None of us is a 'natural' at social media.
We were not born with the innate skill set to quickly discern the value of content and weed out the trolls from those that want honest dialogue. This is an ability that each of us - no matter the platform you prefer - must develop on our own, through painful trial and error.
Social media is a relatively new phenomenon digitally, but it's had its counterpart in the brick-and-mortar world for some time now; golfing, sports clubs, newspapers in their various incarnations, and even church groups have been a part of informal exchange of valuable information.
These organizations still exist, of course, due to the fact that the older generation comprising their demographic still participates, but increasing numbers -worldwide - are turning to their mobile applications to efficiently connect with others, develop valuable contacts, and maintain information channels that could prove useful.
One concept, while pioneered by Twitter, has quickly spread like wildfire: The concept of a 'follow.'
On Twitter, the meaning of this connection is intuitive; it doesn't necessarily mean that you 'follow' that person's belief system or perspective. In fact, Twitter is responsible, perhaps, for single-handedly changing the meaning of that word in Western culture now; to 'follow' somebody on that platform indicates that you wish to be kept apprised of their communications, timeline, and who is interacting with them.
On other platforms like Reddit, there is the concept of 'friend.' On XRP Chat, the concept is also 'follow,' like it is on Twitter.
If you're new to social media, you may think that this list is unimportant, but it is actually a more powerful concept than you may realize, in a few specific ways:
- Those that you follow benefit from it
- Your choices can provide information you want
- Your choices can help promote valuable content
Firstly, those people that you follow benefit from being followed. Some of them are even able to monetize their influence; but more importantly, the volume attached to their messages grows as their follower count expands, helping them reach a wider audience. It's something you should be aware of when you're making your choices.
Of course, the obvious benefit from following somebody is that you get to hear what they have to say, and what they say may provide valuable and timely information. Let's face it: In crypto, the more quickly you learn of important industry developments, the more quickly that you may be able to react from an investment standpoint.
The concept that doesn't get enough attention, however, is that your choices can help promote specific content.
Have you noticed that some social media platforms seem to thrive on conflict? I've noticed this more than once; some viewers prefer conflict rather than straight-forward good news. It seems that social media platforms are taking a page from the new 'infotainment' bent of mainstream media, and are serving up ways for individuals to engage in a virtual repartee without the traditional politeness of an in-person debate.
You have the power to change this.
Once a month, I'll be profiling individuals in crypto and blockchain tech that I think are positive leaders that deserve a mention, and that you should consider to add to your 'follow' list. It's useful for all of us to share our own list of 'people to follow' if it results in higher-quality content that helps advance blockchain technology.
Instead of a bulleted list of names with no context, I'll focus in on a small number and provide a deep dive on some of these figures; hopefully it will spark discussion about how we can collectively change the tone of dialogue - on all communication platforms.
Who To Follow: Eva Kaili
As a member of the European Parliament, her legislative catalog shows a leader who has consistently championed the cause of blockchain technology, with an emphasis on how these innovations support the democratization of ownership rights.
While she participates in a number of topics, and even chairs a delegation related to NATO, it is in her capacity as a member of the "Committee on Industry, Research, and Energy" that she's brought attention to bear on the potential of blockchain technology. 1 2 In late September last year, she authored a 'Motion For a Resolution,' which was a twelve-page statement where she methodically laid out 78 points of action for the European Commission, which is under the supervision of the European Parliament. 3
I profiled this development and analyzed some of the specific points that Eva Kaili had made in that document. The resolution contained some comments that were, of course, specifically related to her role on the " Committee on Industry, Research, and Energy," but it also contained many other statements that emphasized the potential that financial innovations such as DLT could bring to the entire European Union.
This emphasis on the benefits of blockchain and distributed ledger technology may be what prompted Ripple to invite her to attend its "Ripple Regionals: Europe 2019" event this year. At that event, Monica Long, Ripple's SVP of Marketing, interviewed her about the blockchain resolution she authored, and asked about what prompted her to take that action:
Part of her response:
"I think it's really important to go beyond the hype that 'took over' a year ago, and be able to understand the real value of the technology; and this was what we tried to achieve in the European Parliament. So, I started working ... basically almost four years ago ... I was elected as a Greek representative.
After the (Greek) crisis, I realized that there was too much control of the central banks (over) our deposits and I thought that we should find the solution ...
... so I was exploring ... 'what could that be,' and ... the discussion seemed to be crazy, about Bitcoin and without any control of the banking sector; I saw that besides the philosophy, that there was actually a technology that could help us find new solutions.
I asked Parliament to have ... the virtual currency report - that tried to give some definitions - and the blockchain resolution; it took me, basically, three years to move them to even have an event in the Parliament. It was not easy, because the first thing you would say is 'you know, it's like the technology behind Bitcoin,' and you would have to explain that you're not working for the CIA or for a terrorist group ... After that, I managed to get the resolution (authored) and also talked one-to-one to all my colleagues that participated to explain every - and any - concern they had. I had to address that.
I had to follow events - like this one - to understand the technology and to be sure that they can actually not stop innovation ... but the opposite; to make sure that we will have a road-map to support this exciting technology.
So I think the resolution managed to be a very positive one."
Monica Long asked Eva Kaili to elaborate about the push for regulatory certainty for blockchain firms looking to do business in the EU as well, and asked about the next steps that the EU would be taking to provide a legal framework for DLT technology.
Eva Kaili mentioned the "Blockchain Observatory" and indicated that it would soon be transforming into something bigger. Intriguingly, She used that point to launch into a different and fascinating topic: That of artificial intelligence and smart contract automation.
"I think all sectors of our life will be transformed using these new technologies. But we ... need to protect investors and give legal certainty to the industry."
Later, when discussing some of the benefits of blockchain tech, Eva Kaili circled back to what originally motivated her to push for change:
"We can improve the lives of citizens. This is ... the main argument used to convince my colleagues to support this technology. They want to see how this can change our lives.
One of the main examples would be: We have $130 billion dollars' worth of hidden fees in Europe. How can we improve that? I would say that when you use blockchain for financial services, you can find smart solutions to avoid these fees.
I know Ripple is working towards this direction, of course."
She then referenced the debate at the Paris Fintech Forum between Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple's CEO and Gottfried Leibbrandt, SWIFT's CEO, and hinted that the EU would consider solutions like the ones Ripple is offering, and referenced the EU's need to see:
"good numbers for us; how this could improve transaction time, efficiency; how people can trust it more; how we can save time."
This comment is important, because it indicates a willingness on the part of European Parliament legislators to take stronger measures if it could be shown unequivocally that new technology could solve these problems in a transparent and demonstrable fashion.
Eva Kaili is now positioned to play a key leadership role within the European Parliament - and all of Europe - to champion the use of blockchain technology.
Based on what I've seen of her leadership, the results she's achieved, and her clear vision of the future for a Europe that benefits from new fintech innovations, I recommend that you 'follow' her on Twitter and on other social platforms.
The video content from some of the recent "Ripple Regionals" events have been making their way into Ripple's official YouTube channel; I took at a look at several of them as part of my research for today's blog; some of them are worth taking the time to view.
In case you are short on time, however, I've extracted some exemplary quotes from each presentation.
Euro Exim Bank
Euro Exim Bank made history in January with the official announcement that they would be pioneering the use of XRP for cross-border payments. 6
In a video released by Ripple on February 21st, Graham Bright, Euro Exim's Head of Compliance, explained how the bank benefits from the use of xRapid as opposed to the legacy sources of transaction settlement. The video was recorded at the "Ripple Regionals: Europe 2019" event:
The enthusiasm from Graham Bright was on display during this presentation, and you can plainly see how strongly he believes in Ripple's revolutionary technology. Here are two quotes from the event:
"Our business in trade finance is across 80 countries; exotic currencies; difficult-to-get-a-hold-of liquidity; so our challenge is to make sure that our customers can get fast, reliable, trusted, secure service.
So why did we choose xRapid?
We need our clients to be able to pay us in their local currency. It's very difficult for them to get a-hold of dollars in some of the jurisdictions in which we operate ...
Speed is absolutely important here; the speed of transmission; the speed of settlement; to understand how quickly we can move a transaction, in a trusted way, from one correspondent to another. "
"So what's next for us? I'm very interested in how we're going to be moving forward in the market; and how we're going to be taking a very specific lead here. We will - our plan - is to not only work with payments instructions, but to embed trade finance instructions inside a Ripple(Net) message ...
... apart from just the payment, and the actual amount and value of a payment, we will be embedding bills of lading; airway bills; the content of a letter of credit; a fund; a security; it could be any one of the current SWIFT messages for any one of the members of the whole financial infrastructure, who are then able to use a Ripple-style message to not only communicate bank-to-bank, but from one institution to any other institution on Ripple(Net).
Graham Bright paused for dramatic effect after that last statement, and no wonder: Many experienced bankers such as him have deep experience using the legacy SWIFT network, along with its associated pitfalls, error rates, and slow turnaround times.
Having the ability to use a set of tools that enable a bank to move money and settle a cross-border payment in real-time is something that SWIFT simply cannot do for most corridors. But for members of RippleNet, real-time settlement with rich messaging capabilities is an expectation of how cross-border payments should operate; it's just taking a bit of time for the world's banking infrastructure to catch up.
In addition to Euro Exim Bank's presentation at the "Ripple Regionals: Europe 2019" event, Alastair Constance, the Founder and Director of Mercury FX, a remittance company with offices in the UK, South Africa, and Hong Kong, provided his perspective on Mercury FX's experience in using XRP for cross-border settlement. The session was facilitated by Marcus Treacher, Ripple's SVP of Customer Success:
In reference to Mercury FX's use of the xRapid product, Alastair Constance noted:
"We've already had the Mexican channel open up. It is live. It is being used. And I think today or tomorrow we're testing the Philippines, with an eye towards going live within the next week or so."
"When you're looking at high-volume payments for companies involved in import-export, or remittances, or whatever the case may be, when you start to look at the economics of how they stack in favor of a Ripple(Net) payment, over xRapid, rather than SWIFT, the numbers are actually quite eye-watering."
Both Euro Exim Bank and Mercury FX have added their compelling reviews of using both RippleNet, and also the xRapid liquidity-sourcing product for cross-border payment settlement; when other banks step forward to join these two organizations, they should encounter the same benefits mentioned in granular detail by both parties.
Occasionally, creations by members of the XRP Community inspire the rest of us in surprising ways. Specifically, I've been awestruck by some of the graphical creations of various individuals, whether they be professional-grade movies, works of art, or even XRP memorabilia such as stickers or socks.
On February 23rd, @LeoHadjiloizou (Twitter handle) published a graphic that was a fascinating perspective on the entire XRP ecosystem of stakeholders and participants, and then shared it via Twitter:
The graphic breaks down the major participants in XRP's ecosystem, dividing them into various categories, including:
- Money Transfer (xRapid)
- xRapid Exchanges
- Bill Payments
- Crypto Cards
- Custody / Wallets
Do any of these categories surprise you? Did you already know about the companies where you could use your XRP to book travel? How about the sites where you can pay your bills using crypto?
Regardless if you personally knew about all of these XRP ecosystem participants or not, the graphic is a handy tool to be able to share with others that may be interested in seeing the entire XRP ecosystem 'at-a-glance.' Thanks to @LeoHadjiloizou for showing the initiative to create this share-able reference point for the XRP Community.
Bithomp Adds Price Alerts
One of the most popular third-party sites for exploring the XRP Ledger is Bithomp. Its user interface has surged in popularity compared to that of the traditional "XRP Charts" account explorer, due to the fact that Bithomp seems to lean towards presenting XRP Ledger information in human-friendly format, with as much rich contextual information as they can fit understandably into one page.
In addition to its popular account explorer, there are many other tools that the site maintains, and its code is open-source, available on Github.
On February 18th, Bithomp sent out a tweet that described a new service that they'd be offering - free of charge - for those that wish to use it:
This particular price alert operates via a programmable 'Twitter bot' that will send out tweets if the price changes by more than 5% in one hour, or 10% in one day. To benefit from Bithomp's Twitter alerts, just 'follow' their automated account on Twitter: @BithompAlerts
Coinbase Pro is the "exchange portion" of the Coinbase ecosystem. While the Coinbase main website serves as a fiat on-ramp with direct fiat-to-crypto purchasing and selling, the Coinbase Pro site is a full-service crypto exchange, and currently ranks approximately 40th in global volume levels.
The exchange went through a high-profile name change in May of 2018, changing from "GDAX" to "Coinbase Pro."
On February 25th, Coinbase Pro announced that they'd be adding support for XRP, along with direct fiat pairings against the US Dollar and the Euro:
The announcement linked to a blog that contained more information about the launch, which started the same day as the announcement, with the exchange allowing customers to 'transfer-in' XRP to their Coinbase Pro account.
The blog also contained the following statement:
"Please also note that XRP is not yet available on Coinbase.com or via our mobile apps. We will make a separate announcement when that occurs."
The news was a surprise, and the market reacted quickly and positively to the announcement, sending XRP prices higher as of the time of this writing.
A Coinbase listing has been something that the XRP Community has strongly desired for some time. It is welcome news, and I'm curious to see how much Coinbase Pro increases in its trading volume as a result of their decision; their daily volume when I wrote this blog was somewhere around $120 million. Bitcoin currently comprises most of that volume, with about $45 million in daily volume.
If I'm correct, the XRP listing will result in a measurable increase in trading.
In addition to the listing on Coinbase Pro, the language in the blog may portend a listing on Coinbase's fiat-to-crypto on-ramp site as well; it will be interesting to see what Coinbase's next steps will be, along with the volume impact due to the new listing.
Thanks to Coinbase Pro for listing XRP: It undoubtedly adds an important and significant new liquidity end-point for the XRP network.
This is notable because Eurex is not a 'crypto company,' but is instead a mainstream retail investment platform owned by its parent company, Deutsche Börse, a German stock exchange.
No dates were given in the articles reporting on the Eurex expansion plans.
From the standpoint of mainstream financial adoption, this development is one more data point in a series of developments that seem to indicate that traditional exchanges and retail investing platforms are entering the cryptomarket.
OKEx, the second-largest crypto exchange by volume, announced on February 22nd that it had added both XRP and Bitcoin Cash to its 'customer-to-customer' (C2C) platform:
The other part of the announcement worth noting is that the initial pairings included five fiat-XRP pairings; it's always great to add more fiat-to-crypto on-ramps to the list for XRP, and OKEx currently reports a massive amount of trade volume.
In terms of large exchanges, it's always good to see XRP be listed on additional end-points; I'm curious to hear further about the volume associated with OKEx's C2C solution, and whether it will be able to compete effectively against some of the other decentralized trade platforms that are due to start competing with it this year.
The @CrypToe_Man (Twitter avatar) is a UK-based entrepreneur that offers crypto-related memorabilia and merchandise online, and is specifically known for his socks, especially after Brad Garlinghouse was seen wearing a pair during an AMA session on August 22nd of last year. 9
On February 24th, @CrypToe_Man indicated that he was making one of his original XRP paintings available via prints in various sizes:
As part of these prints, he's also choosing to donate 10% of all sales to an XRP Charity of your choice, with the caveat that you have to choose one of the 'Good Souls Group' charities, represented by the following Twitter accounts: 10
This is a win-win for many in the XRP Community, as it facilitates the purchase of limited-availability "XRP art," and also helps a charity of their choice.
Choose Carefully Who You Follow
Even for those of us that don't have the time to play an active role in market dynamics, whether it's because of other time commitments, or because our skill set and interests lie elsewhere, there is something that you can do with very little effort: Follow the right people.
On Twitter; on Facebook; on Reddit; on Discord; on XRP Chat; on virtually any social media platform; you can choose who to 'follow' and support.
This will benefit you from two perspectives: It will allow you to be kept apprised of new communications from these individuals, and you are also using your 'follow' to signal support of that person.
Whether you realize it or not, what you choose to view - and respond to - online is actually affecting and creating the future. While new-age platitudes such as 'focus on positivity' may not always be effective in the brick-and-mortar world, this sentiment is absolutely powerful when applied to your digital presence online.
- Do you respond to click-bait tweets from accounts trying to antagonize an entire group?
- Do you click on links without thinking, if you see a disturbing headline?
If so, you may want to think about the fact that what you give attention to can actually strengthen the very thing that you wish to combat; it's a counter-intuitive realization for most. But when we realize that we have choices as 'digital consumers' of content, we can effectively use our clicks and attention to reward the positive developments for our causes, and can counter or otherwise diminish the destructive influence of intentionally-malicious actors on Twitter and elsewhere.
Even if you are busy and can only participate passively on social media, you still have power.
Remember to carefully consider which voices online you are strengthening, merely by the act of 'following' them or replying or retweeting. You can, even passively, help accelerate the growth and adoption of digital assets: Focus on - and follow - the voices and the leaders that are starting to be recognized worldwide as champions of the Internet of Value.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Mārtiņš Zemlickis
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