Like a household plant forgotten on the patio in the mild June rains, crypto is growing, and growing fast. It is now, once again, testing the air to see if 'it's time.'
And from the stories and sentiment in the news media, and the breath-taking reaction to Ripple's investment in MoneyGram, along with Facebook's publishing of their Libra whitepaper, it's obvious that the industry is now venturing toward its rightful place alongside mainstream finance.
And that place nods to the power - now the unavoidable and un-censorable power - of the world's citizens to choose their own currency to use for transactions.
Regulators are falling behind the industry now, watching with fearful trepidation as the citizens of the world make their choices without any guidance or leadership from traditional finance; and those icons of the old guard that continue to spew venom at this new, decentralized technology and its associated crypto-assets may find themselves on the wrong side of history, much like those that dismissed the potential economic impact of the Internet itself.
General Crypto News
The SEC published the entire live-stream from their latest FinTech Forum that took place on May 31st. If you didn't get a chance to watch the live-stream as it happened, it is located here:
While Ripple did not send a representative, the forum did have one session that intersected with their market, titled 'Distributed Ledger Technology Innovations: Industry Trends and Specific Use Cases for Financial Markets.'
The session was moderated by Scott Walker, the Special Counsel at FinHub, and included representatives from IBM, R3, and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The one-hour panel was well-moderated, with some great questions about the industry, and Scott Walker followed up with topics that intersected with regulation and law enforcement.
I wasn't completely happy with the level of knowledge on the panel, though; Although many of his comments seemed spot-on perfect, Todd McDonald from R3 was responsible for the 'most incorrect' comment, when he made the claim that Bitcoin's Proof-of-Work slowness is necessary for censorship resistance.
Not only is this not true, but his comment doesn't respect the facts; If you want true censorship-resistance, you don't choose a transaction validation method that allows history to be overwritten. Proof-of-Work allows for that with 51% attacks, and it's one of the main weaknesses which has struck many P.O.W. networks like Ethereum Classic - a blockchain with daily volume in the hundreds of millions. In addition, for P.O.W. networks, only one miner controls which transactions are included in a specific block, and which ones are left out, which can be a very direct form of censorship.
Inexplicably, he telegraphs that he 'sort of' understands that concept that when he makes his next statement:
"... probabilistic settlement has no place within capital markets."
At least that part is correct, and reflects one of the key differences between XRP and Bitcoin; XRP uses deterministic settlement and its closed ledgers cannot be overwritten. Bitcoin uses probabilistic settlement, and those using the network never really achieve 100% certainty of transaction finality.
Christopher Ferris from IBM provided an interesting take on KYC (know-your-customer), talking about the trend of 'self-sovereign' identity management. He provided an intuitive example that most audiences could follow, and then merged the trend with some of the new technologies that have been springing up around 'zero-knowledge' proofs.
Kevin Werbach, from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, made some insightful and cerebral observations, at one point unabashedly advertising his book. One notable quote from him was regarding the concept of 'trustless-ness:'
"This is not a trustless technology. Because there needs to be trust at some point. Trust is a willingness to act, despite some vulnerability or uncertainty. And that's actually what we want.
Really what we're talking about here is two things.
One is trust minimization. Where there might be a problem in the trust that has to be reposed in a particular trusted third-party with some of the traditional systems, where there might need to be more efficiency or other benefits of not having to rely on that party for security. And also, situations where there's a gap in trust, where actually, expansion of trust is valuable, because traditionally, multiple parties have to keep their own record of the same transaction. And with a blockchain, with a kind of shared source of truth, then it becomes possible for everyone to be, basically, trusting the same ledger.
So, it doesn't eliminate the need for trust, but it does restructure it."
This concept of trust is one that I've heard other crypto icons talk about as well, much to the chagrin of those that would prefer religious zealotry rather than rational thought: Code can only remove trust so much. It can spread it around, it can decentralize it. But it can't remove it.
The panelists discussed how the 'edges' of the crypto networks are where security weaknesses lie, which was an accurate observation that refers to centralized exchanges and other third party stakeholders.
Keven Werbach issued a nice closing summary on SEC's role in streamlining regulation of DLT:
"The difference between now and twenty years ago, is that the US was basically the only game in town. And what we decided really determined the fate of the technology. This is now a global phenomenon, if we talk about blockchain and DLT.
The US is in a very strong position, partly because of the innovation ecosystem we have here, in terms of the technology, and partly because of the place that we occupy in the global financial system.
That is not guaranteed to remain the case indefinitely.
And I do think that if we don't get it right from a public policy perspective here, my bet would be not that it 'doesn't happen,' but that it happens somewhere else."
To this point, we've heard similar references and warnings from executives at Ripple when talking about their desire for greater regulatory clarity from the US, and this particular variant of that warning from Keven Werbach might be the most eloquent version thus far.
It was a somber, but appropriate warning from a noted technology academic.
On June 17th, a news website that focuses on fintech topics that affect Latin America reported that two banks, Banesco Panama, and Scotiabank Chile, had completed tests using Ripple technology.
The first, Banesco Panama, is a Venezuelan bank with over three hundred branches and an extensive network of offices and locations throughout Latin America. It's a public company with almost eight thousand employees worldwide. 1
While we'd already seen reports of Banesco Panama's successful test with Ripple technology in early May, the article from Iupana elaborated on it, with some quotes from Rodrigo González, the Executive Vice President for Innovation and Transformation at the bank.
"It gives you traceability, and arrives directly, anywhere in the world ...
Now we are working on a minimum viable product."
The article stated that Banesco Panama is planning on rolling out its new service to a group of banks it works with in various countries, including the Dominican Republic, Panama, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela.
The Chilean subsidiary conducted its own test as well, concluding:
"What we identified was that Ripple technology works really well."
The article went on to note that the bank determined that to take full advantage of the efficiencies available using DLT technology, that the bank would need to upgrade its payment infrastructure:
"As soon as you do that, the process becomes a lot more efficient, a lot more effective. And you can start having almost one account."
It's not entirely clear if Daniel Kennedy, the Scotiabank representative, was talking about the elimination of the need for Nostro-vostro accounts, or the technical configuration underpinning the software implementation; regardless of the context, simplification is usually a step in the right direction.
Thanks to Leonidas Hadjiloizou for the reference to this recent article.
The Central Bank Payments Conference
The Central Bank Payments Conference is an annual, week-long conference taking place this year in Berlin, Germany from June 24th through the 27th.
The conference organizers have focused the content and program on technology and other contemporary topics impacting central banks and their immediate industry stakeholders. According to their own site, the conference: 3
"... focuses on payments and payment systems issues from a central bank perspective. We have developed a program complete with topics that address the most relevant concerns, challenges, and opportunities facing Central Banks and their evolving role in the payment system and market infrastructure ...
As the most pertinent policy issues surrounding the Central Bank operation and oversight of the payment system are discussed, this is a conference for payment system executives, leaders, and senior experts."
One of those senior experts will be Dilip Rao, Ripple's Global Head of Infrastructure Innovation. He's slated to talk about using DLT for cross-border payments on Wednesday, June 26th, as part of the conference's full day devoted to 'New Developments in DLT/Blockchain Technology.' Hopefully we'll get to see video of the conference at some point afterward.
Thanks to @JannaOneTrick (XRP Chat avatar) for the note about Dilip Rao's presentation.
Leapfrog Technology is a software development company with offices in the US, Switzerland, and Nepal. According to the company's official website, they've been around since 2010, and have authored a wide variety of software solutions. In their list of prior case studies where their team has acquired first-hand experience, one is listed as 'Providing Efficient Remittances.'
Perhaps there is some connection between their previous work and a recent tweet that the company published:
Another possibility is that the company may be independently pursuing the niche market in Nepal; the tweet doesn't offer many details, however, it's an encouraging development, as a Nepal corridor would certainly add to XRP's growing global reach. The nation uses their own national currency, the Nepalese rupee.
The first 'Hodor's Mysteries' took place on June 23rd via Coil, where I published three questions, or puzzles, only visible to Coil subscribers:
The people who could solve the riddles or answer the questions the fastest won a prize of 150 XRP per person. Here are the results from the very first 'Hodor's Mysteries:'
- Question 1 no winner / donated to: @StJude - 150 XRP
- Question 2 winner: @Silkjaer - 150 XRP
- Question 3 winner: @josepi909 - 150 XRP
There will be more 'Hodor's Mysteries' in the future, since the first one seemed to go smoothly; the only requirement is that the participants have a Coil subscription.
Thanks to everybody who participated, no matter if you won a prize or not!
Hodor's Coil Recommendations
Whether or not you consider yourself an artist, my guess is that you will undoubtedly enjoy the premium Coil content by Kassjan Smyczek.
He's an artist that draws a myriad of subjects, including characters from fiction or video games. One recent post shows a time-lapse of him drawing a video game character named Cayde-6:
He's also completed and posted blogs about his Asian art, and even an XRP-themed piece he completed for Kraken:
Kraken sent him a thank-you:
Another 'must-follow,' in my estimation, is Vengeful Seven. He is a prolific writer, and has authored fictional novels long before he encountered Coil; and on Coil, he's started a video game review blog series titled 'Unnecessary Video Game Reviews.'
He's also published a sample of his fictional book 'The Fires of War: The Tyranny of the Archangels', and various blogs on other musings.
Oh, and Vengeful Seven is also the creator (and one of the moderators) on the first sub-Reddit targeting Coil subscribers and content creators, located here:
If you're a developer looking for help from others, or a content creator looking to see what else is happening with Coil, it's worth adding the CoilCommunity subreddit to your bookmarks.
On June 24th, Ripple released a new version of the 'WebSocket Tool,' a capability on the legacy version of the website that allowed a developer to use the WebSocket communications protocol to send requests - and receive responses - from the two, Ripple-run, publicly-accessible validators (S1 and S2). 4
The team from Ripple built new capabilities into the tool, allowing a user to point it at the Test Net, or to their own local server:
These two new options increase the likelihood of the tool being used by developers or those looking to learn more through interacting with the XRP Ledger Test Net.
The tool is a fantastic resource: You should try one or two of the transactions yourself on the Test Net if you're curious. It's a great way to learn about the various transaction methods in a safe way before 'graduating' to production transactions on the real XRP Ledger.
The newest 'fan video' to surface is one created by @XRP_Productions, and released on June 21st:
It's a concept piece modeled after a 'break-up' conversation between a young lady and her crypto consort, Bitcoin. The catch? The new man in her life is XRP, and she makes no secret of it in her frank and honest conversation with Bitcoin.
It's a great video that uses humor to get the main points across, and hopefully sparks enough interest where people new to crypto will dig deeper and find out some of the conclusions the voice actress makes on the recording.
Kudos to @XRP_Productions on another unique 'XRP' video.
The Future is Now
While 2017 may have introduced cryptocurrency to the world, 2019 is surely the next step in that communication: We want it. We need it.
And the technology innovations that make real-time payments possible are here to stay, no matter the dim, greed-motivated protestations of a minority of those in charge of large money-center banks around the world.
And which cryptocurrency is the fastest, most scalable, most censorship-resistant, and most decentralized? XRP.
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Filip Mishevski