XRP: Milestones of Progress

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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A multi-year business plan, or a technology implementation plan if you're a 'techie,' requires careful planning and sequencing.  

The finished state of the system or business is where to start, and then it's necessary to work backwards, visualizing all of the accomplishments that must occur before crossing the finish line.   It's this planning and structure of work that requires a thoughtful, and at varying points both an intuitive and methodical approach.  

You can see the effect on a business of having a leader that is only strong in one area, such as visualizing the end-state, and not understanding all of the difficult work required to move from the starting point through the stepping stones in-between.   Sometimes a new business folds within months if it doesn't have a solid work-plan.  

Large organizations establish entire departments to address this need.  

Remittance companies, financial organizations, and banks have extensive technology staff that are dedicated to navigating the treacherous waters of integration and project management, using methods such as Agile to increase chances of success.   I've worked with some of these large organizations.

One thing I can tell you about Ripple, Coil, Omni, Wietse, and others building on XRP, is that they all seem to understand that good products take time.   Even when Wietse - who is famously fast at writing flawless code - creates something new, you find out later that he's been designing it and mulling over various details for some time before you see his ideas take shape.   This is the mark of an adept planner.  

And now, in 2018, we are collectively seeing many milestones of development coming together for each one of these major participants in the XRP ecosystem.   Ripple announced xRapid's production readiness at SWELL.   Omni announced a new cash-out option for renters that wish to be paid in XRP.   And Wietse just announced the promotion of the new XRP Tip Bot application on iOS and Android.  

We'll get to that last announcement later, but suffice it to say that 2018 will be remembered as the start of something extraordinary for XRP.  

Ripple News

Ripple published their Quarter 3 2018 XRP Markets Report on October 25th, 2018.  

If there was one XRP Markets Report I'd characterize as a coiled spring, compressed with massive amounts of potential energy, I'd say the third quarter 2018 XRP Markets Report is it.  

The report addresses Ripple's interaction with XRP supply, and also contains related statistics for the third quarter of 2018, from July 1st through September 30th.   It can be broken down into a few major sections that Miguel Vias and Cory Johnson chose to cover:

• Ripple's XRP Sales
• Escrow 
• Market Analysis (Regulation, Geographic trends, and Wall Street Adoption

Before launching into these topics, the report does a side-by-side comparison with the previous quarter:

XRP Market Report Chart

Even with a comparison against only one prior quarter, it's evident what has dramatically changed:  Institutional Direct Sales.   You might be wondering what the level of institutional sales were for quarters further back in history, and luckily for you, I've compiled those numbers here:

XRP Market Report Q3 2018 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 

There are two very noticeable outliers in this data:  the first one, which should be obvious, is the enormous amount of cash that Ripple received when the XRP price was flirting with its all-time-highs in early January of this year.   This happened despite the fact that Ripple's amount of programmatic sales were actually lower than normal.   It shows you how a rising price lifts all boats, including the boat containing the largest company that's championing XRP adoption.  

The other outlier was published in the current report.  

The $98 million in 'Direct Sales' represents a (roughly) 500 percent increase from the previous quarter.   This is very exciting, because this category of sales is where Ripple counts (direct) sales to banks, remittance processors, credit unions, funds, and exchanges.   This is one of the most 'bullish' signals that has ever been published in an XRP Markets report, and the report devotes one sentence to the topic:

"In addition, XRP II, LLC — a Ripple subsidiary that is a registered and licensed money service business (MSB) — sold $98.06 million worth of XRP in institutional direct sales.  In total, the company sold $163.33 million worth of XRP in Q3."

This statement fails to capture just how profound this number might be in the currently-unfolding history of XRP.   When institutional demand jumps by 500% in one quarter, I'd call that an important event - perhaps even the most important one - covered in this quarter's market report.   But Ripple has chosen to de-emphasize this jump in institutional sales with a more matter-of-fact statement.

Here's what it looks like graphically:

XRP Jump in Institutional Sales

Sometimes when people see how dramatic a trend is visually, they truly start to understand its significance.   Up until 2018, we've heard much speculation about the potential of increasing institutional sales of XRP for those institutions that directly wish to replace their nostro accounts, but the levels of institutional sales seemed to reflect ongoing replenishment of crypto exchanges and an occasional fund purchase;  this quarter's sales appear to reflect a dramatic uptick in all categories of interest.  

Perhaps I should take my cue from Ripple's report and not be overly-excited, but I consider that surge in sales to be very positive news about XRP adoption.  

Escrow Activity

The report indicated that Ripple ended up 'keeping' 400 million XRP of the 3 billion released in quarter 3, placing the remainder - 2.6 billion XRP - back into escrow.  
This is what I expected to see, at about the level I expected to see it.   It provides some flexibility for Ripple to invest and maneuver the XRP in a manner that supports their business.   It's consistent with responsible management on their end, in my opinion, even though we don't have insight into what it's specifically being used for.  

Since Ripple started releasing details of its escrow activity, it's good to chart the escrow amounts detailed in each quarterly report, right alongside the sales data.   Here is what it looks like so far:

Escrow Amounts

The immediate thing you'll notice is that quarter three represents a departure from prior quarters;  it contains a (roughly) 33% increase.   This isn't a bad thing, and could actually reflect a connection to increased levels of institutional sales.   After all, the XRP involved in institutional sales has to come from somewhere, and the escrow release amounts may be one source.  

Market Commentary

Miguel Vias and Cory Johnson included some interesting market analysis, and how South Korea is now rising again in prominence as one of the leaders in XRP trading.   In addition, Malta continues to play a major role in current volume.  

The report also talked, intriguingly, about the pending entrance of major Wall Street firms into crypto trading.   It's inevitable that these firms will want to access cryptomarkets, but I'm wondering why it took them so long.   The ordinary hobby investor in crypto has long since been able to navigate - for the most part - the technical obstacles involved.   It's time that the mainstream platforms address custody for these assets and provide an outlet for their customers' interest in owning digital assets.  

The Missing Pieces

The XRP Markets Report did an excellent job of consistently communicating XRP statistics in a standardized fashion.   The view into XRP sales and escrow activity is valuable information that Ripple is under no obligation to provide.  

However, kudos aside, it's important to remember that trading in crypto is not without risk, and XRP holders should look at additional information that the report has not covered;  things and topics that could legitimately be characterized as valid concerns that we need to watch closely.  

These include:

  • What tangible effect is regulatory uncertainty having on xRapid deployment & adoption?
  • How much XRP volume is coming from xRapid partners, and how much is expected in quarter 4?
  • Does the sealed settlement with R3 include any amount of XRP being transferred to R3?
  • What sort of institutions comprise the increase in 'Institutional Direct Sales?'

Each one of these factors has some level of potential impact on the market value of XRP, and the overall XRP supply, and they were not covered in the report.   Note that for some, such as the sealed resolution of the R3 lawsuit, it doesn't surprise me, since Ripple cannot legally comment on the details.  

So how should we proceed in absence of any official clarification on these questions?

I suggest that the XRP Community devise independent methods of investigating these points, and develop its own techniques for tracking financial activity related to the XRP ecosystem.   This would involve creation of tools for analysis of exchange volume and other topics.   In fact, this is already happening organically on XRP Chat, where multiple threads have been created to analyze exchange volume in anticipation of xRapid's use.  

While we have seen the amount of XRP sold programmatically by Ripple increase, along with a massive jump in institutional sales, we have not seen (as-of-yet) a corresponding detection of xRapid payment volume.   Although this is a valid concern by some, it's important to widen the lens out and do a big-picture analysis.  

The Big Picture

Is the latest XRP Markets Report what we'd expect to see just prior to xRapid adoption at scale by banks and other large corporates?

Yes.  

So even though we have to ask the tough questions and do our due diligence, my impression is overwhelmingly positive.   From what I saw at SWELL, along with official statements from Brad Garlinghouse about the first banks using XRP by the end of 2018, I am very confident we are seeing the first rumblings of what could be something truly cataclysmic in scale.   The sudden rise in institutional sales should be a big clue.  

My guess is that Miguel Vias and Cory Johnson will include xRapid volume statistics and targets starting in the Quarter 4, 2018 XRP Markets report, as this is one of the primary areas of interest by XRP fans.  

The Quarter 3 XRP Markets Report is almost exactly what I expected to see prior to an epic quarter 4, so stay tuned;  Perhaps the next report will contain statistics summarizing xRapid volume.  

New xRapid Customer: Quidax

Quidax is a relatively new exchange that specializes in servicing Nigerian customers.   It's based in Malta, like many other notable crypto exchanges, and it announced in early August that it would be listing XRP on its exchange.  9

I covered this in a blog at the time , and now, a few months later, Quidax just announced that they would be integrating with xRapid. 10  It's the first time we've heard the announcement coming directly from an exchange instead of Ripple, which is noteworthy but unsurprising, as exchanges that integrate with xRapid stand to gain enormous amount of volume down the line when it is used to its full potential.  

Essentially, any remittance processor or bank that utilizes xRapid for sourcing liquidity could potentially trigger high numbers of transactions on these exchanges.   It's a potential gold mine for crypto exchanges, and Bittrex, one of the largest US exchanges, was quick to sign up for xRapid integration.  

Buchi Okoro, Quidax's CEO, was quoted in the official press release as saying:

“It would be a lot more mind-blowing to consider the positives and opportunities cryptocurrencies offer us today;  instant settlements and greatly reduced costs of financial transactions.”

It's tough to disagree with that statement.   It will be interesting to get Ripple's take on the announcement by Quidax, and whether this pattern is going to be indicative of a new trend - exchanges lining up to be xRapid customers.  

ECS

ECS is a large international payments processor, founded in 1999, that has offices throughout the world, including Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East, India, and Asia. 11  From looking at their technology descriptions, much of their software is structured to enable businesses to streamline payments and other treasury services.  Their current offerings seem to use the old SWIFT messaging protocols.  12

However, the company may be looking to upgrade its technology stack with Ripple's DLT-based solutions:  13

"ECS is also currently in the process of adding a module for moving money through Ripple.  Users can choose to keep separate dashboards for each module or have consolidated views that combine transactions from multiple modules."

The report is from a document whose focus is on simplification of treasury operations through what it's calling a "treasury aggregator," whose function it is to simplify regulation compliance, anti-fraud provisions, and reconciliation.   The fact that ECS is looking to integrate with Ripple for their flagship central payment hub product is great news, and signifies that Ripple technology is achieving meaningful traction with major players in the treasury services space.  

Money 20/20 Remarks by Chris Larsen

In his fireside chat with Arjan Schütte, the Founder and Managing Partner of Core Innovation Capital, Chris Larsen emphasized the possibility for the technologies Ripple developed to act as a hedge against the next international economic crisis, and took the opportunity to indicate how his company is attempting to avoid the mistakes by some other prominent Silicon Valley companies.  14

The Insights article quoted him as saying:

“There is a ‘techlash’ going on, for sure.  Silicon Valley has missed the boat.   They’ve moved fast and broke things and didn’t worry about the consequences.  This is where FinTech has struggled.  Pure code is one thing, but it has to also be compliant and regulated.  Technology is embedded in everything these days, and people are scared ..."

To avoid these mistakes, Chris Larsen emphasized how Ripple has worked very closely with its target industry - the global banking system:

"A big part of stopping this fetish for disruption is getting involved in the industry.   Work with banks.  By working with the system, you are automatically confronted by what the concerns are.  If you’re only on your own path, you don’t see what these issues are.”

It was an inspiring quote, and a reminder of what has provided traction for Ripple more than most other fintechs that are attempting to enter the banking market.   Part of his discussion ended up making it into the Money 20/20 highlight reel as well (he's featured at 3:18):

My favorite quote from the Day 4 Money 20/20 video:

"With a really efficient digital asset - something like XRP - and that's what we believe will be the most efficient - you can now reduce trillions and trillions of capital from being tied up.   You can make those transfers instantly as a bank, or as a payment provider, or as an enterprise, without having to have money pre-positioned throughout the world."

It's clear that Chris Larsen - and Ripple - are ready to proceed to the next stage of using XRP for liquidity sourcing, and it's also apparent that they are continuing to emphasize all facets of the environment necessary to make this happen, including regulatory clarity.  

Ripple Drop - Episode Six

The latest segment of the Ripple Drop, a video series dedicated to bringing insight into Ripple's software solutions, company, market, culture and business progress, was released on Monday, October 29th:  15

In each of the videos, Reinhard Cate, Ripple's Head of Content, follows a familiar pattern of displaying three quick snippets of conversation with Ripple movers and shakers.   This one was no different, and provided two minutes of rapid-fire facts and insight into:

  • Multi-hop (Asheesh Birla, Ripple's SVP of Product)
  • Benefits of Multi-hop (Craig DeWitt, Ripple's Director of Product)
  • XRP Markets Report (Cory Johnson, Ripple's Chief Market Strategist)

The insight into Multi-hop, although brief, provided some incredible revelations:

  • xVia, Ripple's API Solution, works with xRapid or xCurrent
  • Multi-Hop enables smart routing for the cheapest payment path
  • The most inexpensive paths have (so far) been xRapid paths

The most impressive quote came from Craig DeWitt, Ripple's Director of Product:

Question (Reinhard Cate):  "Multi-hop.   What is it & how does it work?"

Answer (Craig DeWitt):  "Multi-hop gives RippleNet members the ability of transacting with banks or payment providers or digital wallets that they don't have a direct relationship to.  

That's so important, because in today's world, you need a bunch of bilateral relationships clunkily put together in a chain in order to move money.   Multi-hop makes that a thing of the past.  

So one of the things that Multi-hop allows are multiple quotes to be returned to the user.   And those quotes will have different paths of payments that are available.  

What we're seeing already in terms of the tests that we're doing are the cheapest and the fastest when they go through xRapid."

That last quote was something that every crypto trader should be made aware of;  the rise of xRapid and hence XRP is something very real and tangible that is about to take the world by surprise, along with many in the crypto market.  

In the Insights article that Reinhard Cate wrote to accompany the video, he announced that:

"We’ll also be sharing extended cuts of each of these segments soon.  We hope you like this episode, and let us know if there are any topics you’d like to see more of in the future."

More implementation details like the ones contained in the diagram that Asheesh Birla shared would be great to see.   Visual depictions of the RippleNet components go a long way to shine a light on what Ripple solutions can do for banks, finanical companies, and corporates.  

FIDES

Fides is an international remittance processing company based in Zurich, Switzerland.  16  In August of this year, they hosted a one-day conference which featured a presentation by Ryan Gaylor, Ripple's Director of Corporate Payments, titled "Blockchain and the Future of Cross-Border Payments."  17

In addition, Ripple submitted a document for the conference that details a case study about how one of their xCurrent customers - Amex - is using RippleNet to drive their costs down and cater their services to small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).   @ErikvanDijk (Twitter avatar) noted the file and tweeted about it to the rest of the Twitter community.   The document included a sample diagram of how xRapid might work for an individual transaction:  18

FIDE Slide

While this slide was very encouraging, the next slide also documented the current, chaotic international climate for crypto-asset regulation, which is only now starting to be addressed in a coherent manner by governments.   No singular taxonomy seems to be in place yet at an international level, but I predict that the major players in the IMF are going to want to standardize the regulatory treatment to access the global economic benefits of ultra-low cross-border payment costs.  

The document provided illuminating details about what DLT can do for a variety of payment scenarios, and addressed the rising trend of using digital assets to transmit value across borders.   The context for the document may have been a financial conference in Switzerland, but it's evident that Ripple is aggressively pursing adoption of its innovative technology, including the parts that use digital assets.  

XRP News

WietseWind doesn't rest.   In his latest proposed update for the XRP Tip Bot, he indicated that his goal is to enable Wirex users to fund their XRP Tip Bot account from their Wirex account.   Currently, those with an XRP Tip Bot account have four ways to fund their XRP Tip Bot account:

  • Receive a tip
  • XRP Direct Transfer
  • Coil
  • ILP

WietseWind wants to add one more:

Wirex Tweet by Wietse

Wirex is an extremely popular service that is quickly catching on among crypto users generally, and especially XRP users.   Their customer base seems XRP-centric, and their service may portend one application of many which truly acts as a dis-intermediary of traditional personal finance.   Having the option to fund the XRP Tip Bot account directly from their Wirex account provides a convenient alternative for XRP fans.  

Lykke

Lykke is a new ICO-funded exchange based in Switzerland.  19

It launched earlier this year, and on October 30th, they announced that they'd be supporting XRP:

Lykke Exchange Announcement

The exchange charges no fees on trading, and offers API support.   That combination alone should result in a large number of interested traders, and the company states that its business model is focused on making money off of other sources of revenue:  20

"Our revenue will come from providing liquidity, offering issuance services, and supporting institutional clients."

It will be interesting to see if their fee structures attract high numbers of customers;  their remark that "XRP is one of the most traded & requested by our community coins" is an exciting comment that reflects the increasing activity we've seen for XRP online and in Internet search statistics.  

Artis Turba

Artis Turba is an exchange that was funded by an ICO.   The ICO resulted in the sale of 350 million tokens that provide profit-sharing rights in the exchange's fees. 21   22  The company is also notable for being based in South Africa.  23

The flagship product for the project is a mobile crypto trading platform;  and on October 23rd, the team announced that they added support for XRP:

Artis Tweet Announcement

XRP traders will be pleased to know that the exchange supports direct trading of XRP against the South African Rand (ZAR), adding yet another global corridor for XRP trading.  24  The exchange considers XRP one of its base currencies.  25

XRP Tip Bot iPhone App

The most exciting news for XRP Community on Twitter, in my opinion, was the official release of the XRP Tip Bot mobile app:

WietseWinds Tweet

Contained in this tweet was a video where @WietseWind (Twitter handle) announced that the XRP Tip Bot was approved for both the Google Play Store (for Android users) and the Apple App Store (for iOS users).   In addition, Wietse unveiled a new website for the application, where it was revealed that the app would support an increase to twenty XRP for the maximum tip level:

WietseWinds Tweet

The app contains features that are convenient to use while you have a mobile device in your hand at various establishments, such as a QR code function.   The promotion of the XRP Tip Bot to both the Google and Apple stores was a major accomplishment.  

Some fun facts regarding the debut of the XRP Tip Bot on Android and iOS:

  • Both the Android and iOS version were approved by Google and Apple within 24 hours
  • 1,000 users activated the App within 24 hours
  • Highest total XRP has been sent to @bigbuckor
  • Highest number of tips have been set to @WietseWind

Congrats to Wietse on this major step for the XRP Tip Bot, and I can't wait to hear more about its new features as time moves forward, as well as how it's being used for an even greater variety of philanthropic and business purposes.  

NOTE: I wrote up a much more in-depth guest editorial at the International Cryptocurrency News Network (ICNN) about the new XRP Tip Bot mobile app, along with a brief history of its viral adoption on social networks:  Link to Hodor's Guest Editorial at ICNN

Steady Leadership and Milestones Achieved

Progress like we've seen in recent days doesn't happen by accident.  

It required careful planning, along with healthy doses of commitment and hard work. Among the leaders in the XRP ecosystem, I've noticed that each seems to have one thing in common:  the ability to persevere in the midst of resistance.   This resistance can include doubts from conservative businesses, industry inertia, and the old-fashioned human fear of change.  

I've been impressed with Ripple's array of leaders at all levels.   It seems that each one of their team members seems capable of stepping into the 'Captain's Chair' to borrow terminology from Star Trek.   They each possess a certain amount of self-determination and entrepreneurship that I admire, and it gives me confidence that they will achieve their goal and transform the entire financial industry with their inspiration and clear vision.  

As an XRP owner, consider all of the significant announcements we've heard in 2018 thus far:  the production deployments of xRapid;  the integration of xRapid with three exchanges;  the Xpring Initiative;  Ripple's UBRI;  Founding of Coil;  Initial release of Coil;  Omni's use of XRP by renters;  the promotion of the XRP Tip Bot to iOS and Android;  the initial joining of the IoV and IoT;  the addition of dozens of worldwide exchanges that support XRP pairings against exotic currencies;  and the usage of XRP by a credit union.  

This list is only a brief sampling of the significant milestones achieved so far in 2018.

These accomplishments herald the rise of the Internet of Value - the fintech innovation that can cross borders as easily as a text message - along with its preferred unit of value:  XRP
xrp symbol
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Javier Alleque Barros

  1. https://ripple.com/insights/q4-2016-xrp-markets-report/
  2. https://ripple.com/insights/q1-2017-xrp-markets-report/
  3. https://ripple.com/insights/q2-2017-xrp-markets-report/
  4. https://ripple.com/insights/q3-2017-xrp-markets-report/
  5. https://ripple.com/insights/q4-2017-xrp-markets-report/
  6. https://ripple.com/insights/q1-2018-xrp-markets-report/
  7. https://ripple.com/insights/q2-2018-xrp-markets-report/
  8. https://ripple.com/insights/q3-2018-xrp-markets-report/
  9. https://twitter.com/LeoHadjiloizou/status/1024986284777975814
  10. https://bitcoinafrica.io/2018/10/29/quidax-to-use-ripples-xrapid-product-to-revolutionise-remittance-and-payments/
  11. https://ecsfin.com/contact-us/
  12. https://ecsfin.com/solutions/
  13. https://ecsfin.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/2017-TAAR-ECS-Fin.pdf
  14. https://ripple.com/insights/chris-larsen-reflects-on-disruption-regulation-and-the-internet-of-value-at-money20-20/
  15. https://ripple.com/insights/the-ripple-drop-episode-6/
  16. https://www.fides.ch/en/contact-us/
  17. https://www.fides.ch/en/fides-conference-2018/
  18. https://www.fides.ch/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Ripple_Fides_Conference.pdf
  19. https://twitter.com/lykke https://icotimeline.com/lykke/
  20. https://icotimeline.com/lykke/
  21. https://etherscan.io/token/0x082e13494f12ebb7206fbf67e22a6e1975a1a669
  22. https://www.artisturba.com/faq
  23. https://www.artisturba.com/
  24. https://www.artisturba.com/
  25. https://twitter.com/ArtisTurba/status/1055828000112021505

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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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