/ Ecosystem

XRP Update: New Episodes for All Your Favorite TV Shows

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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Fighting over the remote control with relatives used to happen a lot more before streaming services increased in popularity.  Perhaps you’re too young to remember, but for many of us that are old enough to remember the  “pre-streaming” days, it was a battle for the remote control.  The guys usually opted for action dramas, and the women big_screen_tvwanted to watch the rom-coms.  Of course, this is a generalization, and probably just as dangerous a generalization as any other, but you get my meaning; there was usually one big television in the household – in the living room – and it was a scramble to get your preferred content displayed rather than what you didn’t want to watch.

I’ve got to say – the last three days, on top of the unending stream of good news for Ripple has me thinking of the news items in terms of the number of channels on a cable station.

My message is this; if you don’t like one news story, wait ten minutes; another one will be ready for you on Reddit, XRPChat, or Twitter.  Ripple 2.0 is here, and they are not slowing down to smell the flowers.  The takeover of the crypto markets is happening before our eyes.

The Slow Decline of Legacy Bitcoin

If you hold Bitcoin, don’t be angry at me for the title of this section – I’m just reporting what I’m seeing, and what I’m seeing doesn’t look good for legacy Bitcoin.  It’s almost as if the collective crypto market has woken up in 2018 and realized that “it’s time.”

Yes, memes have been made aplenty about how resistant Bitcoin is to all sorts of negative news, regulations, and other obstructions; it kept going, recovering from innumerable flash crashes, price declines, setbacks, and lately governance dramas that ended up creating competing networks for Bitcoin Cash and other off-brand Bitcoin networks.

It has survived all of those things, and in 2017 it looked like Bitcoin would easily break the $20,000 barrier on its way to a higher price point.  So what happened in 2018?

Bitcoin Futures

Is there resistance in the traditional finance markets that Bitcoin consistently has trouble overcoming?  Yes: Bitcoin futures on Wall Street.  It seems that now that institutional money has gotten into the mix, many traditional investors are betting against the original crypto network.

While I don’t understand fully all of the machinations behind this new derivatives market, it’s apparent what the effect on the price of Bitcoin has been as well as the cooling effect it's had on the entire market.

Regulation

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the US Securities and Exchange Commission has now stepped up enforcement;  until recently, the SEC has focused on those digital assets and projects that mimic securities trading, such as ICOs.  Even those announcements and comments were met with skepticism and negativity within crypto, and the market took a step backward when the stories broke. sec_symbol

Continuing with that trend, on Wednesday March 7th, the SEC issued a statement indicating that crypto trading platforms should register with the agency as exchanges.

While the SEC is the regulatory body for the United States, the statement implies that if an exchange wants to do business with US customers, that it must register.  This has some surprising impacts for exchanges worldwide.  In addition, just because some major current exchanges are based in the United States doesn’t make them immune from the SEC’s guidelines.  Unfortunately, GDAX and Gemini might fall into the category of noncompliance, according to one article by Bloomberg. 1

Here is part of the statement by the SEC:

“If a platform offers trading of digital assets that are securities and operates as an ‘exchange,’ as defined by the federal securities laws, then the platform must register with the SEC as a national securities exchange or be exempt from registration,”
The possible issue with this statement is that it depends on which coins that the exchange lists.  Which digital assets are considered securities by the SEC?  I have never seen any comprehensive list, and most likely exchanges that think they can get around registration by restricting their coin listing are playing a dangerous game.  I predict that all exchanges will fall under this umbrella in the eyes of the SEC.

Regardless of the outcome for exchanges, the overall crypto market doesn’t like uncertainty and has reacted as expected, dropping by double-digit numbers.

Liquidation of BTC by Mt Gox Trustee

It looks like as much as $400 million in BTC and BCC has been sold by the Mt Gox Bankruptcy Trustee, Nobuaki Kobayashi.  He provided a quote about why he timed the sale as Bitcoin was nearing the $20k range in prices: 17 18
"As a result of the consultation with the court, I considered it necessary and reasonable to sell a certain amount of BTC and BCC at this point and secure a certain amount of money for distribution resources, and thus, I sold the amount of BTC and BCC above. I made efforts to sell BTC and BCC at as high a price as possible in light of the market price of BTC and BCC at the timing of sale."
The worst part about the sale of the bankruptcy proceeds?

It's not done yet. 

Kobayashi is still in possession of approximately 166,344 Bitcoins, and he stated that he will consult with the court to determine details of a subsequent sale of BTC and BCC.

Possible Binance Hack

Yet another factor negatively impacting the price of Bitcoin in the last two days is news of a possible hack on the Binance exchange. 2

The official statement from Binance strangely indicated that some of the victims were users of its API keys, indicating that they were possibly using trading bots or some other platform that directly interacted with Binance: 3

“We are investigating reports of some users having issues with their funds. Our team is aware and investigating the issue as we speak.

As of this moment, the only confirmed victims have registered API keys (to use with trading bots or otherwise). There is no evidence of the Binance platform being compromised.

Please remain patient and we will provide an update as quickly as possible.

Edit: Withdrawals are temporarily disabled at this time.

Edit II: Reversal of suspicious trades is in progress. Hoping to have the exchange fully functional again soon.”


This news piled on top of the SEC announcement and the bankruptcy sale combined to create a triple-whammy effect on Bitcoin prices, dragging the entire market down with it.

XRP Needs to Decouple from Bitcoin

As much as I try to stay immune from the price behavior of my favorite crypto, I have to agree with those that observe that XRP’s fortunes have not completely detached from the fate of the oldest cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin’s price behavior is still connected to the behavior and pricing of the other cryptocurrencies in the market, despite what we’d like to believe.  Is XRP as closely tied to Bitcoin?  No.  The recent divergences of XRP from the overall market are now legend – all you have to do is look at the historical XRP price charts from mid-2017 until now and you will see many occasions where XRP train passengers have waved to the onlookers still on the platform as it rode away to new highs.

Despite these exceptions, the rule still seems to be that the overall market is negatively impacted when Bitcoin is negatively impacted.

XRP Will Be First to Diverge from Bitcoin

I’d be lying if I said I felt no sense of schadenfreude in knowing that XRP will be the first digital asset to disconnect its price performance from that of Bitcoin; it’s been a long road for Ripple and XRP, and the Ripple team has methodically kept their performance at the highest levels through thick and thin in the last five years, keeping focused on providing results for their banking customers.

I don’t know where the crypto market is heading in the next few days; but in my opinion if you own XRP you have minimized your risk as much as possible in the crypto market.  XRP’s use case is massive – it provides a bridge currency for cross-border payments, and recently it’s begun to delve into other markets as well.

Not too long ago, Brad Garlinghouse compared Ripple and cross-border payments to Brad_Garlinghouse_photo1Amazon and books from early in its evolution.  I think the comparison was spot-on: 4

"Amazon started as a bookseller. They built a model around selling books. And then they said we’re going to do electronics. I think the same thing applies here. If we’re going to have a chance at the 10-year vision, we’ve gotta make sure the 10-month vision takes hold first."
Keep in mind that Brad Garlinghouse made this statement in April of 2015; This quote telegraphed his high-level plan to diversify at some point after Ripple was assured of capturing the payments market.

Details for Developers

For those that want to run a server node on the XRP Ledger, Ripple has updated their documentation to reflect recommended configuration settings like log level, historical data, and other information.  The title for this category of documentation has been given “Capacity Planning.”   On Tuesday, March 6th, Warren Paul Anderson sent out the following tweet about this topic:

war_paul_tweet_03062018

The updated documentation is located at the Ripple Developer Center website under "rippled-setup": 5

https://ripple.com/build/rippled-setup/

xCurrent

Some ground-breaking news was released by Ripple about a new payment application that was built by the Japanese Banking Consortium (JBC).  It revealed that a new application called MoneyTap will be released to allow customers to settle transactions in real-time 24 hours a day. 6

The first JBC members go live with the application in autumn of 2018; these members include SBI Net Sumishin Bank, Suruga Bank and Resona Bank.

For me, the most startling aspect of this announcement was the fact that the application will be handling domestic payments, not cross-border payments!  While SBI has always been consistent in its message that Ripple technology can handle domestic payments just as naturally as cross-border payments, this is the first time we’ve actually seen an application targeting domestic payments.  Even the application built by Santander did not specifically target domestic payments (although there’s no limitation to using it for domestic payments as well).

Ripple’s article noted;

“Flexibility with domestic payments is limited in Japan: transactions must occur on weekdays and between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm or risk delays.”
money_tap

Specific Features of MoneyTap

MoneyTap is a smartphone application, so most likely it will be available on Iphone and Android (assumed).  According to a CNET article: 7
“Money Tap can remit inter-user remittance 24 hours a day, 365 days in real time and can send money by reading the phone number and QR code in addition to the bank account number. The launch is scheduled for the summer or later, and ….  SBI Net Bank, Suruga Bank, Resona Bank will …. (go first). The remittance fee is said to be lower than the current price, but each row determines the actual usage fee.

For the remittance method, (the user) specifie(s) the remittance destination from the application (account number, telephone number, QR code reading) and input(s) the amount of money to be sent. Remittance is completed through biometric authentication such as fingerprint authentication.  In addition, at the beginning of use, (the banks involved) take steps to verify the identity equivalent to ordinary banking service, taking into consideration unauthorized use.”

MoneyTap Release – Business Organization

Within Ripple, it’s evident that Emi Yoshikawa - director of joint venture partnerships at Ripple -  is organizing the release of the application; she noted:
“The release of the MoneyTap mobile app shows Ripple’s continued commitment to provide its partners across Asia and the world with blockchain-powered solutions that dramatically improve the customer payments journey,”

XRP Investor News

In my last blog, I fell into the trap of trying to cover all of the news items that might potentially affect XRP price.  While I made a good faith effort in trying to cover it all, I realized too late that at this point Ripple and XRP have grown up.

No longer is it possible to cover all news items for a three-day period!

While on the one hand it’s good to see that Ripple 2.0 has grown into a large organization, on the other hand it’s tough to try and access all pertinent information that may have had an effect on Ripple’s progress, XRP adoption, or any combination of those two.  But it doesn’t stop me from trying!  In the last three days, we’ve seen further progress when it comes to exchanges, mainstream funds getting into the mix for crypto, and some intriguing business connections.

Let’s take a look first at investment funds starting to enter the crypto market on a larger scale:

Grayscale Investments

While Grayscale Investments published plans 8 to add XRP to their multi-crypto investment fund in early February, on Tuesday, March 6th, Grayscale announced that a new fund targeting only XRP had been added to their list of funds.9 This was an exciting development, as it gives investors a choice to put some of their money into a fund that focuses solely on what I consider to be the market leader in digital assets used for settlement.

Grab

If you don’t live in Asia, you probably don’t know what Grab is.grab_taxi

Grab is a simple concept; it’s a taxi-booking mobile application.  It has since evolved somewhat, and now includes GrabCar (private cars), GrabBike (motorcycle taxis), and others.  It also has an in-application messaging tool to communicate between users and drivers.

Grab is big – very big.  It boasts two million drivers, and its application has been downloaded 69 million times.

So why am I talking about Grab?  An XRPChat member noted that: 10

  • There exists an existing partnership between SBI Ripple Asia and Saison Card 11
  • Saison Card is forming a partnership with Grab 12
From CryptoNinjas:
“The new credit card consortium has already developed a new payments app powered by Ripple’s blockchain technology that enables real-time payments using a phone number or QR code.”
This description reminded me of the mobile payment application that the banking consortium is building.

SBI Acquires 40% of Coolbitx

XRP investors have long wanted a wallet issued by Ripple; for various business and legal reasons, Ripple exited the wallet-building space years ago, putting their legendary RippleTrade wallet on the shelf. 13

In the meantime, other entrants to the space published their own wallets, among them some of the most popular XRP access points in crypto; the most popular wallet in a recent poll was found to be a hardware wallet, indicating the public’s preference for air-gapped devices.  In a nod to end-users’ preferences, SBI recently acquired 40% of Coolbitx, a Taiwanese-based maker of hardware wallets. 14

Will this lead to a wallet designed for storing XRP?  Time will tell.

BitIT Marketplace Adds XRP

The latest organization to add XRP is not a traditional exchange, but its impact might extend beyond that of a traditional exchange.

BitIT is a marketplace headquartered in France that has a unique business model for purchasing crypto; it allows the user to purchase crypto directly in retail stores.  They can walk into a physical store and buy virtual currency with cash.  They also support purchases of XRP online through the company’s website. 15

One author indicated: 16

“Bitit surpasses the Coinbase ease-of-purchase functionality. Although Coinbase, an American exchange headquartered in San Francisco, has become famous for their capability of allowing cryptocurrency purchases by credit card, Coinbase users must purchase cryptocurrency from the exchange itself.

Bitit takes this ease of cryptocurrency acquisition further by allowing purchase at checkout of international retail stores, and also allowing gift-card purchase through cash voucher systems, as well as Visa and MasterCard cryptocurrency purchase online.”

Community Development Update:  Kyte On Its Way

The same developer responsible for creating the XRP Tip Bot is planning on releasing a new wallet called Kyte in the near future.  The functions available through Kyte are extensive, and the wallet is available in a desktop or mobile version.  It also has many offline tools as well.

@WietseWind (Twitter handle) is the developer responsible for developing the Kyte wallet.

He indicated that he is still working diligently on the wallet, and anticipates a release date soon, after he puts the final touches on the application.  He previously published a video of an innovation he’s including with the Kyte wallet – a tool for managing the connections to the XRP Ledger.  You can see the video here:  https://youtu.be/pOga5V4IjuU

He recently published the latest code which includes the rippled-ws-client:

https://www.npmjs.com/package/rippled-ws-client

@WietseWind provided the following comment:

"Kyte will be built by layering:
  1. The new rippled-ws-client to connect to an individual rippled-server

  2. The connection pool (going to update the existing beta to use the new rippled-ws-client instead of ripple-lib) to connect to multiple rippled servers and allow load balancing / failover / selection based on fasted / best fee ...

And then Kyte, written in VueJS

However,

1 rippled-ws-client is probably nice for almost everyone wanting to develop ripple-ledger related stuff in nodejs / javascript and

2 (the pool) for almost everyone wanting redundancy and combining fast rippled connections with full history connections, etc."

You Don't Have to Fight for the Remote Control

We’re not stuck in the pre-streaming era any more.  If there are many television shows that you really want to watch, and they’re being broadcast at the same time, there’s no need to fight over the remote control.  Use TIVO.  Use Netflix or Roku.

Just like television shows, the news for Ripple is being broadcast nonstop on all channels with a  wide variety of news stories and information.  Did I cover everything in the last three days?  Not even close.

But you’ll have to visit one of the many sources of valuable information about Ripple and XRP yourself to find out more; while you’re there, introduce yourself and make some contacts among the XRP community and get to know some of these other heroes in the space – I’m amazed at the level of talent lurking quietly on these forums.

Collectively, let’s focus on supporting XRP adoption by the same organizations Ripple is aiming for – banks and financial institutions – to capitalize on the largest use case for XRP; but let’s also remember to have fun along the way.  There’s a lot of channels on any given day – odds are good that you will find something that inspires you.ripple-symbol3

Sources:

    1. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-07/bitcoin-dives-after-sec-says-crypto-platforms-must-be-registered?utm_content=crypto&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social
    2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/cbovaird/2018/03/07/bitcoin-drops-below-10000-as-traders-suspect-binance-hack/#4377584a4c83
    3. https://www.reddit.com/r/BinanceExchange/comments/82pj5p/please_read_regarding_unauthorized_market_sells/
    4. https://ripple.com/insights/welcome-coo-brad-garlinghouse-to-ripple-labs/
    5. https://ripple.com/build/rippled-setup/#capacity-planning
    6. https://ripple.com/insights/ripple-powered-mobile-app-provide-demand-domestic-payments-japan/
    7. https://japan.cnet.com/article/35115750/
    8. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/exclusive-grayscale-launches-new-digital-large-cap-fund-tied-bitcoin-ether-ripple-litecoin-160507615.html?soc_src=hl-viewer&soc_trk=tw&_fsig=TvtX85dEkL0DcBu6jTPfCA--
    9. https://www.coindesk.com/xrp-bch-ltc-eth-grayscale-adds-4-new-crypto-trusts/amp/?__twitter_impression=true
    10. https://www.xrpchat.com/topic/20689-grabpay-saison-card-ripple-link-up/
    11. https://www.cryptoninjas.net/2017/12/27/sbi-ripple-asia-announces-xrp-integration-within-credit-card-consortium/
    12. http://corporate.saisoncard.co.jp/wr_html/news_data/avmqks000000ajkz-att/20180305Release.pdf
    13. https://www.financemagnates.com/cryptocurrency/exchange/ripple-trade-closing-replaced-with-wallet-and-trading-portal-gatehub/
    14. https://cointelegraph.com/news/japans-finance-giant-sbi-buys-40-of-taiwanese-crypto-hardware-wallet-company
    15. https://venturebeat.com/2016/03/24/paris-based-bitit-launches-to-let-you-buy-bitcoins-from-100000-physical-stores-around-the-world/
    16. https://oracletimes.com/ripple-xrp-coinbase-rival-adds-xrp-by-credit-card-150000-stores-worldwide/
    17. https://www.financemagnates.com/cryptocurrency/news/mt-gox-trustee-liquidates-massive-amount-btc-bch/
    18. https://www.ccn.com/mt-gox-trustee-sells-400-million-bitcoin-bitcoin-cash/
 

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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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