Greetings and 'Happy Sunday:' The start of a new week is an apt point to look back over the previous few days and review some of the major news items that hit the presses for both crypto, generally, and XRP in specific!
Following is my brief take on each of these primary stories:
General Crypto News
The SEC's FinTech Forum was held on May 31st, and featured four panels; the public discussion was kicked off with opening remarks by Valerie Szczepanik, the Head of FinHub:
FinHub decided to release one continuous recording of the forum from beginning to end, available for streaming directly on their website: I'm in the process of conducting a review of the content, and will write about it more in-depth after viewing each of the individual panel discussions.
When Ripple released episode ten of the Ripple Drop, an astute XRP fan noticed something about the imagery Reinhard Cate chose to use at the beginning:
His prediction of a Swiss office was not far off the mark, and he recently discovered a formal business registration from Ripple, for purposes of launching a subsidiary in that country. The name of the new subsidiary is "Ripple Switzerland LLC."
"... the sale of digital assets XRP to institutional buyers."
The interesting thing to me is where their new subsidiary fits into their overall plan for management of XRP markets. Up until now, all of their XRP sales have been handled out of a US-based subsidiary, known as XRP II.
Does this mean they are now pursuing a more balanced strategy from regulatory risk standpoint, by the founding of a Swiss-based company for the same purpose?
Until Ripple issues a formal announcement, we can only speculate as to the precise purpose of their business filing; I see it as a positive move, quite frankly, due to the US's inadequate approach for clear regulatory guidance for institutions that may opt to utilize digital assets.
It would not surprise me if this step was one of several that Ripple plans for a more international focus; many blockchain technology businesses have actually taken the dramatic step to relocate their legal headquarters in recent years to countries that are supportive of the new technology. My hope is that the US - both legislatively and from an enforcement standpoint - decides to take a proactive approach to preserve US technology leadership.
In November of 2018, a month after the second SWELL conference, we learned of a new money transmitter company that was in the process of acquiring the state-by-state licenses. The news was exciting, because David Anderson, SendFriend's Chief Revenue Officer, indicated that the company would be utilizing Ripple's xRapid liquidity-sourcing solution as part of its technology and finance stack: 3
“That allows us on the back end to be more efficient with our capital. These are real-time settlements so we don't have to do pre-funding, we don't have to park money in the receiving corridor and then manage the foreign exchange risk. We can just do it one by one as the transactions go through.”
It was great news, and on June 5th, the company made their long-awaited go-live announcement:
The service adds to the number of remittance companies already using xRapid, and I'm guessing that as more and more evidence starts to mount about the specific cost savings, that other RippleNet members will opt to activate the option for liquidity sourcing.
Currently, the xRapid payment flows are limited to Mexico and the Philippines, but Ripple has indicated that it's targeting additional high-volume corridors. 4
We are Developers - World Congress Berlin Day2
The WeAreDevelopers conference (called a 'congress' by its German-based organizers) focuses on different technology themes each year. This year's two-day conference focused on five overall themes that seemed centered around scaling, which is a ripe area for discussion overall. More specifically, the conference included speakers from fintech and blockchain, opening up topics that fit nicely into the theme titled "Applying Disruption: Emerging Technologies.
David Schwartz took the stage on day two.
It was refreshing to find out that one of David Schwartz's favorite quotes is also one of mine as well, attributed to Thomas Edison:
"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
It was an apt introduction for David Schwartz on the second day of the "We Are Developers - World Congress Berlin" conference (fast forward to 1:10:00):
After a brief introduction, David Schwartz quickly zeroed in on his message, and introduced it in a way I've never heard before; his explanation clarified and enlarged the concept of digital payments in an intuitive fashion.
David Schwartz drew a memorable diagram with words almost immediately:
"The point that I'm going to make today is that we are sort of in the pre-shipping-container, circuit-switch days of payments; and we're going to be in the standardized ecosystem world of payments where you can interact with payments in incredibly flexible and powerful ways.
And that's going to be a tremendous opportunity for developers to be able to complete that triangle of the physical delivery of goods, the exchange of information, and the movement of money."
The preceding diagram is my own take on his comment.
David Schwartz drove the point home even before completing the rest of his introduction:
"If we can complete that triangle, that's when we'll really see an explosion!"
It was a profound statement, and it set the stage for the remainder of his discussion, where he traversed some familiar territory to some of us, along with sprinkling in his own insights, analogies, and examples.
Some of my other favorite quotes from various parts of his presentation:
"The way blockchain works, it is not possible to lie. Every piece of information is checked for compliance with all system rules by everyone who receives it. And that is the secret sauce of blockchain."
"While Bitcoin was the first technology on the scene, there's now been a diversification; just like nobody, here, I assume, drives a Model T, what we have is diversification for different use cases.
We have trucks for hauling goods. We have sports cars for luxury and comfort. We can see a focus on different use cases. And also we see limitations in the technology that are not fundamental ... you couldn't build a perfect car the first time."
"Let's say I want to start a regional competitor - let's say I want to do an Airbnb just in the Boston area, but I want to take incoming payments from all around the world.
The solution can't be that I hire a hundred payment engineers to make that business work. That can't be the right solution; so this is going to change.
This is broken, and someone is going to fix it. This is a tremendous opportunity."
"The definition of a Bitcoin, or the definition of an XRP, is a chain that you can follow."
"Coil made over a billion payments last year with the average payment being something like a ten-thousandth of a penny. So this is here and working today. That protocol exists today and works today."
"... digital assets. Can they fix payments? The answer is no ... blockchains don't talk to each other. What we need is a protocol that will move value the way IP moves information. We need an internetwork for payments that interconnects everything; and that, I think, will be Interledger."
"Interledger doesn't care where the money is, just like IP doesn't care what network the data flows over. And above it we have complex payment protocols.
Now you might think 'How do I do a complex protocol with a micropayment or a light payment system?'
The same way that you do complicated things on top of IP. You build layers. you build TCP on top of it, to handle the reliability and the ordering. And you build maybe HTTP on top of that. Maybe you have sessions; you have cookies; you build the intelligence at the end-points; and you keep the middle really simple and dumb."
"If I'm right about micropayments ... there's going to be a massive revolution in the way software interacts with money. And that's going to be a tremendous opportunity. That's going to be a whole new multi-billion dollar industry."
"this (RippleNet) is a real network; this is a point-to-point network. It's not a central server like SWIFT or PayPal; this is a decentralized network where financial institutions interact with each other through protocols that are not centrally controlled."
Even though I've seen multiple other presentations about Interledger before, from other phenomenal speakers, this particular presentation by David Schwartz seemed to drive home the points in a way that seemed understandable to audience members from all walks of life. Some people are purely technical or development-oriented, and some are financial; but both of these types of listeners could apprehend the ideas that he conveyed about the Interledger Protocol.
Thanks to Leonidas Hadjiloizou for the link to the source YouTube video.
Episode 13 of the Ripple Drop
On June 7th, Ripple released the latest episode of the "Ripple Drop," their video series that provides an insider's perspective on company initiatives, executive insights, and market intelligence:
This episode was very important to XRP fans, because the topic was 'RippleNet and On-demand Liquidity.'
RippleNet is the general term that Ripple uses for their banking network that now boasts hundreds of business customers, including corporations, banks, and remittance companies. The part that intersects with XRP is contained in the term 'on-demand liquidity.'
'On-demand liquidity' essentially allows businesses to bypass the ordinary requirement that they maintain multiple accounts and banking relationships in other countries if they want to expand beyond their own national borders; while it's a wide umbrella term to describe a benefit to customers that are a member of RippleNet, one of the specific things it can do is to use regulated crypto exchanges, and remittance operators to settle payments in real-time using XRP.
The video started with Pegah Soltani, Ripple's Senior Market Intelligence Manager, explaining how businesses benefit from their membership in RippleNet, and she specifically called out 'emerging markets' as a focal point where Ripple sees one of their biggest opportunities for lowering costs.
The term 'emerging markets' basically means developing nations where large numbers of un-banked typically have trouble accessing traditional financial services. 5
Reinhard Cate, Ripple's Head of Content, then switched to a discussion with Kevin Mole, Ripple's Vice President of Product Marketing, to discuss how RippleNet addresses on-demand liquidity for its customers. He indicated that:
"... the 'receive countries' that we have available right now are in Mexico and the Philippines. Thirty-one billion dollars every year going into Mexico; thirty-three billion dollars every year going into the Philippines ..."
and that these two corridors would be:
"... the first of many corridors that we will open up this year."
Of course, this had many of us in the XRP community wondering about the new corridors; the potential of quick expansion of xRapid is a plentiful source of speculation.
Reinhard Cate rounded out the two-minute update with an interview of Craig DeWitt, Ripple's Director of Product Management, who talked about how the latest software update added substantial new capabilities to RippleNet. Given my own personal experience in software deployment, the most impressive quote was the one provided during this last segment, when Craig DeWitt stated:
"... someone new to RippleNet can get going; not in weeks, but in days."
For those that work in Information Technology, this time frame for a production implementation is spectacular; one of the reasons that some highly-adopted platforms and software are used by various businesses is the ease with which they can be added to an already-existing technology stack.
A time frame of 'days' is amazing in this respect.
Applause goes to Reinhard Cate on another great episode of the Ripple Drop, and hopefully he releases some of the associated deep dive discussions that he's done in the past, where the interviewees elaborate on the abbreviated points in the original two-minute 'Drop' update.
On June 5th, an XRP fan, @RipplePandaXRP (Twitter avatar), noticed that the company now supported XRP as one of its accepted payment currencies:
In addition to gold, the site supports sale of silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium. For those that don't want to deal with personal delivery and custody of precious metal, the company also offers custody services for those in the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Hong Kong. This service will also facilitate further trading of the same bullion online. 7
On June 6th, @SwissXRP, the same fan that discovered Ripple's formation of a new company in Switzerland, noticed that the Vontobel had formally announced a new product for its customers whereby the instrument's purchasers could participate in XRP's market performance via a 'certificate,' which sounds like a type of derivative. 9
It's not clear to me whether the instrument actually involves the purchase and custody of XRP: My direct message to Vontobel asking about this clarification was not returned as of the time of this writing.
While the demand for market derivatives sometimes may not directly impact demand for XRP, it's worth noting when these types of financial instruments are introduced worldwide, it's evidence of further mainstream financial adoption for XRP and crypto overall.
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Cover Art: Thank you to Florian Steffen