The news cycle has continued its frenetic pace in the last few days, with multiple exchange announcements, XRP community updates, and a new website for XRP Ledger documentation, organized specifically around community-sourced contributions.
And Ripple finally revealed a new business partnership that had been fueling a large amount of speculation on social media prior to its official announcement. Their latest news built on the first half of 2019, which saw a wide variety of new investments, continued energetic growth of RippleNet, and a steady stream of new customer announcements.
The big news was, of course, the MoneyGram partnership, announced formally by Ripple on June 17th:
Ripple's formal announcement, communicated via an Insights article, indicated that they had entered into a two-year relationship with MoneyGram, and that Ripple would help MoneyGram upgrade its cross-border payment flows. In addition, the article indicated that MoneyGram would also use Ripple's xRapid solution, whereby XRP can be used to settle international payment flows for selected corridors:
"The partnership with Ripple will focus on the xRapid product, a solution for on-demand liquidity, which reduces reliance on pre-funding by enabling money to be sent from one currency and instantly settled in the destination currency.
It leverages XRP, the native digital asset of the XRP Ledger, as a real-time bridge between the sending and receiving currencies.
XRP remains the most efficient digital asset for settlement with transaction fees at just fractions of a penny, compared to other digital asset fees of about $30 per transaction. Similarly, the average transaction time for XRP is two to three seconds with other top digital assets ranging from 15 minutes to an hour."
The CEO of MoneyGram, Alex Holmes, was quoted in the official announcement:
"Through Ripple’s xRapid product, we will have the ability to instantly settle funds from US dollars to destination currencies on a 24/7 basis, which has the potential to revolutionize our operations and dramatically streamline our global liquidity management."
The article also revealed some interesting specifics of the deal, including a financing arrangement whereby MoneyGram can draw up to $50 million dollars in funding in return for ceding Ripple a portion of company equity.
In a follow-up article, Fortune magazine indicated that the deal allows Ripple to purchase between 8% and 10% of MoneyGram for approximately $30 million dollars, which translates to $4.10 cents per share. Another $20 million on top of that will be made available by Ripple over the course of the subsequent two years.
Some members of the XRP Community were of the opinion that Ripple may have actually been pursuing the purchase of MoneyGram; and while I don't comment on rumors very much, I remember thinking that it was 'highly unlikely' that Ripple would directly purchase a money transmitter.
Because Ripple's core business is not to actually compete as a payment processor. Its mission - and it's led by a CEO who's very hallmark is laser focus - is to build the 'plumbing' of international payments. So the fact that Ripple didn't purchase MoneyGram is no surprise to me; however, we must now analyze what this deal means for the entire market, and for Ripple.
Essentially, I'm reading this latest news as 'Ripple investing in the overall remittance market,' not 'Ripple wanting to compete against other remittance operators with MoneyGram.'
The reason I say that is because of the nature of the partnership and its associated goals; it's a limited-time partnership (2 years), and its focus is centered on the upgrade of MoneyGram's cross-border payment processing.
Some people may point at Ripple's potential ownership rights in MoneyGram as proof that it's more than that, but from my perspective, Ripple is more interested in seeing the entire industry adopt its solutions, rather than on backing one specific competitor in that industry. My guess is that Ripple will continue to help all remittance companies willing to join RippleNet and opt-in to using xRapid.
My Take on the MoneyGram Deal
Although I'm still analyzing it from various perspectives, it looks like Ripple has signaled that they are now choosing to take a more active role in counter-acting inertia in the banking and remittance industry. Making a direct deal with MoneyGram charts a path forward using digital assets, and solidifies xRapid's position as a centerpiece of Ripple's solution for real-time settlement.
It's also fascinating to think about from the perspective of the adopting organization.
For new startups like SendFriend, there is very little legacy architecture holding them back from adopting RippleNet's solutions - xRapid included - that can directly enable real-time settlement for cross-border payments. But for older organizations that have to deal with a large legacy technology stack, such as MoneyGram or Western Union, the integration of payment flows using new software might require some additional problem-solving that Ripple can help with.
This latest deal with MoneyGram shows that Ripple is ready to expand its services by playing a much more active role in assisting with large-scale integrations that may involve legacy architectures.
I'd also like to see Ripple chart a path for enabling third parties to install its software; other large software providers have opted for this scaling technique for software adoption, and it might make sense for some of Ripple's solutions. A licensing or certification / partner path might be advantageous for all parties concerned.
But I'm drifting off-topic: For now, it's time to celebrate an incredible business partnership between Ripple, the most cutting-edge Silicon Valley payments company, and MoneyGram, the world's second-largest payment processor!
Kudos to the entire Ripple team on this significant milestone.
The Commerce International Merchant Bankers Group (CIMB Group) is a large international bank headquartered in Malaysia; it has tens of thousands of international employees, with branches in 18 countries. 1
It's the fifth-largest bank in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); this geographic collection of countries handles remittances measured at over $100 billion dollars. 2
Last November, Ripple announced that CIMB had joined RippleNet, and wrote about it as well in a Ripple Insights article. CIMB announced that Ripple technology had already been deployed to enhance their proprietary remittance product, called 'SpeedSend.' 3
On June 11th, CIMB published a new video that highlighted SpeedSend, indicating that it 'runs on Ripple:'
As more remittance processors join RippleNet, the entire network grows stronger and more liquid, with banks and other stakeholders forming new relationships with each other. No doubt CIMB's foray into real-time settlement has been noted by business partners and competitors alike; and the 'runs on Ripple' will probably become a common footnote for multiple remittance applications in the future.
International Day of Family Remittances
June 16th was the International Day of Family Remittances, and Ripple released the first episode in a new video series collectively titled "Pay Forward:"
The video profiled a migrant worker named Joyce de Guzman, who works as a waitress in the UAE, and regularly sends money home to the Philippines.
The video talked briefly about the long hours she works, and provided some introductory statistics about how many people worldwide (800 million) are supported by remittance payments. It then delved into her own specific experience in having to use traditional wire services to send her daughters money, and ended with the message "Ripple can help you help customers like Joyce."
It was a concise and powerful demonstration of what remittance payments really mean on a human level, and was produced by Reinhard Cate, Ripple's Head of Content who is also responsible for a variety of other Ripple productions, including the 'Ripple Drop' series of videos.
Hopefully we see more of these 'Pay Forward' videos; this one was a high-impact reminder of how real-time settlement can help many families worldwide.
The largest organization that champions usage of XRP is Ripple.
Due to that status, they have taken on the responsibility of hosting the majority of corporate-produced developer reference material about the XRP Ledger; the content and its publishing platform have undergone multiple iterations, and the latest one was announced on June 14th via a new blog entry on Ripple's 'XRP Ledger Blog:'
In prior weeks, the company has added new content to the site, including some interactive tools that help new developers get up to speed much faster.
With this latest update, the changes are far more profound. The site has an entirely new domain and location: https://xrpl.org/ The blog also indicated:
"As the XRP Ledger community continues to grow and as the network becomes further decentralized, it makes sense to have a website that is openly built and maintained by the community, not just by one institution.
All pages in the documentation, use cases, and even developer tools have an "Edit" button you can use to propose corrections, improvements, and additions to the source for the website on GitHub.
Like the XRP Ledger, anyone can contribute to the evolution of xrpl.org by submitting comments, suggestions and/or pull-requests with changes on GitHub.
A team of reviewers from the XRP community will evaluate each request for accuracy, quality and style and approve changes as deemed reasonably appropriate.
With everyone's cooperation, xrpl.org will always host the best community-generated technical content related to the XRP Ledger."
This change is very different from how the site was maintained in the past, and is one more indication of how Ripple is continuing along its decentralization path. In addition to the decentralization of the XRP network itself, the governance of the cryptocurrency's core documentation is also being decentralized.
This development is a fantastic milestone for the XRP Community, and reflects the need to 'clear the path' as XRP continues to be adopted by more financial institutions and remittance processors. My guess is that the amount of community-sourced development will only increase in the near future, and having a site that can include collaborative improvements is a step forward.
"... organize corporate, business and public events, conferences and congresses, and also brand and dialogue spaces ...
... As an event and communication partner, we design and implement experiences and platforms that are aimed at specific target groups and bring together people, brands and markets. We work in specialist teams that we assemble to suit individual assignments. We are your sparring partner for all disciplines of live communication."
The company is based in Switzerland. 5
On June 13th, the company formally announced on their website that they would be accepting XRP as a form of payment. 6
As part of its formal announcement, the company spent some time talking about the important impact that blockchain technology will make, and the specific reasons they chose XRP, as well as the factors that drove their decision:
"... by committing to blockchain technology at an early stage, we can ensure prompt compatibility with new business models and markets.
... We want to become part of the crypto-economy at an early stage and acquire experience in this area. As a purchaser of international services, we will at some point be confronted with these payment options in any case.
... our acceptance of XRP is about much more than embracing a new payment method: It represents our entry into the blockchain economy."
Standing Ovation has chosen to accept XRP as a form of direct payment, and I'm guessing that it will eventually smooth operations in its own business; not having to worry about multiple currencies and instead providing a liquid digital asset as a form of payment is a positive development. It's not clear to me if their decision includes both their own vendor payments and their customer's payments, but regardless, it's a high-profile development that will remind business customers of how digital assets are transforming daily life.
Paralect and goLance
Paralect is a company that specializes in building messaging software that can be used in a variety of industries and contexts; the team lists a variety of their clients on their formal website, and one of them is a company called goLance. 7
On June 12th, Paralect indicated that they'd 'worked with goLance since 2014' and had: 8
"... developed a solution to add the Ripple Network to the long list of goLance payment integrations.
This will allow fast and secure cross-border payment solutions via digital asset."
It's not certain exactly what's meant by this statement; perhaps it has to do with a RippleNet integration and hence, xRapid, and perhaps it has to do more with providing a cryptocurrency 'cash-out' option in XRP.
Some XRP fans noted that goLance lists 'Ripple' as one of the companies that they work with on their official website, in the page that focuses on payments.
Secalot and Bithomp
Bithomp has consistently maintained and continued to upgrade its site with additional capabilities.
Long known as one of the most popular XRP Ledger explorers available, Bithomp also contains a wide variety of other helpful tools and applications for XRP owners. The team has recently added price alerts, a nickname service, and now they've integrated some of their functions with a hardware wallet login:
The two hardware wallets that Bithomp supports are the Ledger, and Secalot.
When a user opts to login using their hardware wallet, they are able to submit signed transactions through the Bithomp user interface, as depicted in the video. This is an option used by various online wallet services, and is a convenient feature for those looking to communicate signed transactions to the XRP Ledger.
Note: I do not personally endorse any wallet.
Bgogo is a new exchange that is partially financed by its own exchange token, the 'BGG.' The whitepaper indicates that the site itself is 'registered in the Cayman Islands,' while some XRP fans found documentation on LinkedIn that indicates a headquarters in California. 9 10
On June 16th, Bgogo announced that they'd be adding three pairings for XRP starting two days later on June 18th:
Three trading pairs for XRP were included in the announcement, but only the BTC and USDT pairing were called out specifically with implementation dates.
New exchanges are always welcome news, and Bgogo adds to the numbers that support XRP pairings.
Thanks to Leonidas Hadjiloizou for finding information about Bgogo's platform update.
The exchange's platform is advertised as being 'Next Generation AI-powered,' and the site gives some hint where its machine learning algorithms are used. OceanEx includes a mobile application available on iOS and Android. 15
On June 16th, OceanEx formally announced that they'd be adding support for two new XRP pairings: XRP-VET and XRP-USDT. VET is the crypto-currency 'VeChain,' and with this listing, is paired with XRP on a total of three exchanges.
Developments are Moving Fast
Like the digital asset XRP, news about the Internet of Value's continued progress is moving fast.
There is a need, that, though invisible, can be felt as we look around the world at the current state of remittance processing. New technology companies are springing up, working with Ripple to bring about real-time settlement of cross-border payments. And now, the second-largest remittance processor in the world is also implementing xRapid, Ripple's solution that utilizes XRP for settlement.
Customers' expectations are increasing, and without exception, it seems, every major international leadership organization has recognized that real-time payments represent inevitable progress.
To stay current on the news affecting XRP - and the entire Internet of Value, subscribe to my blog here on the XRP Community Blog, and on Coil. And make sure to support other content-creators in the XRP Community as well!
Sources and Credits:
Cover Art: Thank you to Eugene Zhyvchik