/ Ecosystem

XRP & Ripple: A Week of Viral Publicity, Liquidity Boosts, and Another Central Bank Mention

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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Attention to details.

It can make or break the best of us – even the most high-performing individuals.  Getting the little things right is what sets apart planners and tacticians from the mundane personalities.  We know this type of personality – either we are one naturally, we’ve been trained to be like one, or we know one.

I’d like to consider myself in the second category – I’m not naturally a detailed-oriented type of personality, but I was trained to be like one in the technology field.

That being said, I don’t approach the level of extraordinary planning ability that Ripple employees seem to exhibit.  They are always thinking several moves ahead, and even when they’re interacting naturally, it seems like each of their seemingly-relaxed perspectives conforms to long-term strategic goals.  Over the course of the time I’ve been paying attention to XRP and Ripple, I’ve noticed that precision is a core strength – of their architects, cryptographers, developers, business leaders and marketers.

Another company known for its attention to detail is Apple, and particularly its late founder and leader, Steve Jobs.  In Steve Job's own words: steve_jobs

“Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.”
It was a wise belief – and it helped him build the Apple brand into a symbol of technological marvel and excellence; love or hate Apple, one cannot argue with the power it wields through widespread adoption of its technology.  This attention to detail and the driving need to ‘get it right,’ were core aspects of not only Steve Jobs’ approach, but the entire company’s.

When I’ve been observing Ripple recently, although there is an effort to increase interaction with the XRP community, I appreciate the fact that they are also staying focused on their core mission and objectives; and I am thankful that they are led by a CEO who, even before leading Ripple, had a well-earned reputation for preserving focus on singular strengths.  Brad Garlinghouse has taken Ripple and XRP a long ways, always consistently focused on the company’s long-term strategic goals.

At the Yahoo All Markets Summit, one of the interviewers showed the audience a price chart for XRP, and confronted Brad Garlinghouse about the fluctuating numbers.  Brad’s response: 1

“The price of XRP over three hours, over three days, over three weeks, or even three months; that is not success.  That’s not how I measure success.  I think about success over the next three to five years.”

Ripple in the News

Ripple has been cultivating and building their brand in mainstream media, with increasing amounts of public exposure.  This has helped get the message about their innovations, software, and services out into the public’s eye in a positive way.  No matter what role that their staff plays, it seems that all of them are very well-versed at communicating; it’s this strength that has helped them overcome obstacles and build business alliances.

This ability to communicate has translated to all aspects of their business, including website presence, blogging, video production, public interviews, conference and panel attendance, and live interactions via Reddit and Quora.

This ability to communicate effectively and precisely was put to good use in the past few days, as mainstream media coverage suddenly picked up a notch.  The big news story was unquestionably Ripple’s massive charitable donation. 2

Philanthropy

In its corporate history, Ripple has a track record of philanthropic efforts.  As an early XRP fan, I was around when Ripple ran a promotion with the Computing for Good initiative.  Computing for Good participants could donate their spare CPU cycles to help worthy causes, while at the same time receiving a reward of XRP.  It garnered a lot of attention for XRP along with helping the efforts supported by Computing for Good.

And then there’s Mojaloop, where Ripple partnered with the Gates Foundation to create a set of open-source software tools to help the financially under-served in the developing areas of the world. 3 4

This trend continued in a very big way on March 27th, with Ripple donating $29 million dollars’ worth of XRP to DonorsChoose.org, which handles various charitable causes that center on helping teachers and public education.

What is “Donors Choose?”

DonorsChoose was started by a public high school teacher:  It works to allow teachers and other public education employees the ability to create what are called “classroom requests” for various charitable causes related to public education.   It’s a simple and beautiful concept – a website and charitable distribution center that helps match donors with a request for help.

The person making the donation can choose an individual request and then donate to it, helping to fund one or more causes.  I went to the website to see for myself, and it looks something like this:

donorsChoose

The site’s popularity has spread quickly, and before Ripple’s donation, there were over 35,000 requests active on the site.

Then Ripple decided to fill all the requests.

The news was profiled on Insights, with a joint video announcement between the founder of Donor’s Choose, Charles Best, and Ripple’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Monica Long:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=MWtUoDjMXZk

The news went viral on social media, with the Late Show profiling the donation to a massive mainstream audience:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pH0eBvOGH3I

The mainstream press also picked up the story, and it was even tweeted by Ashton Kutcher: 5

AshtonKutcher

This was an unprecedented act of charity, and was an incredible win-win for both Ripple and Donor’s Choose.  While Ripple could have easily purchased the equivalent of six Superbowl ads with that same amount of money, they instead opted to help draw attention to a worthy cause, and also to single-handedly fill all existing needs for that same charity.

I cannot express strongly enough my own enthusiastic support for this donation, as well as how Ripple created a situation where it was easily a win-win for all stakeholders concerned.  Leave it to team Ripple to create a moment like that- kudos to their team!

Asia Tour Update

In a recent blog, I talked about the Tour De Schwartz that Ripple had announced and profiled on their Insights page: The tour primarily focuses on David Schwartz’s planned stops at numerous Asia locations where he will interact with XRP fans, developers, and potential business partners.  Recent news from his tour included some notes from the Slush (Tokyo) conference, along with pictures on Twitter: 6 JoelKatz_Slush_tokyo

The next stop on the tour?  The Deconomy conference in Seoul, South Korea.  From its literature, Deconomy describes itself as: 7 8

“…an organization that strives to develop the concept of distributed economy, in which every economic participant performs one’s role based on financial incentives and achieves consensus without the need for central authority or intermediary.  Deconomy believes that the invention of blockchain technology will drive the paradigm shift toward open financial protocols and evolution of traditional industry to gain efficiency.  Deconomy’s primary purpose is to educate the public and create a platform for intellectual discussion and debates.”
Hopefully Ripple can release some videos from selected points along David Schwartz’s tour – however, I understand if there are copyright rules or other obstacles to sharing conference content with the XRP fan base.

Liquidity: XRP Exchanges

In the last four days, we’ve had some amazing news about exchanges added to the XRP ecosystem.  Yes, we get exchange news all the time – at this point it’s tough to find an exchange that doesn’t offer XRP.

What makes the recent additions so remarkable, however, has to do with not only the additional liquidity added to the network, but also the additional fiat-XRP currency pairings.  As the diversity of the currency pairings increases, the global reach of XRP – and Ripple – increases, supporting new corridors for ForEx trading.

TDAX

TDAX is based in Thailand.  It now supports the direct currency pairing for XRP-Thai Baht.  The Thai Baht is the native fiat currency for Thailand.  TDAX is currently a small-volume exchange that offers a variety of Thai-based pairings. 9 10

tdax_tweetWhile the exchange is small now, Thailand is a country of approximately seventy million people. 11 It’s per-capita GDP is lower than South Korea, but it’s a major remittance player, with 2017 remittance levels tracked at $6.5 billion by the World Bank. 12 13

London Block Exchange

The London Block Exchange (LBX) is an exchange application.  Their mobile app lets users trade in Bitcoin, other cryptos, and now XRP. 14

If you are from the UK, and you have GBP (British Pound Sterling), there are a limited number of exchanges where you can purchase crypto, and even less that offer GBP/XRP pairings; when I last searched Coinmarketcap’s listings, I found only one other exchange called “Cryptomate” that offered an XRP/GBP pairing. 15

Because of this limited availability, the addition of the London Block Exchange to the XRP ecosystem was great news – it provides a second alternative for those in the United Kingdom who want to transition their fiat into XRP.  It will definitely be worthwhile to track the volume and growth of this exchange as 2018 moves forward.

Uphold

Uphold was announced previously, but they moved quickly to finish adding XRP to their listings. 16 Remember, this was the same exchange that Gregg Kidd invested in not too long ago, and it promised to focus on Ripple-centric projects.  It also conducted a poll to see which cryptocurrency to add to its roster, and XRP won that vote handily. 17

What makes Uphold so special is the raw number of its XRP pairings, along with extremely low fees.  The coinjournal reported: 18

“Starting today, Uphold members can purchase XRP with zero fees for the first five million XRP purchased.  They will be able to trade these against 23 fiat currencies, four precious metals, and seven different cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, ether, litecoin, and most recently added dash.”
It’s this massive number of potential markets and pairings that makes the Uphold listing so attractive – not just to Uphold's member base, but also to Ripple as well.  Miguel Vias, Ripple’s Head of XRP Markets, tweeted out the following reaction: 19

Miguel_Vias_Uphold

Like LBX and TDAX, we’ll have to watch the numbers that emerge from Uphold trading now that XRP is available.

Note about Coinmarketcap:  In researching the news about both the London Block Exchange (LBX) and Uphold, I noticed that neither are listed as exchanges, and are not tracked by CMC. 20This leads me to believe that the numbers published by Coinmarketcap do not accurately reflect the volume for not only XRP, but for other cryptocurrencies as well.  I’m not sure if another consolidator exists that has the same level of overage, but it’s something to keep in mind when looking at volume numbers.

ICOs on the XRP Ledger?

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are normally done on the Ethereum network, because Ethereum makes creating new tokens easy, and the process for creating a smart contract that can automatically process token payments is well-established.

However, the XRP Ledger is also able to handle ICOs, and has a built-in system for any user to be able to create and issue a token.  This has led some to create ICOs on the XRP Ledger in the past, first as an experiment, and then as actual ICOs.  The process was pioneered by community members, and recently an ICO appeared on XRP Chat.  I do not offer any opinions on ICOs, but if you want to see the ICO listing for yourself, it can be found here: 21  https://www.xrpchat.com/topic/21778-ann-allvor-cryptocurrency-for-e-commerce-powered-by-the-xrp-ledger/

Now the question has turned from ‘is it possible to have an ICO on the XRP Ledger?” to “should we support ICOs being conducted on the XRP Ledger?”

My opinion is that yes, we should support the idea of ICOs being conducted on the XRP Ledger.  That’s not to say that I’m encouraging people to blindly purchase new ICO tokens; what I mean by that is that the additional demand and volume created by ICOs has been only given to one network thus far; Ethereum.  This additional demand has obviously had a positive (historical) effect on the price of Ethereum, discounting the market deflation that took place from mid-January to the present day.  While Ethereum has run into trouble with scalability issues in the past22 by hosting ICOs, the XRP Ledger can handle many times the throughput of the Ethereum network; and it’s much more integrated with the current and future banking and payments infrastructure.

I would also add the caveat that we would like to see only legitimate ICOs happen on the XRP Ledger.  While there's no way to stop anybody from building on the XRP Ledger and using its capabilities, ICOs can also add their share of baggage to a network, such as distracting regulatory attention.

Whatever network ICO planners decide to use, XRP is destined to be the primary unit of value when moving money back and forth across borders: For future ICO entrepreneurs, it’s something to consider.

Central Banks

Ripple has been focusing on central banks for some time.  Two of them are officially Ripple customers – both the Bank of England (BOE) and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA).  These high-profile wins have helped Ripple extend RippleNet to the far corners of the globe and served to remind the banking industry where the future of cross-border value transfer is heading.

Keeping with this momentum, it was not surprising to find Ripple mentioned in a whitepaper released by the Netherland Central Bank recently. 23

Here is an excerpt:

Netherlands_Central_Bank

This mention comes quickly on the heels of a reference in a whitepaper just a few days earlier, issued from Ireland’s Department of Finance. 24

More and more central banks are considering the benefits of joining RippleNet – it will be fascinating to count up how many of them complete production integrations by the end of 2018.

Pay Attention to the Details - Because They are Amazing

The momentum has steadily been building behind XRP’s adoption – through even the latest crypto market downturn.  The number of central banks, remittance processors, and others that are adopting Ripple technology and XRP for liquidity is growing day by day.

The XRP community is likewise continuing to contribute to the understanding of the technology, clearing up misconceptions of new XRP investors.  Everybody is playing a part in this multi-year drama of digital asset adoption, and progress is being made at a level that we’ve not seen prior to this point.  The flow of daily news items, adoption statistics, and regulatory news can sometimes seem overwhelming.

But it’s imperative for all of us – not just the central players like Brad Garlinghouse and Chris Larsen – to be cognizant of the details that abound in the context of a fast-moving company in one of the newest fintech markets.  When we communicate with XRP newbies, others on social media, and especially in public-facing forums, we should all make an effort to remember that Steve Jobs was right – details matter.

Ripple understood this as early as 2012 and has been exemplifying that concept ever since. ripple-symbol3

Sources:

  1. https://youtu.be/kyWZzgZN3wo
  2. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/28/ripple-gives-away-29-million-of-its-cryptocurrency-to-public-schools.html
  3. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/Media-Center/Press-Releases/2017/10/Bill-Melinda-Gates-Foundation-Releases-Open-Source-Software-to-Expand-Access-to-Financial-Services
  4. http://mojaloop.io/
  5. https://twitter.com/aplusk/status/979025352986042368
  6. https://twitter.com/Ripple/status/979761128044560384
  7. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gB6guFvJ8ei_dKaU3BXDU0Z8zLezjnwZ/view
  8. https://www.deconomy.com/
  9. https://www.cryptoninjas.net/2018/03/28/thai-digital-asset-exchange-adds-ripple-xrp-trading/
  10. https://twitter.com/TDAXOfficial/status/978311893482749953
  11. https://coinmarketcap.com/exchanges/tdax/
  12. http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/migrationremittancesdiasporaissues/brief/migration-remittances-data  (Annual Remittances Data Inflows)
  13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand
  14. https://coinjournal.net/london-block-exchange-adds-ripple-more-coins-to-follow/
  15. https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/ripple/#markets
  16. https://coinjournal.net/uphold-adds-xrp-following-us57-5m-investment-from-ripple-investor-and-former-exec/
  17. https://twitter.com/UpholdInc/status/976128915801427969
  18. https://coinjournal.net/uphold-adds-xrp-following-us57-5m-investment-from-ripple-investor-and-former-exec/
  19. https://twitter.com/miguelvias/status/979470343092953088
  20. https://coinmarketcap.com/exchanges/volume/24-hour/
  21. https://www.xrpchat.com/topic/21778-ann-allvor-cryptocurrency-for-e-commerce-powered-by-the-xrp-ledger/
  22. https://www.coindesk.com/ethereums-cryptokitties-blockchain-deluge-sparks-ico-delay/
  23. https://www.dnb.nl/en/binaries/Annex%20to%20the%20Vision%20on%20innovations%20in%20the%20payment%20system_tcm47-332794.pdf
  24. http://www.finance.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Virtual-Currencies-and-Blockchain-Technology-March-2018.pdf

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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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