensing agreement, marks a huge milestone towards empowering clients to transition to a distributed economy."
It was a major commitment for ING, and it's definitely a big win for adoption of Corda for R3. For those of us that support XRP adoption as a means of settlement, it's definitely a deal to keep tabs on, specifically because ING might become one of the largest users of CorDapps , including the Corda Settler.
BTCExa, an Australian-based crypto exchange, previously announced in December that they'd made a decision to use XRP as one of their base currencies. 9
It was a smart move for the exchange, allowing traders to quickly move value into and out of the platform. The exchange, by its own description, focuses on "low market cap cryptocurrencies," which typically offer higher volatility and lower volume, providing a high-risk investing alternative to those seeking out such opportunities. 10
As a follow up, one month later, BTCExa sent out a tweet noting that they'd added another pairing for traders:
SHEEP coin is a fresh Ethereum token created as a result of the Sheepcoin Initial Coin Offering; so far, I cannot find it on any established coin consolidation sites because it is so new. 11
Offering an initial listing to some of these niche utility tokens will be part of the overall value proposition strategy for BTCExa. It may end up being a smart move; there are many crypto investors that would like to 'get in early,' and if an exchange provides that opportunity, then I can see it posting some impressive volume numbers in the future.
"We are always looking to develop our services in new directions, and listing the second largest cryptocurrency in terms of capitalization is a huge step for Freewallet."
It's one more crypto wallet that will (eventually) offer XRP support. No time frame has been provided by Freewallet about when they will have XRP support enabled; however, other service providers have been able to add XRP support in quick fashion.
Note: I do not endorse any specific XRP wallet.
We Must Provide Leadership
The cryptomarket is flailing. With Bitcoin at the helm, the world is confused. While some people may have heard about Bitcoin's intractable problems, they look at the way that the cryptomarket is currently arranged, with XRP in second place, and they may be under the impression that there's some rational reason for this.
But there is no rational reason.
Proof-of-work protectionists have been at it for years, intentionally obscuring inconvenient facts and maligning any innovation which threatens to challenge Bitcoin's dominant market share of trading.
These activities have involved the spreading of propaganda against XRP - and any network - that seeks to challenge Bitcoin's dominance. They would like the world not to know that, if left unchecked, Bitcoin mining is positioned to gobble up 20% of the Earth's electrical production, contributing to global warming and speeding up humanity's demise.
It's time for XRP supporters to lead the way forward.
We must be organized; we must be factual; we must keep the narrative positive and progressive. Additionally, we must be ready to combat intentional obfuscation, distraction tactics, misinformation, and the 'religious zealotry' of some idealists that have been led astray by Bitcoin protectionists.
The world needs to understand about how the financial interests of a few early Bitcoin investors have warped an entire industry, by their avoidance of rational discourse, controlling industry news outlets, and creating false narratives that seek to divide what is the fastest-growing crypto community on social media.
In short, we need to provide the leadership missing from the cryptomarket.
We do it with facts. We do it with patient education. We do it by focusing on the good that each of us can do to help the cryptomarket, help the environment, and bring to light the fact that Bitcoin cannot - and will not - move crypto forward. Each of us needs to choose our own role in this effort, and make it a positive one.
Already, we've seen what we can do as a team. Let's continue the momentum; both for ourselves and XRP, but even more importantly, to move crypto forward using modern technology and to protect Earth's environment.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Lou Levit