Expert pool & snooker players make it look easy. In the United States where I’m from, it’s all about pool – or what we call the game of eight-ball. I played pool a bit in college as a way to blow off steam between classes or exams; the student union had a room with video games and pool tables. One of my friends used to prefer pool, so we usually plunked our quarters down at a table and waited our turn.
I’m an amateurish type of player; even though I consider myself quite skilled at the basic shots, anything that required me to hit off of the edges or calculate angles was a bit tricky; my percentages on those shots was fairly low. However, there was another student that seemed to be a formally-trained player who I watched now and again as he demolished challenger after challenger.
I didn’t see him all the time, but when I did, I remember remarking internally that he ‘made it look easy.’
Other players would even watch what he did and determine that they could somehow meet or exceed his performance. Or perhaps they just assumed that luck played a role in his amazing record, and in his ability to run the table at times. After studying him over the course of many games, and analyzing his play, however, I determined that nothing was left to chance. He just made it look like it was left to chance.
It’s something to keep in mind when analyzing the performance metrics and market adoption of XRP. Ripple makes it look easy. But is it? Was any luck involved? Or is Ripple’s success at gaining traction with banks and other financial institutions more a result of hard work, careful planning, and the application of the scientific method on the markets and other variables that impact volume and price? If you want to know my opinion, just know that I do not believe in faith-based investing, and you’ll arrive at your answer.
General Crypto News Impacting XRP
Fidelity is a well-known name in retail investing. It’s an established player in the personal finance market, and its trading platform(s) are quite popular in mainstream stock trading.
Now, it seems, Fidelity wants in on crypto.
A reporter who found specific job announcements broke the story; Fidelity was recently found advertising for positions that require blockchain technology knowledge or proficiency, to augment the staff assigned to an internal Fidelity effort to create a new crypto exchange. The ads also indicated that Fidelity is working on asset custody solutions as well, meaning that it might offer custody solutions to customers as part of its blockchain services portfolio. The actual job description noted that the person hired would: 1
“…help engineer, create, and deploy a Digital Asset exchange to both a public and private cloud.”
Those in the crypto market are speculating about the specific plans that Fidelity has – for example, would their solution be offered as a component of current trading platforms, or would it be considered its own stand-alone site or application? The details are still unclear, but it’s a definite and clear sign that traditional financial companies are now taking steps to plan for the crypto market’s continued existence and impact in personal finance.
Coinrail is a very small exchange. Two days ago, Coinrail released the following statement via their Twitter account: 2
“System checkup due to attempted hacking attack. Some coins (Pundy x, NPXS) have been confirmed and are being checked for additional coin damage. Further details will be reposted/There is a been an cyber intrusion in our system. We're confiming it and some coins (Pundi X, NPXS) are confimed.”
This exchange is very small – Coinrail normally handles around 2-3 million dollars worth of trading per day. 3 However, this hasn’t stopped some crypto writers from trying to pin the blame on the latest market downturn on this hacking attempt. 4 Yes – they do carry two pairings for XRP, but XRP was not involved; instead, two boutique coins were involved.
This hack did not affect major market players such as XRP and Bitcoin. But the fact that some analysts would think that the crypto market is so reactionary worries me to some extent. Are they correct? I don’t think so, but it’s interesting to read through some of the comments and note that it doesn’t take much at all to give the market the “jitters” these days. All of us – not just XRP holders – would like to see greater market stability and steady growth over the wild ups and downs that have been the calling card of the crypto market. Or perhaps we’re just more comfortable with the ‘wild ups’ and not the ‘wild downs’.
The announcement of American Express as a customer was an incredible development for both Ripple and XRP owners. In November of last year, Ripple announced that American Express was a customer – specifically of its xCurrent solution for a specific corridor: B2B payments between the US and the UK.7 For me, it was a great moment that showcased just how Ripple is bringing blockchain technology to mainstream financial business. Even though the announcement was predictably for the conservative-friendly xCurrent solution, which doesn’t necessitate usage of crypto assets, it was a step in the right direction.
Fast forward to Money 20/20 – Europe and we see some recent quotes from American Express about their early work with Ripple. They may decide to grow their partnership with Ripple in two specific areas: 8
• Usage of Ripple technology (specific solution unspecified)
• Fraud prevention
Ripple stated that they are supporting American Express’s efforts at creating an open forum for helping small-and-medium-size businesses communicate about friction with corporate payments. This will help both companies pursue a holistic approach that addresses all aspects of smoothing out cross-border corporate payments.
Colin O’flaherty, VP of American Express, noted:9
“Ripple provides instant Point-to-Point Conversions between the sender and receiver of funds. And (this) offers a real opportunity to solve most of the problems of our customers.”
Marcus Treacher followed up with his own observation about Ripple’s solutions:10
“The consumption of Ripple technology is not a heavy lift for SMEs…This is because we’re implementing within the existing payment networks and banking world.”
To me, this is a key ingredient for fueling adoption by banks, financial institutions, and especially the SME (small and medium sized) market that both Mr. O’flaherty and Mr. Treacher were talking about. Small and medium-sized businesses will opt for lower-cost, lower-complexity solutions that do not require a substantial investment in infrastructure; these businesses need an easy-to-use, plug-and-play type of payments interface for sending value to vendors in other countries.
In any case, it is refreshing to see how Amercian Express, a current Ripple client, is now deciding to expand its services and possibly even consider other Ripple products.
Ripple Donates $50 million
On Monday, June 4rth, Ripple announced a massive new philanthropic endeavor with a twist; it was a $50 million donation that will start a new nonprofit effort known as the University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI). This organization will make strategic investments in universities and other organizations of higher learning to promote education about blockchain technology. 11
In addition to the money, Ripple has indicated that it also includes a more active role for themselves – they plan on participating in the effort by supplying subject matter experts and technical expertise. The goals for the effort include the following:
- Collaborate on research and technical development that will stimulate widespread understanding and innovation in blockchain.
- Create new curriculum to meet high student demand for learning about blockchain, cryptocurrency and other FinTech topics.
- Stimulate ideas and dialog among students, faculty, technologists and business leaders on topics of shared interest.
In its Insights blog, Ripple listed off several current high-profile efforts with organizations such as the University of Pennsylvania, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and MIT. These efforts each target a very specific area of blockchain research, utilizing the resources associated with the UBRI.
Investing in higher education as students work towards their secondary degrees is something that is not new to high-tech companies – Google and Apple are two notable examples of other Silicon Valley companies that contribute to higher learning.12 13
SBI Virtual Currencies
SBI Virtual Currencies (SBI VC) has started its initial roll-out of their virtual currency platform – but only to a very small subset of their customers. The initial rollout was to approximately twenty thousand accounts, as an initial test of their virtual currency solution. 5 In addition to rolling out the site to a limited number of current customers, SBI also made the decision to start listing Bitcoin Cash alongside XRP starting June 11th: 6
“SBI Virtual Currency will start handling bitcoin cash (BCH) from Monday, June 11th.”
SBI indicated that they are planning on rolling out the entire site to the general public from July onwards. While this secondary time frame didn’t have anything to say about the rest of SBI’s user list from its online trading platform, just rolling the site out to the general public may result in a flood of new applications and users. It will be fascinating to watch how quickly SBI Virtual Currency’s influence grows in the market from July forward.
xRapid Ready for Production
CNBC's Arjun Kharpal at Money 2020 in Amsterdam recently scored an interview with Ripple’s CEO Brad Garlinghouse. Surprisingly, Arjun zeroed in almost exclusively on questions regarding XRP and its adoption. He ended up asking many of the same questions that a run-of-the-mill XRP holder might also ask. Here is the question – and answer – that received the most press:14
Question: "Do you have an outlook or an aspiration or ambition as to how many institutions you hope will be using this token to facilitate these real-world transactions, by say the end of the year or even the end of next year?"
Answer: "I have every confidence that major banks will use XRapid as a liquidity tool
this calendar year. You know, by the end of next year I would certainly hope that we would see ... in the order of magnitude dozens."
In another related question, Brad Garlinghouse emphasized that XRP solves a problem, and saves enormous sums of money for the organizations that use it for sourcing liquidity:
“…what we have found is that XRapid is saving them between 40 and 70 percent compared to their existing tools from managing and spreading liquidity around.”
And this gets at the heart of the matter; it’s something that David Schwartz has also stated matter-of-factly: If XRP saves banks and other businesses money, then they will use it. If it speeds up processing and advances customer responsiveness, then they will use it. If it provides a competitive advantage against other organizations, they will use it. In short, they will use it because it does exactly what it claims to do.
In addition to the interview with CNBC, Brad Garlinghouse sat down with another fellow panelist and provided his perspective on a number of detailed questions. The fellow panelist provided an opportunity for Brad to talk again about Ripple’s big announcement that was provided at Money 20 / 20 Europe: The creation of the University Blockchain Research Initiative. In addition, they each covered a variety of other topics in the video:
When it came to the topic of speculation, Brad Garlinghouse had this to say:
“Ripple is focused on ‘how do we add an institutional use case?’…. Ripple never tries to promote XRP as a digital asset; we try to demonstrate its usefulness, and product flows, and trying to solve a real problem.”
It is this laser-focus on payments and real utility that is supercharging XRP adoption, and it’s why XRP is gaining traction with financial analysts that recognize its potential.
Starting on June 1st, XRP community members voted for their favorite new XRP symbol submission.
The entries were many, but @xrpsymbol narrowed the choices to those available for the vote. After one week, the voting round completed on midnight, Friday, June 8th. As of the time of this writing, the next steps for the final decision process is still 'to be determined." Here are the three top choices according to the raw vote count:15
It’s evident from the response that this effort is much more than just window dressing on a foregone conclusion – this vote is very real, and any of the three choices have a possibility of becoming the next official symbol for XRP. Good luck to the final three choices – I predict that the community will rally around the symbol once the vote is finished.
New Website for Bloggers
In case you may not have noticed; I’ve switched websites for my blog. It’s no accident, and now my new home for blogging is https://xrpcommunity.blog/. In case you’re wondering, it’s one more project that @wietsewind championed and built, although he is now receiving help – and content – from multiple quarters!
It’s a site dedicated to helping committed authors contribute to the XRP knowledge base, and to provide a platform for editorial content about both crypto and XRP. Thus far, many highly-read blogs have migrated to the new platform, including my own and @Bigbuckor’s. In addition, @TiffanyHayden has also expressed interest, and has published a blog on the new site. Others have joined as well, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the editorial content, as well as the well-sourced pieces I’ve read so far.
I have my own favorites, but I don’t want to influence anybody: My advice is to browse the site, and perhaps try a new author that you may not have read before – who knows? You may stumble onto an author whose writing style clicks with you.
Don’t Depend on Luck; Depend on Hard Work
Crypto investors are a skittish lot. Just a little fear or bad publicity, and they run for the hills. But XRP investors are not the same. On three separate occasions, when the rest of the crypto hordes were abandoning their “alt coin of the moment” due to unforeseen market downturns, I noticed that the XRP investors remained steadfast. Yes, there were losses in value, but not as much as most of the others. Those that own XRP understand that long-term value is going to carry the day in crypto; when traditional investors and institutional money arrives in the form of trillions of dollars of additional investment, will the fund managers be comfortable investing in a crypto network whose highest-volume use case is Krypto Kitties? Unlikely.
If history and science are sufficient guides, then we can expect to see material investment amounts set aside for XRP in the near future, and we can expect to see XRP rise in the crypto rankings until it is the undisputed choice among investors. Remember, just because Ripple makes it look easy does not mean it is; other crypto networks that make claims may just be issuing empty words - like those who watch the professionals play the game from the sidelines and think that they can do the same.
Ripple has a detailed business plan, and a large amount of it will impact the adoption of XRP by remittance processors, Internet companies, and banks. As our volume scenarios have shown, even a small share of the international payment market will be enough to affect demand; XRP will get there. The only question is for you as an investor; do you have what it takes to make a move and stick with it through volatility?