July is here, signaling the mid-year checkpoint for those of us in crypto.
For XRP, the first half of the year wound up including multiple incredible announcements, both for XRP and for digital assets.
We saw innumerable investments by Ripple via their Xpring Initiative, which awarded investment to a large number of businesses, in support of its goals:
- Custody of XRP
And wrapping up the quarter, we saw the two headlines for both Ripple and Coil: A strategic investment in MoneyGram and Imgur, respectively.
The first part - Xpring investments - had to be done from the ground-up, as digital asset capabilities that these companies represent typically don't exist yet. And Ripple was quick to identify and act on the opportunity to build the necessary tools for the next evolution of the Internet of Value (IoV).
But with MoneyGram and Imgur, we saw that Ripple was more than ready to leverage its capital to acquire capabilities that were already well-proven.
When Ripple hired Ron Will, I knew immediately that they anticipated the need for help in navigating through rapid growth, multi-company investments and perhaps also in determining their own future. While I don't think they have an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in mind, it's great to see them actively invest in these strategic partnerships.
For XRP holders, having a strong and capable championing organization is a massive advantage when it comes to increasing levels of utility. Those new to crypto will find that there is one digital asset positioned perfectly for two of the largest use cases for blockchain technology: cross-border payments and micropayments.
General Crypto News
The world should turn away from cryptocurrencies that utilize energy-intensive 'proof-of-work' mining. In prior blogs, I've communicated the heavy energy drain that Bitcoin places on the world, and because of the way it's designed, those numbers will only get worse over time.
And while Bitcoin maximalists and apologists unbelievably still defend Bitcoin's environmental destruction by using illogical arguments about 'renewable energy' (as if nobody else would use renewable energy if it were not being used for Bitcoin), the other side of the coin is Bitcoin's immense 'electronic waste.'
What is 'electronic waste?'
Electronic waste is comprised of the ingredients in specialized processors and other equipment - often heavy metals or toxic materials. This equipment, because of the modifications that have been made solely for the purpose of proof-of-work 'mining,' is not use-able for any other function.
Digiconomist, a popular digital trends website, indicated that one Bitcoin transaction generates the equivalent electronic waste of 10,000 VISA transactions:
The article made the recommendation that Bitcoin:
"replace its mining mechanism."
Of course, this won't happen, because very powerful interests - the mining consortium members - make money off of this environmentally-destructive, outdated, and unscalable approach to transaction validation.
A far more logical choice would be for the world to use other technology where clear advancements have been made in decentralized transaction validation. The banking and remittance world is leaning towards XRP. It's past time for publications like Digiconomist to stop playing an (unintended) protectionist role, and treat the word 'cryptocurrency' as more than just Bitcoin.
At the 2018 edition of SWELL, Prajit Nanu, InstaReM's CEO, co-presented a talk titled 'How Payments Improved Our Customer Experience,' where he indicated that the time of implementation was 'under 3 months.' It was a phenomenal demonstration of how easy Ripple has made its software product implementations.
At the time, all we knew about was InstaReM's implementation of xCurrent & xVia, but then two months later it was also confirmed that they were working towards implementation of xRapid.
Because xRapid is Ripple's liquidity-sourcing solution that utilizes XRP, the XRP fan base has been tracking InstaReM a bit more closely, and on July 1st, Bloomberg reported that InstaReM would be one of the companies that will seek out Singapore's newly-available 'Digital Banking License,' which is issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
Singapore is only granting a title of two full licenses and three digital licenses. InstaReM is aiming for one of the three digital banking licenses.
InstaReM should be one of the strongest contenders for a license: they are a quickly-growing remittance powerhouse, handling payments to over 54 countries. In the United States, they are partnered with the Community Federal Savings Bank, which I'm guessing affords them with necessary remittance-related services.
However, it's easy to see how useful a Singapore-based banking license would be in pursuing specific corridors, services, and vertical integration cost savings.
Good luck to InstaReM, and I'm eager to see how they might use a digital banking license to achieve greater operational capabilities and efficiencies.
SendFriend is the new remittance company that started in 2018, targeting the remittance corridor from New Jersey to the Philippines. The company gained fame because of its planned use of xRapid, Ripple's solution for dynamically sourcing liquidity via XRP.
On June 27th, SendFriend announced that they were going live, and indicated that they are up-and-running with xRapid:
The message was a positive confirmation, which is one type of communication that the XRP Community enjoys; often we are left to wonder at which aspects of a solution are being implemented with some formal partnership announcements.
Slowly and steadily, the xRapid transaction volumes are growing. As more players such as MoneyGram start to use the service, I expect that it will have a positive and increasing effect on the network's liquidity and order book depth.
Money Tap is the domestic payment processing application developed by SBI Ripple Asia, an organization that was the result of a combined investment of both SBI Group and Ripple.
The application was rolled out in October of 2018 with limited integration, covering three of the fourteen banks supporting the effort:
- Suminobu SBI Net Bank
- Suruga Bank Co., Ltd.
- Resona Bank Co., Ltd.
The formal announcement indicated that more banks would eventually be supporting the application, and on June 26th, it was announced that seven additional banks had now signed up for inclusion in Money Tap:
- Ashiga Bank
- Shimane Bank
- Chikubo Bank
- Toho Bank
- Towa Bank
- Fukushima Bank
- (One un-named bank)
SBI created a specific component called the 'Fintech Platform,' which seems to be an API-driven application that other banks can 'call' to process a Money Tap payment. According to the article announcing the additional seven members of the Money Tap group of banks, at least five of those are organizations which SBI claims have been 'Introduced" to the FinTech Platform. Six more are categorized as 'In Preparation,' which may mean testing or development.
SBI treads carefully and deliberately when it comes to implementation, and fearlessly drives innovations behind the scenes, which has provided a continued competitive advantage for the company.
The addition of seven more banks to Money Tap demonstrates the positive nature of the application and, most likely, customer reviews. It's great news, and hopefully we'll hear about more Japanese banks joining the network.
Thanks to @XrpCenter for the notification about the new members of SBI's Money Tap group of banks.
Scooter Braun Acquires Big Machine Label Group
This deal gives him access to the back catalog of Big Machine Label Group, which includes, controversially, the early catalog of Taylor Swift.
The reason those of us in the XRP Community track Scooter Braun's business dealings is because his companies have received Xpring funding, ostensibly for content monetization or to integrate content delivery with cryptopayments, although the long-term vision has never been described at more than a high level. One article from over a year ago quoted Cory Johnson, saying:
"Xpring is a way for us to invest in, partner with and help develop a community of businesses using XRP as a fundamental technology ...
(Braun) is looking at XRP, and we are going to help him partner to use XRP."
@stedas (Twitter avatar) is a skilled graphical artist in the XRP Community: He's created many charts, diagrams, and graphics over time, capturing data and insights about XRP, its network, its champion organizations and proponents, and its online community.
His latest creation is a poster that attempts to capture and summarize the most prolific community participants for XRP, and it was no small task:
The link in the tweet leads to an order form where individuals can order the poster from him for a variety of pricing options, plus shipping. And for those curious, he accepts crypto as payment, including XRP. He indicated on the site that the poster will be 'ready to be shipped' after July 5th.
In a Twitter direct message, he elaborated on the project a bit:
"𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘸𝘦𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘧𝘰𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘩𝘪𝘤 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘸𝘴 𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳 600 𝘮𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘟𝘙𝘗 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘷𝘪𝘴𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘰𝘳𝘨𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘻𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴: 𝘛𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳, 𝘠𝘰𝘶𝘛𝘶𝘣𝘦, 𝘟𝘙𝘗 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘴. 𝘔𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘭𝘱𝘩𝘢𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺; 𝘈-𝘡 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘦𝘳 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨/𝘴𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨.
𝘕𝘰𝘸, 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘪𝘵 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘵 𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘰𝘳 𝘰𝘧𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘦.
𝘗𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘱𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘥𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘭 𝘧𝘪𝘭𝘦 (𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘦) 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘢 𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘵 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘱."
Of course, no effort at capturing individuals visually in a group happens without oversights and mistakes; in fact, it was inevitable that he'd miss some people, despite having sent out multiple notifications informing the community of his project.
In response, he is reminding individuals that may have been overlooked in the 2019 version to keep focused on 2020, as he will be working on the next one as 2019 closes out.
Congrats to @stedas on an amazing graphical contribution to the community.
XRPL Labs Launches TestNet Node
XRPL Labs, the Xpring business that's developing three highly-anticipated applications for XRP owners, announced on June 28th that they'd deployed an XRP TestNet validator:
For those that don't already know, the Test Net is a 'testing' version of the XRP Ledger, using 'fake XRP' that can be used by anybody to learn about transactions and other XRP functions. It's open for anybody to use.
XRPL Labs will be using it to test their own software as it's developed.
To learn more about the Test Net, you can refer to the official documentation here: https://xrpl.org/xrp-test-net-faucet.html
Tool For Parsing UNL
If you run a validator, you may be interested in a new tool published by @RabbitKickClub (Twitter avatar):
@RabbitKickClub runs a validator that is included on the 'default' UNL for XRP.
The tool is written in Python, and will return a JSON list of the UNL validators in a 'base58' encoded format. For more information, consult the Github repository: https://github.com/crypticrabbit/xrpl_unl_parser
Bibles & Blockchain
Forbes decided to produce a short biographical piece on Thomas Silkjaer, (arguably) the most skilled forensic data analyst when it comes to the XRP Ledger.
For those already in the XRP Community, most probably recognize him as the champion of the new group 'XRP Forensics,' an all-volunteer group of researchers, businesses, UNL members, and other stakeholders that have devoted their own time to help prevent financial crimes against those in the XRP Community.
In some cases, he's helped track down criminals for the victims of digital asset theft.
But he's also known for transforming the XRP Ledger into a graph database, and for creating art from the ledger data he's obtained:
In the video, Forbes profiled him and described a little bit more about Thomas, noting that, by day, he helps design bibles. This eye for design aesthetics may have been part of what helps him create compelling data-based artwork as well; it was a fascinating, short biographical segment for those that are curious about the mind behind this impressive XRP Community member.
Coinfirm is a company that performs data analysis on blockchain networks as part of its 'AML' series of products and services.
With offices listed in the UK & Poland, the company lists three different products as part of its offerings, and recently sent out a tweet that communicated their support for the XRP Ledger.
Two days earlier, on June 26th, Forbes reported that the company had inked a deal with Ripple to provide data analytics and AML compliance services.
In addition to Ripple, Coinfirm's website indicates an Ethereum-centric beginning, perhaps because of the popularity of ICOs during the 2017-2018 time frame: they list ERC-20 tokens as their main focus. It will be interesting to see if they also aim for XRP Gateway operators - and their XRPL tokens - as a potential new customer group.
My own speculation about their target market aside, it's worth recognizing the company's addition to the list of organizations that offer services related to XRP.
Falcon Private Bank
While we've seen various businesses enter the crypto space and offer custody solutions, it's rare that a bank does so. One of the first banks to step forward and offer a crypto custody solution is 'Falcon Private Bank,' and the organization sent out an announcement about it on June 26th, specifically calling out XRP and Stellar:
Falcon Private Bank is a Swiss bank founded in 1965, with approximately 300 employees worldwide. The bank was originally part of AIG Privat Bank AG, before it was sold to Aabar Investments in 2009.
The bank is offering its new crypto custody solution to both individuals and institutions, and will operate as a fiat on-ramp. It may be easier to visualize this new configuration as 'What would a crypto exchange look like if it were a bank,' since the new service also supports segregated crypto wallets, and allows for withdrawal to a private wallet.
The trend of banks becoming crypto exchanges or on-ramps is something that I predict we're going to see more of in the future. Notably, the announcement from Falcon Private Bank is yet another 'Swiss-related' news item to bubble up in recent weeks.
Bring on the Second Half of 2019
The news cycle is quickening for XRP, and the second half of 2019 will see this trend continue.
It's important to keep up-to-date on the latest news impacting XRP, the fastest, most scalable, secure, and decentralized digital asset on the planet. Subscribe to my blog on Coil to get the latest information on topics affecting XRP.
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Cover Art: Thank you to Juliana Malta