There's a reason that the phrase 'information is power' developed in the business world. Information about your competitors, the market, your customers... all of that is valuable data that can mean the difference between fantastic success and stagnant results.
It also applies to investors.
In the traditional financial markets, an entire industry of news programs, pundits, online magazines, conferences, books, and yes - even blogs - have risen to provide information to those that need it. This is a direct result of investors' need for accurate and timely information about the market and the opportunities they are betting on with their hard-earned money.
And in crypto, it's all about the digital asset. In the case of XRP, we track several things related to its use cases, its adoption, and the speculation surrounding those first two factors. And it's with XRP where we have, along with the greatest use cases, some of the most mysterious unknowns.
Whether it's Silicon Valley drama, new global crypto exchanges springing up, or the creation of currently-unknown economies, there is really no way to foresee how things will look one year from now; all we have is the starting point, which is now. And you may be unaware of some very significant developments that are about to happen - with Ripple, with Coil, and perhaps even with project(s) that specific community developers have been involved with.
I have some ideas about these topics, and will share my observations later in this blog; for now, suffice it to say that I believe the second SWELL conference was only the beginning.
Less than two weeks after the formal announcement of the lobbying group "Securing America's Internet of Value Coalition," an official website was established to organize the effort and centralize publicly-available information about the group's efforts with regards to legislation:
The coalition members are currently comprised of five organizations associated with Ripple, Coil, or Ripple investors: 1
- Coil (Stefan Thomas is a co-founder)2
- Hard Yaka (Greg Kidd is a co-founder) 3
- PolySign (Arthur Britto is a founder) 4
- RippleWorks (Chris Larsen is a co-founder) 5
The group is contracting with the lobbying firm of Klein/Johnson Group to represent its interests in Washington DC, which is a step that mirrors recent actions taken by other businesses in the cryptomarket. 6
World Trade Organization Highlights Ripple Tech
The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established in 1995 to oversee and assist with forming trade agreements between various countries and economic regions of the world. It mediates disputes and documents the specifics of tariffs and cross-border business policies. The organization is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, which also hosts one of the four major global offices of the United Nations.
The organization publishes papers on an annual basis on topics that affect global commerce: An XRP Community member recently reviewed a document titled "The Future of World Trade: How Digital Technologies are Transforming Global Commerce" that was released after being withheld for internal review.
The document methodically analyzes different aspects of how international commerce could be affected by trends in digital technology, and the topics were quite diverse, covering robotic-led inventory systems, artificial intelligence, and the impact on global trade from 3-D printing. The document also covered the impact from digital currencies and how they can be used to accelerate global commerce, and discussed how Ripple technology can improve cross-border transactions:
"Another US-based company, Ripple, has ambitions to circumvent the correspondent banking model through its distributed ledger platform. It gives banks the ability to convert funds directly into different currencies in a matter of seconds and at little to no cost, without relying on correspondent banks."
The introduction of Ripple technology in the document was an impressive mention by the authors, who have obviously done some fairly in-depth research into the topics presented. The document also went on to describe how digital technologies could assist in supporting the goals of the WTO, outlined in its "What We Stand For" statement. This mention was the latest in a string of high-profile acknowledgments of Ripple technology by internationally-scoped governmental, business and regulatory organizations.
iRemit is a remittance company based in the Philippines. It's been in business since 2001, and has branches throughout the world, including North America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and Asia. 7 Customers can send money by creating an online account, or by visiting a brick-and-mortar office. 8
The company allows people to use an online service called 'iRemitX' to link their bank account for a transfer. Their services are popular, grossing an estimated $15.5 billion so far, and they've reported substantial growth in their operations over the past year. The company attributes is growth to money sent by Filipinos living and working throughout all parts of the globe, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, the UK, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. 9
The latest news is that iRemit decided to partner with Ripple in August of this year. They provided this quote to the Manila Times: 10
“The adoption of the technology will drive down transaction cost, enhance speed and scale, and minimize fraud vulnerability ...
... The iRemit-Ripple collaboration is one of iRemit’s pivotal strategies in achieving industry formidability(sic) via digital transformation geared towards boosting customer happiness."
This is yet another massive remittance processor that is implementing xCurrent, Ripple's payment communications solution, and usually we've seen that remittance processors also opt to eventually try out xRapid for further cost reduction across borders. It will be interesting to see if iRemit opts to implement xRapid as well, once it gets started with xCurrent processing.
The company specializes in compliance solutions for banks and financial services companies that strive to comply with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of Europe, and other region-specific regulatory frameworks such as the California Consumer Privacy Act. 13 14 In addition to Ripple, the company is also partnered with WordPress and Microsoft. 15
On October 4th, the company sent out an official press release about a new product that extends its blockchain solutions product with features such as "Data Repository Owner Identification" and optical character recognition (OCR).
While not crystal clear to me, my guess is that Ripple is teaming with this company to complete its go-to-market approach for banks that wish to utilize the XRP Ledger for settlement within the xRapid solution. Data443 would be an ideal company to partner with in this respect, to conform to privacy requirements from banks and regulators.
Blockchain Week in San Francisco
The 'Bay Area Community' is hosting an event called 'Blockchain Week,' officially listed as running from Friday, October 5th through Friday, October 12th. 16 17 The conference website states that its goal is to:
"... provide world-class education for both consumers and developers with the goal of pushing the boundaries of blockchain innovation. The focus of this week-long, immersive experience is to help the industry reach mainstream adoption through fundamental education and engagement with projects leading the way."
Among the list of speakers will be the co-creator of the Interledger Protocol (ILP), Evan Schwartz, a leading Ripple Engineer, and Ethan Beard, Ripple's Senior Vice President of the Xpring Initiative. Each will be speaking about different topics: Evan Schwartz will be speaking about "Layer 1 vs. Layer 2: Scalability," along with four other panelists: 18
And Ethan Beard will be discussing "Building Open-Source Communities" along with panelists from other companies that are investing in new businesses:
The entire week contains many of the major companies that currently comprise the blockchain space, and I'm guessing that there will be some great content eventually making its way to wider audiences via YouTube.
New Blog by Evan Schwartz
On October 3rd, Evan Schwartz published a new blog titled "Interledger: How to Interconnect All Blockchains and Value Networks."
It's a remarkable blog, because it caters to the crowd of Internet developers that may not have a lot of experience with cryptography or even cryptocurrency topics, and communicates the concepts of ILP in a way that mirrors how the Internet routes requests. This standardization of ILP and its concepts have the effect of greatly reducing the energy required to understand the underlying concepts.
Evan Schwartz gives a very brief introduction where he nods to how Codius was the driving force behind the creation of a 'tokenless' network that could route payments between ledgers; he also gives some air time to the differences between ILP Version 1 and ILP Version 2, and describes an innovative change in Version 2 known as "packetizing value," which is akin to breaking up larger transactions into smaller ones that can be routed more efficiently over the network.
For those wanting to get their hands dirty with some ILP development, this blog clarifies challenging topics in a way that is understandable to even an ordinary web developer. It's a great addition to the documentation for ILP, because often official documentation tends to be technically correct while missing the mark of understand-ability.
Remember the title of this blog? I won't make you scroll up: It was "What we don't know."
One of those things is which projects has Ripple has been investing in behind the scenes as part of their Xpring program, whereby Ripple will: 19
"... invest in, incubate, acquire and provide grants to companies and projects run by proven entrepreneurs. Every entrepreneur will use the digital asset XRP and the XRP Ledger, the open-sourced, decentralized technology behind XRP, to solve their customers’ problems in a transformative way."
It was the middle of May when Ripple unveiled this initiative, and since then, we haven't had insight into all of the various projects that were provided capital or resources.
It's fair to say that Ripple has the ability to inject significant capital into projects that it thinks may speed adoption of XRP. And under the Xpring initiative, Ripple has set aside a material amount of resources for just that.
They also assigned Ethan Beard as the SVP to lead Xpring, and announced some projects that would be wrapped up under that umbrella, including efforts by Scooter Braun, Stefan Thomas (Coil), Thomas McLeod (Omni), and Bart and Brad Stephens (Blockchain Capital).
As Ripple stays focused on payments with a laser-like intensity, and other Xpring projects pursue what could result in large niche use cases for XRP, the great unknown is what other projects wait in the wings. What has Ripple added to the list already? What other extraordinary projects await that could supercharge adoption of XRP, or prompt interest from mainstream investors?
This is one of the great unknowns for XRP, and while it's easy for those in the crypto space to be blind to what they cannot see, it's wise for XRP owners to be cognizant of the perhaps-intentional de-emphasis around Xpring over the last few months. In my experience, Brad Garlinghouse and the team members at Ripple are always thinking three steps ahead, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear more about some of these new business ventures ... and I also wouldn't be surprised if they end up injecting an ample supply of excitement - and perhaps even fun - into the mix.
Money Tap is the Japanese Bank Consortium (JBC)-created mobile application that will allow real-time domestic payments within the country of Japan; I've recently highlighted some of the developments around that application, along with how SBI Ripple Asia demonstrated the application at a recent conference.
The Money Tap application was soft-launched with a subgroup of the Japanese Banking Consortium on October 3rd: 20
In addition to the Twitter notification, SBI published an official press release in Japan announcing the launch, and indicated that the initial roll-out would be with three banks:
- Sumishin SBI Net Bank
- Suruga Bank
- Resona Bank
The release of Money Tap is a phenomenal development for residents of Japan, and in my estimation will not need much advertising as consumers start to talk to each other. This is because Japanese end-users are currently limited in their payment capabilities, even for domestic transfers. Currently, individuals that transfer amounts using the "Zengin" domestic payments system (used for payments of less than 100 million JPY and owned by the Japanese Bankers Association 21) are charged approximately $3 dollars, and real-time transfers are restricted to those occurring before 3 p.m. each day. 22
Money Tap, by contrast, is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The application is available on Android or IOS operating systems, and consumers can send money by phone number or QR code. It's free to use for daily remittances totaling less than 100,000 yen ($900). 23 24
It's hard to beat 'free,' and it's also difficult to compete with 24 X 7 availability. It will be interesting to watch if the Money Tap application can increase the daily limits to include higher-value transfers. For Money Tap, it's not a question of 'if' but only of 'when' they will take over domestic payments.
On September 28th, Stefan Thomas, one of the founders of Coil, published an update about his company's progress.
Coil began what it termed 'closed beta testing' at the beginning of September, and the update he provided in the latest blog indicated that the response was very positive, with more than 500 websites and YouTube channels becoming web monetized via a Coil subscription. Stefan Thomas then provided a link to a new directory of Coil-enabled sites for those curious about who is signing up:
I recognized some familiar names in the XRP Community as well, which was great to see. I can't wait until Coil activates payments for the wider user group - me included - so we can actively show our support for these sites.
Stefan Thomas ended the update on a positive note, acknowledging the desire for the community to move on to the next stage, and indicating a new focus for the Coil team:
"...very soon we want to show how Web Monetization can improve your browsing experience. Stay tuned!"
While it's exciting that content creators can now be actively rewarded - in real time - with web monetization, I'm also intrigued by the reference to 'browsing experience,' which may indicate a number of possibilities, perhaps more than just the unconscious absence of irritating web advertising.
XRP News Items: ForEx Now Rushing to XRP
In a recent blog just before SWELL, I covered one of the first ForEx platforms to go live with XRP, called FX Choice. For FX Choice, their announcement was provided with the caveat that they allow funding of their accounts with cryptocurrency, but they did not facilitate direct trading.
It turns out that other ForEx platforms have also suddenly swiveled to examine XRP and add it to their platforms. A member of XRP Chat listed these ForEx platforms bullet-point style in a post, and I've confirmed that, indeed, three more need to be added to the list. 25 It's now verified:
Cautionary note: Although ForEx exchanges adding XRP to their platforms is exciting, and definitely invites more capital to participate, in many cases the underlying assets are derivatives, not necessarily impacting the buying and selling of the referenced cryptocurrency in a direct one-to-one fashion. It's not entirely clear how the settlement of each of these derivative products interacts with the targeted cryptocurrency.
Crypto.com is a multi-service mobile platform that offers a combination of services; They have a cryptocurrency wallet, and also offer support for a Visa card. The company that owns and runs Crypto.com is headquartered in Hong Kong. 28
On October 3rd, the site announced that they would be adding support for XRP to their wallet: 29
While the team is still working through its 2018 road-map, the release of the Crypto.com app on Android and IOS was one of their major steps. According to their site, the app allows users to:
"Buy, sell and send 7 fiat and 6 cryptocurrencies. Access, manage and spend your funds with the MCO Visa Card anytime ... Top up with a bank transfer, debit or credit card, or crypto ... Buy crypto with fiat wallet or with a credit card."
The site is relatively new, so there's not much known about their customer base thus far, and I'm assuming that the team is starting with a smaller number based on participants in their ICO. However, it's a service that may gain momentum as more mainstream users find their way to some of these convenient mobile apps.
I appreciate their support of XRP 'right out of the gate' as it were.
On a related, and by now, famous twist to the story of crypto.com, it's well-known in the cryptocurrency space that the famous domain name belonged - up until just a few months ago - to Matt Blaze, a person who registered the site as far back as 1993, if you can believe it. Even more interesting was the fact that Matt Blaze was always very clear that his site did not have anything to do with cryptocurrencies. 30 However, he was a proponent of cryptography generally, noting: 31
“Encryption technology is the key to the future of the information revolution ...
... it allows businesses and individuals to communicate securely over any inexpensive communication platform without fear of eavesdropping.”
I think most of us in the cryptocurrency space can agree with his perspective.
He sold his domain name for an undisclosed amount of money to the organizers of the Monaco ICO and they have now re-branded their organization to reflect the name of the purchased site, "Crypto.com." 32
The Mysterious Future of XRP
There are many unknowns for those of us that consider ourselves part of the 'XRP Community' in the coming months, but the natural human reaction to fear them should instead be transformed into excitement.
Like a mathematician hoping to arrive at the correct equation to describe a function, we must 'solve for X' as time unfolds, looking at the data points as they are unveiled: What will be the next steps for Coil? What businesses will Xpring invest in & will it include community-driven projects such as a crypto wallet application or an innovative 'IoT meets IoV' application?
And how many businesses and banks will implement xRapid, learning quickly that being an innovator contains the possibility of material rewards and not just risk?
And now that ILP Version 2 has been published, which businesses and financial services companies will be the first to leverage it for streaming payments and creating next-generation derivative products for real-world business?
While most reading this sentence have already investigated the characteristics of XRP and determined that it's the most effective digital asset for payments, those that are new to crypto should strongly consider the variables I just listed - the 'unknowns' - as 2018 closes out the year and the world starts to accelerate with greater speed towards the use of digital assets; for central banks, for transferring value across borders, and for creating entirely new asset classes and economies.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Rob Bates