When cryptocurrency was in its infancy, there were only a few exchanges where somebody could convert their fiat money.
This affected the trading of most new digital assets, as liquidity corridors and endpoints are very important to the overall value of a network. A mathematical expression known as Metcalf's Law provides a scientific basis for network valuation. 1 While Metcalf's Law was originally used to describe how the value of a network to one stakeholder is directly proportional to the number of other users on the network,2 some part of this concept (arguably) must also apply to the liquidity in a digital asset network; i.e., the potential value of a digital asset is linked in some respects to how many on-ramps there are to that network, distributed throughout various global jurisdictions.
Intuitively we know this is true, because new traders and speculators seem to reward a coin's debut on a large exchange.
In the case of XRP, its global reach not only has expanded, but that expansion is accelerating: Less than one year ago, I inventoried all of the known worldwide exchanges that carried XRP, and arrived at approximately 29 exchanges. 3 And recently, I again took inventory of the number of XRP exchanges and entry points, and the number was 105 and growing quickly. 4 This represents more than a 300% increase in the number liquidity endpoints in less than a year, with some of the new entrants representing milestones in Ripple's overall xRapid roll-out strategy.
This expansion has also been paralleled with progress on the number of highly-used applications on the network, including social media applications, peer-to-peer payment applications, and Coil's soft roll-out of web monetization. Soon, xRapid will join the list, beginning what is predicted to be the next generation of cross-border value transfer between banks, remittance companies, large corporates, and individuals.
The speed and depth of XRP's expansion is far and above that of any other digital asset, and it's the only one that is now stepping into real-world business applications that solve some of the most entrenched business problems for the last thirty years.
Naspers is a South African ecommerce and media conglomerate based in Cape Town. It's an old company that's changed over the years, and it boasts some $5 billion dollars in revenue each year. 5 Naspers, in turn, owns PayU, a Netherlands-based payment technology company. 6
And PayU technology facillitates global merchants to process payments from customers as they transact online. 7 PayU operates in Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa.
The Chief Commercial Officer at PayU recently communicated a glowing review of Ripple's cross-border solutions in an interview with an online magazine called "PaymentEye." 8 The interview's recording has been broadcast by that news outlet, and can be accessed directly on SoundCloud here. 9 Some of the quotes from Matthias Setzer, PayU's Chief Commercial Officer, include: 10
"Ripple is maybe the one player that has helped blockchain technologies & cryptocurrencies come into the real world, because they have a real value proposition for banks, and even for companies like ours, potentially, to help manage and facilitate cross-border payments..."
"...A number of the other cryptocurrencies are still looking for a use case, strictly speaking... Ethereum: There's a list of one hundred-and-eighty-something, whatever the number is, use cases - don't quote me on the exact number, but something like that. Potentially. The reality is very different (for Ethereum). It's close to -0- what the real use cases are, except for speculation, which for a trader is a real use case, but for everybody else, it's not. I'm talking about managing payments for real businesses that want to make a living and grow their business; they need to pay employees and vendors.
And in that part of the real world, Ripple is the only one that has made these inroads in a significant way - and great respect for that! The company absolutely should be watched."
There is something to be said for this quote; it's a very astute difference in perception by those in the real business world between a fascinating blockchain experiment and a real-world business solution that can handle global scalability. This statement is but one example of many of the increasing profile of Ripple's payment solutions.
Ripple released a new video on August 30th titled "Small and Medium Enterprise Payments," which details how xCurrent directly solves three significant pain points for these mid-sized enterprises:
Ripple has recently shifted its marketing to a higher-precision approach: Diving from a high-level description of Ripple's software solutions down to a lower level of detail that addresses specific problems for businesses and individuals. This connection between the two demonstrates the measurable benefits of technology adoption.
This video continued in that trend, and talked specifically about how Accounts Payable (A/P) departments of small-and-medium-size enterprises (SMEs) could solve many of the problems that currently absorb much of their time and add significant costs to paying suppliers and vendors in other countries. The problems were concisely summarized:
- No Data Attached (not possible to attach invoices to a payment)
- Low Transparency (Unknown costs of the payment)
- No Traceability (Unknown arrival time for payment)
Membership in RippleNet solves these problems for companies, and provides the ability to solve each of these problems through implementation of xCurrent. The main benefits for adopting xCurrent were summarized at the end:
- Rich Data Attached (Invoice attached for easy reconciliation)
- End-to-end Transparency (Total costs known in advance)
- Complete Certainty (real-time settlement)
It's a powerful value proposition for SMEs, and the main point to note may be a surprise for some: Ripple is not only targeting large companies and banks: They are also providing a competitive advantage for small-and-medium-sized businesses to streamline their internal operations and reduce their payment processing costs to a fraction of their current level.
That's innovation that business can use.
Interview with David Schwartz
C++ Chat is a YouTube channel that caters to C++ developer topics. Some readers may not know this, because technology tends to be a black box for many traders and consumers, but the XRP Ledger was written in C++, which is one of the most efficient and fast computer languages. In addition, David Schwartz, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Ripple, has, on occasion, presented at C++ conferences about the work he's done with Ripple and others.
On August 26th, C++ Chat interviewed him:
David Schwartz provided an overview of Ripple from its beginning days, and then also indicated how XRP and Bitcoin are different. He compared the rise of Bitcoin to the creation of the Ford model T from various technologies that existed prior to its design, and then connected it to today's world of cryptocurrencies and digital assets:
"...but we don't all drive around in model T's. We have sports cars, and we have trucks and tankers, and we have cars that are optimized for different use cases. XRP was the first cryptocurrency that optimized for a use case - and that use case is payments."
I don't know how David Schwartz does it, but he again is able to eloquently and succinctly provide an intuitive description of XRP's history in a few sentences.
Even better, later on in the video, he discusses new financial use cases that may result from XRP's ecosystem:
"Look at Internet traffic. Internet traffic today is thousands and thousands of times what it was in the past. It's not because we're doing more of what we used to do; it's because we're doing things that are completely different. Like...Netflix couldn't have existed in the past: You have to have an Internet that has some absurd level of traffic capability for Netflix to exist.
... what are the payments that aren't happening today because the existing payment systems can't handle them? They're too expensive or too slow. That's where the growth is going to come from. Yeah, it's great to do today's payments faster and cheaper, but if you want to ... grow the market and grow the economy and improve things, you need to make things so much faster and so much cheaper, that you can have, sort of, ubiquitous payments.
If I walk through my neighborhood, there's probably all kinds of stuff going on, on the Internet, as I walk by: Motion detectors, cameras... Can you imagine if there were thousands and thousands of payments going on in the background? You might pull up a web page, and it might pay for its micro-hosting for that very web page."
The discussion then centered on web monetization, which is an interesting and growing conversation that's happening across the Internet mind-space. David Schwartz summarized the potential of both web monetization - and micropayments - this way:
"It's hard to imagine what the future use cases will be; but I think that ubiquitous micropayments - where payments are essentially instant and essentially free - like on the order of the cost and time of a DNS query... it's going to change the world."
I had to resist the urge to construct a transcript of the entire interview: The hour-long session provided insight into how agreement works in XRP consensus, along with some of the mathematical philosophy underpinning the protocol. Some of the topics were quite heady, and if you happen to also be a C++ developer, then this video is a definite must-watch. However, even for lay-people and business viewers, this video also provides some valuable insight into the technical underpinnings of decentralized networks.
In my one of my recent blogs, I covered the debut of the first version of Coil's service to those that would like to sign up for web monetization. This included an introduction of their service for both consumers - those that would like to sign up to pay content creators - and for the content hosts.
For those that would like another detailed perspective from a third party, an XRP fan recently provided descriptions of some of the nuts-and-bolts facets around Coil and the first iteration of its service:
In addition to Thomas's multi-tweet, interested readers can also research the available Coil documentation at the following links:
In the introductory section about Coil within my recent blog, I didn't dive too deeply into some of the initial social media and account linkages that Coil is aiming to support; one of these includes Twitch, a highly-used social gaming website where gamers can stream real-time videos of their game-play. One XRP Community member noted the immense audience for some of these Twitch streams, and was quick to point out the potential with this particular option:
While Coil hasn't yet activated the payment portion of their service, the number of people signing up in advance of this milestone is increasing each day; as an XRP Community member, you can help spread the word to others in social media - to both consumers and content creators - that web monetization is on its way.
Balance is a crypto fund management firm based in Canada. It offers a variety of cryptocurrencies, including XRP:11 12
While it's been described as a fund and institutional custody service, it also indicates that it's targeting the market of retail investors looking for a similar level of support offered by other exchanges that contain these services: 13
"Our mission is to build and give you the kind of tools that would normally be available only to institutional and big corporate players. Whereas some of our competitors don’t pick up the phone for less than 5 million, our proprietary tooling enables us to serve you for any amount over $5,000. You get the same quality of service and protections. We’re here to empower you, and bring trust and legitimacy to the ecosystem."
Their online marketing boasts of "Military grade security," and "dedicated support...within minutes."
In 2018, we've seen a number of new businesses offering custody solutions spring up, which is an encouraging sign for cryptocurrency, generally. In addition, the more institutional custody solutions in existence within various countries such as Canada, the easier it will be for financial businesses to step into cryptocurrency and manage their risk.
Alteum is a new exchange that was funded and started by an ICO, which ended in March of this year. 14 The exchange's goal is to specifically cater to and serve the Latin American market of crypto investors. While the ICO's whitepaper contained references to a variety of objectives and efforts, including their own investment fund and token, the exchange seems to be the centerpiece of their business effort, and it is up and running.15 16
And on August 30th, the team announced that they would be adding support for XRP trading:
It's worth noting that the exchange offers Mexican Peso (MXN) pairings with XRP, so it counts as one additional Latin American fiat end-point for XRP's growing liquidity reach.
Coinspot is a cryptocurrency exchange based in Australia, and has supported XRP trading for some time now, as well as trading in various other cryptocurrencies. On August 29th, the exchange announced that it was reducing its trading fees to .1% on all "market orders," and then followed this announcement up with a tweet sent out specifically to those interested in trading XRP:
When I last took inventory, the number of worldwide exchanges supporting XRP exceeded one hundred; in addition, many of these exchanges are now opting to add direct XRP-fiat currency support, which is a departure from how crypto trading was done in the past.
XRP allows ultra-fast, three-second transfers of value into and out of exchanges, and crypto traders prefer to act fast when market conditions change. Coinspot's lowering of fees in coordination with the addition of direct AUD - XRP support indicates that they not only see this trend, but that they are acting to leverage it to their own benefit.
Ellipal is a hardware wallet provider based in Hong Kong. 20 In August of this year, they released their first wallet, and formally announced it via social media.
It currently supports a limited number of cryptocurrencies, and does not include XRP, but Ellipal recently indicated via Twitter direct message that:
"...our plan is to be able to support XRP by early Q4."
This news alone is exciting, and the team indicated they'd be following up with further information in the near future. This means that one more hardware wallet has either added, or is planning to add, support for XRP owners. In the general category of crypto custody, this provides one more option for those wanting secure storage.
NOTE: I don't personally endorse any specific wallet - please do your own due diligence.
Swaplab is a cryptocurrency service based in the United Kingdom (UK). It bills itself as a "non-custodial, accountless" service, and it works to automatically exchange one cryptocurrency for another, for those willing to send their crypto to the exchange: 17 18
The service announced on August 28th that they were adding XRP support for automatic conversions of one cryptocurrency for another, and as you can see, they use a conversion from Ethereum to XRP in their instructional video. 19
This service is fast and convenient for those that wish to quickly transform their value into XRP without having to go through an exchange verification process - it speeds up XRP liquidity and also acts as a fast-acting channel for when large numbers of people have flooded "account-based" exchanges with applications.
We can now add Swaplab to the list of worldwide XRP exchanges.
Fast Expansion for the King of the Use Cases
While many cryptocurrencies can boast additional numbers of exchanges and liquidity endpoints due to cryptocurrency's rise in global popularity, only a select number address real-world business problems and pain points like XRP. And among that select group, only XRP leads all its competitors in scalability, settlement time, and security.
XRP will be used by banks, remittance companies, corporates, and individuals to transfer value worldwide.
And even more intriguing, we've now seen the advent of the production roll-out of Coil, which is streaming payments using XRP's first-layer micropayments capability. Coil's use case may be unfamiliar to some in the technology world, but David Schwartz said it best in his recent interview:
"I think that ubiquitous micropayments - where payments are essentially instant and essentially free - like on the order of the cost and time of a DNS query... it's going to change the world."
The liquidity of XRP is accelerating, along with its usage in production-ready applications that solve real business problems and enable entire new markets and assets. The world's citizens, governments and businesses are on the cusp of realizing that the tools for supercharging global commerce have arrived.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to NASA