Sometimes, you feel the oily residue of somebody spying on you: When you purchase a five-pack of digital storage devices on Amazon and then for the next two weeks you notice web advertisements trying to sell you flash drives. Or when you do a search on Google for Khaki trousers and then see an advertisement for chinos at a local store displayed in the side navigation of a random website.
Even more sinister, when algorithms on Facebook have identified your possible political affiliation from your connections and browsing habits, you receive solicitations through the mail for donations to a specific political party, even though you haven't registered with any party.
This irritating feeling on your skin is the cost of a so-called "free Internet."
We now live in a dystopian society that science fiction did not predict. Sadly, the closest fictional resemblance to today's world would be George Orwell's "1984," but even that novel didn't understand the depth of the loss of privacy that our society would find itself in today. Our use of technology has enabled sophisticated tracking of our preferences and even modes of thinking, in an effort to monetize the Internet for advertising companies.
These companies, and the Internet giants that sell your data, do not have your best interests at heart and are not concerned about the long-term impacts of what they've done; once data has been sold, there's no 'getting it back.'
But now there's hope: Web Monetization.
Web monetization is an idea that we don't need advertising for content creators to be rewarded. It provides a choice for consumers to use websites that could instead make money a different way - through automatic micropayments from browsers.
Sounds crazy, right? It's not! In fact, the Internet was originally set up to support automatic payments from browsers, but that extension was never completed, resulting in a pay-through-advertising model that has caused these disturbing losses in our privacy. But now, one company is changing all that: Coil
Coil has proposed that the World Wide Web Consortium consider standardization of Web Monetization, so that browsers can automatically make payments to sites that opt in to receiving this revenue, providing a method for content creators on the Internet to make money without having to cooperate with privacy-destroying advertising and tracking. 1
It gets even better: Coil has not waited for the W3C to approve Web Monetization. They've figured out a simple way for it to work now, with people that sign up as early adopters. It's easy and fun, and I'll talk about their new service in a minute.
But first, let's review some highlights over the past few days...
General Crypto News
In April of this year, India's reserve bank moved to ban cryptocurrency firms and businesses from receiving banking services. This resulted in a chilling effect on Indian-based crypto exchanges, but it didn't stop India's citizens from being able to buy and hold cryptocurrencies. 2
Despite this hard-line stance, the latest news reported by the India Times indicates that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has formed an internal group to study both blockchain technology and its cryptocurrency counterparts. The fact is, India is not negative about cryptographic networks and blockchain technology, but definitely made a distinction when it comes to cryptocurrencies.
The India Times cited two anonymous sources for the formation of the new internal RBI group, and speculated that: 3
"This new unit will research and possibly draft rules and supervise new emerging technologies in the future..."
While I predicted that India - and China - would eventually clarify their rules around cryptocurrency, developments like the formation of this internal RBI group signal that the trend towards more choices for citizens is not about to reverse; the technology underpinning the new cryptocurrencies makes them censorship-resistant, and it's impossible to stop people from accessing a cryptocurrency network that can go across borders as easily as a text message.
Public Bond Issuance through Blockchain Technology
Russia, in May of this year, issued the first commercial bond with a smart contract. 4 Following this development just months later, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), Australia's largest bank, has just announced the first public bond issued using blockchain technology.
It's a World Bank two-year bond that will include a 2.251 percent return. 5 It's a prototype for future blockchain-issued bonds, titled "Bondi" (Blockchain New Debt Instrument).
James Wall, the Executive General Manager of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, was quoted as saying:
“You’re collapsing a traditional bond issuance from a manual bookbuild process and allocation process, an extended settlement then a registrar and a custodian, into something that could happen online instantaneously.”
This World Bank bond is one example of what smart contracts enable; the creation of a new asset or debt instrument. Perhaps Codius might be the standard tool used for such an issuance in future examples.
The World Blockchain Forum is a global series of conferences that brings together blockchain experts, entrepreneurs, and businesses to connect and participate in panel discussions and onstage presentations. They've held previous conferences in London, Dubai, and Miami, and have included speakers such as Vitalik Buterin, Charlie Shrem, and Roger Ver.6
The next one is in London, and Marjan Delatinne, Ripple's Global Head of Banking, will be representing Ripple in a session titled "Blockchain Payments: On-Chain vs. Layer 2:"
Marjan Delatinne has an impressive resume in correspondence banking, and was the former Business Director of SWIFT's GPI before 'switching sides' and making the move to Ripple in 2017. While the month of September features a number of high-profile public appearances by Ripple, this specific topic at the World Blockchain Forum seems to dovetail perfectly with the approaching SWELL Conference.
Fintech Americas 2018
Another banking-related conference is taking place in Miami Beach from September 6 - 7. It's titled Fintech Americas 2018, and it's in its fifth iteration, with the theme for this year's conference as "Digitally Transforming Financial Institutions for the Fintech Age."
Eric van Miltenburg, Ripple's Senior VP of Global Operations, will be giving a short presentation with the provocative title "The Blockchain Revolution Has Begun...And it's not Bitcoin!"
The detailed description also indicates a more assertive stance from Ripple in communicating precisely their viewpoint on digital transformation of banking:
"Bitcoin may have brought blockchain to the forefront, but it is clear that the future of this technology lies in digital assets, like XRP. As Ripple’s CEO declared earlier this year, the blockchain revolution is not going to happen outside of the financial system, but from within it.
Banks are waking up to this potentially-transformative technology and the early adopters are paving the way for a global Internet of Value. In this Fireside Chat, Ripple’s SVP of Global Operations, Eric van Miltenburg, will talk about the fundamentals of blockchain, where we are in its evolution and what banks can expect in the future."
This presentation will be followed up with a discussion about the use of digital assets in banking with Joe Dewey, a Partner with Holland & Knight, an international law firm, and Fernando Pavani, the CEO of BeeTech, a money transfer company operating in Brazil - and a member of RippleNet.
I'm intrigued by what might be said at both of these sessions in Miami Beach; perhaps Ripple will release some of the content ahead of the SWELL conference to set the stage for similar topics.
When I first blogged about the creation of Coil, Stefan Thomas's new company, I talked about the draft version of the Web Monetization standard, which is a step forward for web-based payment for content. It takes the hassle out of paywalls and instead automates payments for those that have configured their browser correctly.
While Web Monetization is merely a draft version of a new standard at present, it forms the basis for supporting a new kind of Internet - one in which content creators can be rewarded for their services, applications, and creations without having to rely on privacy-destroying web advertising. And in profiling the proposed standard, I assumed that Coil would first wait for it to be approved before building the next generation of applications that could help content creators - a process I estimated could take months - at best.
But the team at Coil had something else entirely in mind, and they kept it a secret - until now: That secret was unveiled this week as Coil published the first iteration of web monetization in action now... not some date in the future:
What To Do If You Want To Participate
To participate in web monetization as a consumer, you must create a Coil account:
- The first step is to configure your browser by pressing the "Register Coil Handler" button on the Coil website while using the browser that you wish to use to automatically browse and pay websites. This button will appear different depending on your browser. For example, if you are using Chrome, the button will say "Download Chrome Extension."
- The second step is to fund your Coil account with a credit card, via Stripe. How much do you pay? No matter what, it's a flat fee per month of $5.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Coil payments are not yet active for the public at large, so the team will most likely put you on a wait list for now. You should see a message that looks like this:
Once Coil is ready for you and activates your account, the next step is the easy - and fun - part: As you browse websites and content that accept Coil payments, the money is converted into XRP and then sent to the website owner. Automatically.
But don't worry - the $5 dollar monthly charge is never exceeded. You can do unlimited browsing and Coil will make up any overage by paying the websites from their own reserves of XRP. If you end up browsing less, then Coil makes a profit.
The long-term details are probably still being configured, but that's the initial implementation.
What if You Want to Receive Payments?
If you want to receive payments as a content creator, you'll need a Payment Pointer in your Coil account. This is an ILP (Interledger Protocol) requirement. If you run an ILP node, you can designate your own payment pointer. However, the simpliest way to get one is through the XRP Tip Bot web site. 11
First, go to the XRP Tip Bot site, log in, and then navigate to where WietseWind has configured the application to automatically provide you with an address:
You should then take this Payment Pointer and enter it into your Coil account. Now you're free to link your YouTube or Twitch account so you can receive payments as Coil-enabled users browse or view your content!
Does this mean I have to have a Coil Membership to Keep Tipping?
No. All of this is optional; if you wish to keep tipping manually, you still can. But for those that want to participate, your browser will automatically send an XRP Blog Author - or other content creator - some zerps!
Great! Now How Does Coil Benefit XRP?
According to Coil's FAQ, even though users pay for their monthly Coil subscription with a flat $5 dollar fee, Coil sends payments to content creators using XRP.
This is an exciting development, and I predict that, due to Coil's fast work at browser integration, that web monetization is about to take off at an unforeseen level.
Because content creators are looking for ways to get paid. When they put in hard work on their videos, their music, their art, and their written content, it's right for them to be rewarded financially. Every now and again we hear of YouTubers or other social media personalities making a lot of money; Coil levels the playing field and gives an incentive to new artists and content creators.
We've known for some time now that XRP doesn't depend on energy-intensive mining to secure its network like the early cryptocurrency networks that depend on proof-of-work. Proof-of-work was the first approach proposed to secure decentralized networks, but it has since been replaced by much more efficient alternatives such as XRP's consensus algorithm.
While the knowledge that these new consensus models are more efficient has been commonly accepted by groups within cryptocurrency, to date there has been an absence of formal studies in scientific papers and universities to document the actual differences in energy usage: Until now.
On August 27th, an XRP Community member shared a link to a published article by two authors that studied the energy usage of four currencies & one payment network, compared with one another:7
- American Dollar (USD)
- Visa Network
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- XRP Ledger (XRP)
The study contained one chart in particular that compared the four currencies, using the VISA network to compare USD electricity consumption:
The paper also went on to note that Bitcoin's annual energy consumption now exceeds the countries of Ecuador and Nigeria, among others.
The time for the crypto market to silently give a 'thank you' to Bitcoin and move on to the more modern networks is at hand; it's the right thing to do to support scalability of blockchain technology, move cryptocurrency forward in the right direction, and it's the right thing to do for planet Earth.
In 2017, eToro added support for XRP, and has since made some enhancements to its platform; the latest feature added for XRP includes two new additional pairings against both the British Pound Sterling (GBP) and the Japanese Yen (JPY). 10 I confirmed this addition with eToro directly over Twitter DM.
Subsequent to this announcement, one Twitter user decided to follow up on the news with a separate question:
Note that eToro did not issue a simple denial of that question, but instead indicated that they couldn't comment. Does this signify a development in the works?
XRP Tip Bot Updates
Less than a week ago, WietseWind added support for multi-tipping via the XRP Tip Bot. This allows individuals to tip more than one person at a time within a tweet, providing maximum flexibility. In addition, I also indicated that there was another update in the works: This week, WietseWind revealed it in grand fashion via Twitter announcement:
This update will create what's known as an "ILP Payment Pointer" for anybody with an XRP Tip Bot account. For example, mine is: $twitter.xrptipbot.com/Hodor7777
What do you do with this?
Copy the pointer onto your clipboard. Go back to your Coil account, and then configure your account to receive Coil payments at that pointer address. If you are a blogger on the XRP Community Blog site, or a YouTuber who has connected your YouTube site to Coil, you will automatically be paid for your content:
Not a bad deal, huh?
New Deposit Options
WietseWind also updated the deposit function for the XRP Tip Bot, integrating it with Coil and providing users with the ability to top up their XRP Tip Bot account with XRP from their Coil account:
Not only that, but he's configured the XRP Tip Bot's official donation pages to automatically accept a browser's payment when the user navigates to the page!
WietseWind continues to blaze the trails of XRP integration for the community, right along with the businesses that are building on XRP. I can't wait to see what's next!
Ledger Exposed has been used for many months now, especially after WietseWind added the Richlist Index and the Richlist Stats. It seems that there is no shortage of human curiosity about where people stack up against other owners of XRP, and the website received a lot of publicity on social media after it started to become well-known. It also provided an objective source of information about ownership distribution of XRP among wallets for those looking to compare it to other networks.
The site was updated by WietseWind to provide other statistics and ledger insight as well: This includes information about escrows - including Ripple's escrows of its treasury XRP holdings, and data specific to individual transactions, as well as an entertaining real-time view of the XRP Ledger:
This site is well beyond its roots now, and has grown to include many value-added features and insight for people that are interested in conducting research into the XRP Ledger and its data.
It has a variety of helpful tools when cross-examining XRP Ledger content, and also individual wallets. It's been used to track transaction flows from one ledger to the next, and users can follow one wallet to its source activation wallet, and so forth, all the way back to the early time frames of XRP. Many users claim that the Wallet explorer on Bithomp is more intuitive and easy-to-understand than the one on XRP Charts.
While it's all subjective according to each user's tastes, I admit that I find the interface at Bithomp a bit easier to understand, as its starting point mimics many other blockchain explorers, and can accept a transaction or a wallet:
This is also the wallet and transaction explorer that WietseWind uses for showing detailed wallet information triggered from his hyperlinks on Ledger Exposed. It's always wise to have multiple tools at your disposal in researching cryptocurrency, so I recommend bookmarking Bithomp if you haven't done so already. On Twitter: Bithomp
You Can Support Web Monetization - and XRP
Coil is accepting new accounts now, and the monetization of the Internet is imminent.
It may be a closely guarded secret for now, but that won't last for long. There is a growing movement among the world's citizenry to push back against the pervasive corrupting of our electronic devices and the technology we use to connect with each other. Web monetization not only leverages that movement, it incentivizes it.
I expect Coil to expand its services dramatically in a very short time, and it may lead to some unprecedented developments in fintech very quickly. If you thought Snapchat was big news... well, let's just say that Stefan Thomas and company could be sitting on what will be regarded as a groundswell of monetized web content.
For XRP owners, the choice could not be more simple; I've signed up for web monetization already. Those in the XRP Community should consider the situation carefully and evaluate how incredible this achievement is - do not underestimate what Coil is doing - and the potential to ignite an explosion of creativity supported by each of us.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Vek Labs