Ripple’s ascent to the top of the crypto charts looks more like an ocean-wide tsunami than a mere ring at the top of the pond. Since this time last year, a $100 investment in XRP, the San Francisco software start-up’s digital currency, would have made you $35,000 better-off.
Colleagues of mine here at TCJ such as Emily Bianchi and Maddison Sullivan have come down on the side of Ethereum lately, since they think the former incumbent Number 2 digital asset ETH holds more substance than does Ripple’s XRP tech.
Well, I’ll put it bluntly: it’s high time now here for someone to point out that this makes no sense at all. My reasoning is simplistic but it has the ring of truth to it: there is no market bigger than the interbank payment network market. For Blockchain, which is a payment utility, that fact holds more truth to it than it does for any other innovation. To say that Ripple won’t end up the Number 1 crypto is to admonish that there is no core utility in Blockchain at all that is remotely scaleable at an industrial enterprise rate.
In one sense, naysayers of XRP are absolutely right: XRP won’t be in the Number 2 spot for very long at all. Then again, neither will Bitcoin be in pole position either. XRP is far and away going to become the biggest digital asset on the planet. You can take part and moan about it or you can join in and accept the reality that it is.
SWIFT-ly Does It
The reasons for XRP supremacy are easiest to think of in terms of a 3-part process which consists of the following: 1) Ripple’s ability to more neatly streamline what is in effect the Blockchain’s real use-case functionality in a banking context 2) Ripple’s very specific goal of taking aim at an actual set of problems for interbank communications solving them and 3) the dark arts of big funds loading up and ramping up on the first two.
Let’s start with the first – what Ripple noticed that no other Blockchain developer has yet picked up on. The following is in fact so simple as to be even quite embarrassing for many developers to have missed, which is why I guess you don’t often hear them say it aloud. When a Blockchain manufactures a unit of digital currency, the way in which it does so is not so much to do with the minting of currency but rather, with the identification of a long line of code that correctly matches up and hence proves itself authentic by means of its identification.
This is the very topic of Satoshi’s 2009 White Paper, in fact. When considering this process in light of modern banking, one makes an interesting discovery – specifically, that we don’t actually need currency to transfer from one place to another at all when effecting international wire payments, as long as the SWIFT code which gets our money from A to B has some sort of unique identifier on it that somehow allows the money we are depositing in someone else’s account to be recognised as the same source of funding that comes from our account.
It has been mentioned a number of times before that Bitcoin is essentially a gigantic SWIFT code, so this is nothing new. What is new that Ripple is doing is actually employing this very practical use-case thinking in the task of effecting cheaper and more efficient commercial banking transfers.
For banks, they cannot simply afford to overhaul their entire infrastructure overnight. They will use something more efficient, sure, especially if it’s cheaper, but only if it works alongside the clunky old stuff from the past. That’s because a good deal of revenue they already produce employs this technology today. So, instead of fighting multi-billion dollar revenue streams like every other developer in Crypto, what did Ripple do? They listened to their customers and produced a first rate product called xCurrent that was designed with the customer’s needs in mind, and that is how the SWIFT code synch-up I just discussed matches up.
Here is an excellent explanation from Guy Ettlin over at The Market Mogul:
“xCurrent … is Ripple’s enterprise software solution that lets institutions tap into the powerful and efficient system for cross-border payment processing that the company Ripple has developed. It supposedly saves users significant portions of their funds on top of speeding up the process and increasing security. In short, it connects banks more efficientlybut doesn’t necessarily get rid of the set-up used in SWIFT settlements whereby banks need to fund Nostro and Vostro accounts and decide on the interval of settling these accounts and the rates they will use. In other words, banks need to maintain parts of a rather inefficient system, but they can send any currency they want using xCurrent and do not need to buy large amounts XRP tokens to conduct settlements. In fact, they only need enough XRP to pay the network fees associated with each transaction.”
Someone tell me the crime in listening to someone’s problem and solving it? Because that is all I see Ripple doing. The Bitcoin core developers, on the other hand, seem to be sitting on their fat asses doing sweet f%&$ all and waiting for BTC to inch up another $10,000 while transaction upon transaction piles up on top of each other like a series of longer and longer vehicles on a snowy Chicago day in the deep fog.
Finally, how about the accusation that XRP is market manipulated. Well, yes – that is true. It’s clearly the case that someone is pushing up the price of XRP now. To argue against that is foolish. But this is not a reason to stay away from XRP – on the contrary, it’s possibly the best reason there is to get involved as it can only at this stage go higher!
Think about it: if from below 5th place you were going to spend billions of dollars pushing the price of a digital asset skywards, would you settle for second place in the line-up? Or would you make sure that you had a war chest big enough to make the boast of being “the world’s Number 1 digital currency”?
I sure know what I would be doing if I was in their place right now! Unlike for Bitcoin or Ethereum, becoming the world’s Number 1 digital currency actually impacts financial performance of Ripple’s underlying operations – it has a tangible value associated with it in other words. This is because many more banks will want to get involved – or will allow themselves to justify becoming involved – at the point of Number One Supremacy of XRP. That is just human nature. If you’ve ever sold anything in your life you’ll know how much easier it is to sell a top performing brand versus a no-name or an eighth-place finalist in the runner’s-up competition.
Yes, XRP is solving a simple problem, but that is because Satoshi was solving a simple problem. Satoshi wasn’t trying to reinvent democracy via Master Node-enabled digital units of value; he was just trying to create an interconnected global payment system with non-forgeable currency equivalency. And Ripple just happened to be the first of anyone there who saw that and went, I wonder how, rather than using this to disrupt banks, we can go and help ’em to disrupt themselves?
So don’t blame Ripple for XRP’s inevitable market dominance, blame Satoshi Nakomoto.