XRP: Effecting Change and Leading Digital Asset Adoption

Hodor

Hodor

I blog about Ripple & XRP. FULL DISCLOSURE: All views are my own. I do not work for Ripple; I am not a professional financial analyst, and the majority of my crypto holdings are XRP.

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Each of us has their own strategy on how to get results;  but consistently, one of the most powerful techniques is to use visualization.  

When a sports competitor visualizes themselves on the medal stand, or a coach imagines what it would feel like to be drenched in an entire bucket of Gatorade, they are using one of the most tried-and-true techniques for effecting change.   Because the first step to changing something in your environment is to visualize the outcome you want - while it's always good to 'work hard,' diving in and struggling is sometimes not as successful as when we take a moment to imagine what we're trying to achieve.   This also applies to XRP, and the transformation of the new digital economy.  

A visual depiction of the Internet of Value is difficult for some people.  

What would a world look like that 'runs on Ripple technology,' for example?   What would a world look like that settles payments using XRP as a bridge currency?   Some of these concepts, such as a vastly increased velocity of money, are scientific & economic reality just as sure as the periodic table, but getting people to understand it is a struggle:  Even iconic leaders of finance have, at times, shown their inability to understand what blockchain technology could do to transform the current state of banking and finance.   Whether you consider this struggle part and parcel of innovation adoption, or consider it to be a symptom of the natural, human 'resistance to change,' we can see that it's a challenge not just for XRP, but for blockchain technology generally.  

You've probably seen examples of what works to help people understand some of these concepts.   When you attempt to talk to family or friends about XRP, my guess is that they clearly see your enthusiasm, but may not fully understand why this technology is so different than what's come before it.  

To help these same people understand 'why XRP,' they have to understand the current inefficiencies in the financial market.   This is where things like Ripple's recent 'TV Commercial' come in handy:

Using crypto-assets will address the problem that is artfully and comedically shown in their one-minute video.   The video is only one of many tools that Ripple uses to communicate some of these complex topics: Brad Garlinghouse points out historical comparisons, such as what happened to the number of communications when people were given a new technological option to send messages for almost-zero cost, and in real time (email or text) versus physical correspondence.  

Whatever your technique, know that you are helping others to see the future.  

And when we 'see' the future of the cryptomarket, we should not compromise.   Collectively, we must visualize XRP solidly where it needs to be - where it should be - at many multiples of its current market capitalization, leading the cryptomarket to new heights from the primary spot on the charts.   And we should also help others 'see' the benefit of banks, remittance processors and large corporates sourcing liquidity for settlement using digital assets.  

Like an elite competitor in a sports competition, if we take a moment to envision our goal, it can help organize our tangible efforts to help make the Internet of Value a reality.  

Ripple News

"Unbound" is a series of technology festivals that take place roughly five times throughout the year at different locations.   The purpose of the conference series, in the words of its planners, is to: 1

"...  connect brands and corporates with disruptive technology, products and services...  

By connecting brands and corporates with disruptive technology, products and services, unbound helps organizations innovate, remain competitive and grow.  Unbound festivals are specifically designed to connect brands and corporations with start-ups and the cutting edge technology that they offer."

It sounds a bit corporate, but the subject matter was unabashedly cutting-edge, tackling tough topics like the impact of technology on education, democracy, and finance.  2

The latest Unbound festival took place in Miami on October 30th and 31st.   One of the panel discussions was one titled "Beyond Cryptopia:  Building the Blockchain," and it boasted the following participants:

  • Sam Abbassi, President - Bushido Lab
  • Cory Johnson, Chief Market Strategist - Ripple
  • Daniel Eisner, Co-Founder and CEO - OilCoin
  • Katya Fisher, Partner - Fisher Cataliotti P.C.
  • Patrick Harding, SVP Product - Hedera Hashgraph

Sam Abbassi served as the facilitator of the session, and steered the talk across different topics at key points throughout the half-hour panel discussion:

Cory Johnson continues to be one of the best and most natural speakers on the topics of blockchain technology and specifically the areas where Ripple is focusing.   The panel discussion provided an opportunity for him to highlight some key concepts and insights, but I felt that his wrap-up statement about connecting the unbanked populations of the world was most powerful.   Here is an excerpt:

"...  if we can globalize ...  the money in the economy, then you have an entirely different world, where you create economic opportunity for people all over the world, who are disconnected from our financial systems;  not because they're disconnected from data, and not because they're disconnected from the world of shipping, and even of movement of 'stuff';  but they're disconnected from a place where value can go from someone who's got it, to someone who needs it and earns it.  
Once you change that, you energize an entire section of the world - a place in the world - where people can really contribute to a global economy..."

This summation was meant to be a general statement on the potential of distributed ledger tech by Cory Johnson, but it is not hyperbole to claim that Ripple's solutions do just that:  The interoperable innovations contained in their technology are in the process of transforming worldwide banking and finance, helping to connect all participants in the global economy.  

Amir Sarhangi

On October 29th, Ripple announced the hiring of a new Vice President of Product, Amir Sarhangi:

Amir Sarhangi Tweet

The hire made headlines, as Amir Sarhangi left Google to join Ripple, and was previously heading up Google's "rich communications services," which would be a proprietary upgrade to SMS text messaging by Google.  3 4

The plan by Google to introduce RCS met resistance from other players in the mobile device market, however, such as Apple and Samsung.   Both of these companies are direct competitors, so the rollout among different device manufacturers was surely an uphill battle.   Amir Sarhangi led these rollout efforts, which gives him unique insight into product adoption and its associated challenges.  

Once I read about his specific role at Google, I was very enthusiastic;  my guess is that he'll bring a lot of practical knowledge from Google to bear on Ripple's efforts at adoption of digital assets.  

Layer 3

If you consider yourself more than just a 'trader' of crypto-assets, and are legitimately interested in where the technology of the new financial age is heading, you are going to want to bookmark Evan Schwartz's new blog, titled "Layer 3 is for Interoperability."

This recommendation is for everybody in crypto, as well, not just for those of us that identify with XRP.   His blog describes why the Interledger Protocol - which he co-created - is so revolutionary in the new Internet of Value.  

Starting with a concise, intuitive history of the Internet Protocol, or IP, Evan Schwartz describes how the standardization of IP helped abstract away from individual, different networking technologies that would have otherwise fragmented and obstructed the creation of the Internet as we know it today.   He also carefully and thoughtfully draws a comparison to where the various cryptographic networks are heading, and why ILP needs to serve the role of 'impartial communication mechanism' (my words) of value across networks.   His blog contained one of the most compact and efficient diagrams I've seen on the topic:

ILP Diagram

He waxes philosophical at the end, but he also balances his perspective with a realistic assessment of the current state of cryptographic network architectures:

"We are nowhere near the end of the development of Layer 1 and Layer 2 blockchain or ledger systems.  By abstracting away the differences between these with Layer 3, we can build better, more technology-agnostic user experiences while allowing for future developments that will make the Internet of Value faster, cheaper, and more efficient."

It's this focus on interoperability that is driving the adoption of Ripple technology to the top of the list of new banking applications that promise to replace the aging SWIFT messaging network.  

Coil

Multi-hop has been getting a lot of attention lately.  

Ripple discussed it for the first time in an Insights article published on September 28th.   In that article, they announced the identity of the first bank that would implement its use on RippleNet: Siam Commercial Bank of Thailand.  

Since then, there have been a series of follow-up tweets, communications, and mentions from Ripple to indicate precisely how the feature works to source liquidity;  the most recent mention was on Reinhard Cate's latest Ripple Drop episode:

In this video, Ripple purposefully chooses to spend some time explaining the way in which the function works to return quotes identifying the lowest-cost transaction path.   And this explanation is then followed-up by Craig DeWitt, Ripple's Director of Product, indicating that the lowest-cost paths identified in testing were consistently the ones using xRapid for liquidity.  

It was a one-two combination that telegraphed 'where RippleNet is heading' with regards to using digital assets.  

One of the topics which was still unclear to me was whether the Multi-hop feature was a part of Ripple's proprietary software packages and solutions, or whether it was a characteristic of ILP.   That question was addressed clearly by a tweet from Adrian Hope-Bailie, Coil's Head of Interledger:

Adrian Hope-Bailie

This clarification revealed that the core capability rests within the ILP routing mechanisms, and can be used by Ripple in a variety of ways, including the routing of a payment to dynamically use a settlement path with the lowest cost.

XRP News

You may have missed the recent news about WietseWind and how his team has expanded; he sent out a tweet on October 18th about @baltazar223 - a talented XRP Community developer in his own right - joining both him and @ThisIsTriss as a new team in the Netherlands working together on a variety of projects.  

So, essentially, it's not 'just Wietse' anymore!

And their three-person team is releasing software at a fast clip.   On November 2nd, the team updated the XRP Tip Bot application with some new features - mainly an easy integration with the user's contact list, and the ability to access a tip history and easily select a historical entry to then send a new tip:

XRP Tip Bot Update

The XRP Tip Bot application provides a lot of convenient options, such as scanning a QR code for tips using your mobile device's camera.   The fact that we now have a portable version of the XRP Tip Bot to use 'in real life' outside of social media means that whole new doors have been opened:

  • P2P Tipping
  • Tipping a coffee shop using their QR code
  • Tipping an Uber or Lyft driver with the XRP Tip Bot
  • Tipping others in your personal mobile network of contacts

There are many more possibilities down the road as well, and XRP social media posters have been asking when full payments capabilities will be added;  the enthusiasm for the application is starting to grip the imagination of the entire cryptoverse, as word spreads beyond our XRP Community.  

WietseWind is taking it all in stride, and gauging which development opportunity to pursue;  with a larger team and limitless possibilities, combined with the community support and enthusiasm their team is receiving, I can't wait to see which direction they focus on next.  

XRP Toolkit

RareData, a highly-respected XRP Community developer, began work on an ambitious project in mid-2018.  

It was to build an interface with the XRP Ledger that would be a secure way for XRP owners to interact, without having to divulge their secret key.   While some hardware wallets are in the midst of adding support for some of the advanced capabilities of the XRP Ledger, many of these functions necessitate the use of wallets that use your secret key.  

RareData wanted to build an online wallet with a multitude of choices, including that of a login that integrates with a user's hardware wallet.   In this fashion, the user could avoid sharing a secret key, but still access all of the functions available through the XRP Ledger.   In his official announcement for his latest release of the XRP Toolkit - Beta v0.3.0 - he indicated that his goals for the project were three-fold:  10

  • Accelerate XRP mainstream adoption, by releasing a secure and user-friendly web interface to the XRP ledger.  
  • Encourage learning and XRP ledger experimentation, by making the test net more accessible.  
  • Enable multi-signature coordination and high security use-cases, by implementing transaction notifications and hardware wallet support.  

My impression was that the XRP Toolkit user interface is smooth, providing a simple, intuitive interface:

XRP Toolkit Screen Shot

In its current beta version, the online wallet supports a login via the Ledger hardware wallet for those that own one.   The functionality of XRP Toolkit is necessarily limited by the functionality of the connected hardware wallet, however, so until Ledger adds support for some of the features such as setting trust lines and submitting DEX (decentralized exchange) transactions, the XRP Toolkit will also be limited in what it can do via this login.  

Users can also plug in their secret key, but RareData recommends against this, telling users:

"Wait for XRP Toolkit offline support or at least minimize your risk exposure, by only using this login option with low value wallets."

RareData also took the time to answer some questions I posed to him over DM on Reddit:

Question (Hodor):  If you had to compare the XRP Toolkit to another, existing wallet or service in the crypto space, what would it be?  It reminds me of the "MyEtherWallet" application, and I think you've compared it to that interface in prior conversations.

Answer (RareData):  It'd indeed be MyEtherWallet or MyCrypto. However, as soon as the XRP Toolkit moves past v0.3.0, they are not really comparable.  Simply because XRP is not comparable to Ethereum, apart from payments.  Ethereum doesn't have native support for escrows, checks, payment channels, key rotation, multi-signing nor a built-in decentralized exchange.

Question (Hodor):  I think it's fantastic that you built an interface for usage of the testnet.  Was this to allow new users, or perhaps those that are generally curious about XRP, to experiment without fear of losses?  Will you be continuing to support this with the advanced functions in quarter 4, such as trading on the DEX of the testnet?

Answer (RareData):  It was both to introduce new users to the XRP ledger, to be able to show them how it works, as well as to act as a tool for more experienced users.  Let's say you want to understand how "Escrow Create" and "Escrow Finish" work in practice, wouldn't it be nice to simulate those transactions before escrowing your real XRP?  Or let's say you're unsure about what the "Require Destination Tag" or "Deposit Authorization" flags actually do, well now you can login using a few test accounts and try it in a risk-free environment.

I'll definitely continue supporting this type of advanced functionality.  It's actually part of my development process, I always try new functionality on the test network first.  You'll eventually be able to place orders on the test network and simulate trading using multiple test accounts, but remember that the test network is reset on a regular basis.

Question (Hodor):  Are any of the wallet details saved between sessions?  I am assuming the answer is "no" but just wanted to confirm.

Answer (RareData):  Nothing is saved between sessions.  If you login using a secret key, it's temporarily stored in client-side RAM and released once you logout, close your tab or browser window.  If you use a Ledger Nano S to login, you are practically malware immune, since the secret key is inaccessible inside its secure element and the transaction signing is all handled by the Ledger Nano S.  The XRP Toolkit simply prepares an unsigned transaction, sends it to the Ledger Nano S and receives a signed transaction blob (after visual verification and a physical button press) for submission to the XRP ledger.  This is the case with all hardware wallets we're working with.

Question (Hodor):  The functions available on the "Properties" tab seem to err on the side of richness - i.e. providing a user with all available functions to update their account.  Were you thinking ahead to token creation by individuals?  And are custom tokens the same as what you're calling "Issue custom assets" for the Q1 work-plan?

Answer (RareData):  Actually, I intentionally left out a few properties e.g. transfer rate and tick size, they'll be introduced in conjunction with functionality for issuing custom assets.  As mentioned, the XRP Toolkit aims to unlock the full potential of the XRP ledger and it happens to be very feature rich.  And yes, issuing custom currencies/tokens/assets on the XRP ledger will soon be easier than ever.

Question (Hodor):  Your Quarter 4 work-plan seems large and includes 1) Escrow functions, and 2) Full DEX (Decentralized exchange and trading) functions.  Are you going to be doing this quarter four work solo, or are you asking for volunteers to help you with pieces, and if so, how can they contribute?

Answer (RareData):  The time-based escrow functionality is surprisingly simple to implement.  It's basically a payment transaction with a few dates attached.  Fetching pending escrows for an account is done in a similar fashion as fetching an account's list of trust lines.

I intend to introduce the decentralized exchange and trading functionality in an iterative fashion.  The first release including the DEX will be rather simple, it will get the job done, but not much more.  You'll be able to buy or sell issued currencies from a list of well-known issuers such as Bitstamp, GateHub and Bitso.

I'm frequently discussing my work with other developers, some from the XRP community.  I intend to do most work solo until stable v1.0.0 and then evaluate if the XRP community finds it valuable enough to go full-time, crowdfund and scale the team.  I really hope so.

I appreciate RareData taking time to answer each of those questions in detail.

Overall, I was very impressed by his beta release for the XRP Toolkit, and I foresee this online wallet as providing the same sort of high utility for XRP users that the MyEtherWallet provides for those that interact with the Ethereum network.  

I'm looking forward to his interface with XRP's decentralized exchange (DEX) as well as his support for creation of user-configurable, trade-able assets (tokens) on the XRP Ledger.   I predict that XRP Toolkit will be a very popular option now, given its user-friendly interface, but especially when these additional features are added to the mix in the next two quarters.  

NOTE:  I do not endorse any specific crypto wallet;  please do your own due diligence.

To keep up-to-date on RareData's development roadmap, you can navigate to his GitLab repository, where you can also find all of the code that underpins the XRP Toolkit:  RareData's GitLab Repository.   In addition, he created an XRP Chat avatar and a Twitter avatar for the XRP Toolkit, so make a note that he is behind those posts on either platform.

XRP Balance

Volatility in the cryptomarket is legendary, but XRP owners foresee a time when a majority of the demand for their digital asset will be underpinned by actual utility instead of speculation.

In the meantime, early crypto investors have continued to accumulate the digital asset in anticipation, competing against their own internal goals for ownership.   Although cryptocurrency is gaining popularity, the overall market capitalization of all crypto-assets (combined) still points to a market that has only reached a fraction of its full potential.  

A fundamental analysis of XRP's eventual utility-driven value was conducted recently by a university graduate;  the predictive model he used was then analyzed by @Freedom94429944 (Twitter avatar) and transformed into a configurable predictive algorithm on a new fan website, titled "XRP Balance:" Julian Williams, an XRP Chat contributor and blogger, notified me of the new site:

Screenshot of XRP Balance Site

It's important for people not to get too excited about any prediction made on these sorts of sites, as it is impossible for one person or developer to take all the factors affecting adoption into account.   As an example, users of the XRP Balance site are left to their own devices;  and they may not accurately assess important factors like market inertia, adoption lags, regulatory uncertainty, and competition.  

With that very real warning issued, the predictive algorithm on the site does serve as an example of one way (of many) of calculating different possible outcomes for XRP.   I asked the creator of the site to comment, and here is what @Freedom94429944 had to say:

"The formula used is on Page 10 of the (original document) ...

...  the only modifications I have made is that I have removed the following as input to (simplify) the calculator further:  1.  Fractional Reserve Ratio = 1 (which the authors did as well) and 2.   Probability of XRP success = 100% (authors used 25%, but I felt setting this to 100% shows the full potential of XRP)"

@Freedom94429944 indicated that the site has been receiving high traffic, and that it may be Coil-enabled in the future.  

My own perspective:

  1. The original prediction that the site is based on contained two ranges of two projected prices each, from $1.59 to $32.91  10
  2. Using any assumptions, including the ones in this model, should be considered very changeable.
  3. I have not determined if the site's dynamic calculator works using the same algorithm in the original estimate
  4. I can't vouch for the numbers, as I have not reviewed the site code.
  5. I do not subscribe to these predictions, and I do not take any responsibility for them;  This blog is definitely not meant as financial advice, and I am not a financial professional.

With those important caveats mentioned, I think that rational conversations about fundamental analysis can occur if people make an effort to avoid becoming emotionally entangled in one approach or another.  Price predictions continue to be one area of crypto that is more divisive than unifying.  

XDEX

XP Group is the largest investment firm in Brazil.   It has roughly a half-million clients, and manages more than $35 billion worth of capital.   Starting in late 2017, they raised $7.3 million in capital to develop a new crypto exchange known as "XDex." 5

They confirmed that they would be launching the exchange this week, prompting excitement from Brazilian XRP enthusiasts:

XDEX Tweet

The Brazilian crypto market is growing quickly:  In 2016, crypto traders did approximately $160 million in business.   In 2017, one year later, that number had rocketed upwards to $2.4 billion. 6  Currently, there are a handful of large exchanges in Brazil, but the entry of XP Group signals that traditional investment houses want in on the opportunity that crypto-assets represent.  

As of yet there's been no official word on which crypto-assets the exchange will support at launch;  in fact, there has been sparse information generally, so it will be interesting to follow the deployment of the platform as it seeks to compete with earlier entrants and also some other South American exchanges that have been funded via ICOs.  

Sharding

Sharding is a concept of task distribution among a group of computers in a network; usually having to do with memory management.  

In the specific case of crypto networks, the concept has been used to address the sometimes-lengthy block histories where all transactions can be traced back to originating wallets.   This is known as a "block history" on blockchains, and "ledger history" on distributed ledgers such as the XRPL.  

XRP's ledger history has grown to enormous size if one validator operator wishes to download and store it;  over eight terabytes currently.  

To address this quickly-growing ledger history size in advance of XRP large-scale adoption, a change was made and included in version 0.90.0 of the XRPL.   This change activates sharding among validators.   Using this feature, servers can store part of the full ledger history and then share them with other validators as needed.   According to Jennifer Hasegawa, an Information Architect for Ripple, 7

"A shard store does not replace a ledger store, but implements a reliable path toward distributed ledger history across the XRP Ledger Network.  The history of all ledgers is shared by servers agreeing to keep shards.  This makes it possible for servers to confirm that they have all the data they agreed to maintain, and produce proof trees or ledger deltas."

So if it's been in place since version 0.90.0, you may wonder "why is this feature being discussed now?"  The answer is that with version 1.1.0, a new API became available for accessing this information.   Using the "download_shard" command, a user can request to download a specific compressed history shard.

This is an exciting development, as it makes specific history sections immediately available to anybody with enough space to store the data, enabling ease-of-access for all stakeholders in the XRP ecosystem.  

Swiss Investment Fund Handling Custody of XRP

Crypto Finance is a cryptocurrency storage solution that aims to provide its services to banks; by their own admission, it's their goal to: 8

"...  (become) the largest investment and technology provider specializing in crypto assets and related services"

They are, so far, walking the talk, becoming the first crypto fund to receive Switzerland's cryptocurrency asset management license on October 9th.  9  And recently, an XRP fan noticed that they are providing custody for XRP

It was a positive development, as Crypto Finance is focused on providing custody of crypto-assets for banks;  for those banks looking to outsource storage of an existing stack of XRP, it's an option that some might want to consider.  

Leading the Cryptomarket With a Shared Vision

At the beginning of this blog, I talked about helping others understand the innovations behind the XRP ecosystem by assisting them in visualizing how it could supercharge the global economy.

The concepts involved in the Internet of Value are sometimes a bit conceptual in nature, and the technical parts of the puzzle are not understandable to many ordinary people.   However, with XRP, keep in mind that we have something that not many others have:  

Momentum.  

Look at our collective team that comprises the XRP Ecosystem - the businesses, the people, the funds, the exchanges.   All of these stakeholders are pulling together for perhaps-different reasons, but suffice it to say that most of the forward thinkers have come to the realization that XRP is the best option for moving the cause of crypto-assets forward.  

As 2018 unfolded, we saw Ripple increasing its pace of public-facing engagement with regards to blockchain technology, providing consistent direction and guidance for some of the topics that 2018 will best be remembered for;  a quest for regulatory clarity, an emphasis on interoperability, and a technologically-creative approach to involvement of digital assets for settlement.   We also saw the acceleration of the number of new businesses that were planning on 'building on XRP,' and that trend is continuing as 2019 approaches.  

The momentum of a freight train is now assisting us, but we should continue to help others in understanding the complex topics surrounding the adoption of the XRP ecosystem;  let's help them see what smart contracts can do;  let's help them see how streaming micropayments can supercharge valuable Internet content delivery;  and most of all, let's help them understand which digital asset has the scalability and speed to bring banking into the modern age.  

xrp symbol Sources and Credits: Cover Art: Thank you to [Max Bender](https://unsplash.com/@maxwbender)
  1. https://unbound.live/Miami-2018/why-attend
  2. https://unbound.live/Miami-2018/agenda
  3. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ripple-moves/blockchain-startup-hires-away-googles-messaging-tech-leader-idUSKCN1N02QA
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_Communication_Services
  5. https://coinpedia.net/2018/04/18/brazilian-biggest-investment-firm-launches-its-own-crypto-exchange/
  6. https://coingape.com/brazil-financial-services-company-enters-cryptocurrency/
  7. https://ripple.com/dev-blog/introducing-history-sharding/
  8. https://www.cryptofinance.ch/kontakt/
  9. https://cointelegraph.com/news/swiss-financial-watchdog-issues-countrys-first-crypto-asset-management-license
  10. https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/fundamental-valuation-framework-for-cryptoassets/A+Fundamental+Valuation+Framework+for+Cryptoassets_June+2018.pdf

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Hodor

Hodor

I blog about Ripple & XRP. FULL DISCLOSURE: All views are my own. I do not work for Ripple; I am not a professional financial analyst, and the majority of my crypto holdings are XRP.

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