Ripple Swell conference logo

This week played host to Ripple’s Swell conference in San Francisco. The event arrived just as ripple’s price shot up more than 100% and briefly overtook ethereum as the number two cryptocurrency. But what did we learn from the conference? Let’s take a look.

1. xRapid Is (Finally) Live

On the first day of the event, CEO Brad Garlinghouse revealed that three companies are now officially using xRapid to process payments.

The three companies involved are Catalyst Corporate Credit Union (a financial firm), MercuryFX, and Cuallix (money transfer services).

xRapid is Ripple’s flagship product for moving money instantly across borders. The crucial thing is that the software actively uses Ripple’s XRP token to make the transaction (learn more about xRapid here).

diagram of xRapid and RippleNet

Although xRapid has been “piloted” by various financial institutions, this is the first real deployment of the technology. Garlinghouse has previously said that “dozens” of banks will use xRapid (and the XRP token) by the end of 2019.

According to MercuryFX, the system helped slash transaction times between Mexico and the UK from days to just minutes.

2. Bill Clinton Can Talk for a Long Time Without Mentioning Blockchain

Bill Clinton was the big-name speaker at Ripple Swell, but he seemed to spend most of his time avoiding cryptocurrency.

According to CoinDesk, he touched on migration, weapons, and the conflict in Israel, but made only a handful of references to blockchain. When he did talk about the technology, he was vague:

“This whole blockchain deal has the potential it does only because it is applicable across national borders [and] income groups. The permutations and possibilities are staggeringly great.”

Clinton did, however, warn about the dangers of heavy-handed regulation which threatened to stifle creativity in the industry.

Ripple Swell Bill Clinton

3. Ripple Is “Very Clearly Decentralized,” According to Its CEO

Ever since it was created, Ripple has been plagued with accusations of centralization. Unlike bitcoin and ethereum, where tokens are mined by its users, XRP was simply created all at once and gifted to Ripple. Ripple holds most of the XRP in existence and slowly distributes it via an escrow system.

Fighting back against the critics, Ripple’s CEO Brad Garlinghouse said:

“It is very clearly decentralized. I, as CEO of the company, can’t control the XRP ledger. I can’t change a transaction… Anybody can participate in the XRP ecosystem, and if Ripple does something that is not in the best interest of the ecosystem, the rest of the ecosystem can ignore us.”

It echoes previous comments by Ripple’s CTO who said XRP is more decentralized than bitcoin and ethereum. He argued that bitcoin and ethereum are dominated by just three-four mining pools, making it more centralized than XRP.

4. The Price of Xrp Dropped 13% During the Event

Coming off the back of 100% weekly rally, the price of XRP stalled despite the xRapid announcement.

It’s a clear case of “buy the rumor, sell the news” – an old stock market saying. The 100% surge took place as Ripple teased the adoption of xRapid in the preceding weeks. When it was finally announced at the conference, the price dipped.

Is this an indication of disappointment among XRP traders? Perhaps. Maybe they expected a higher profile partnership. However, it’s more likely a natural correction after a 100% rise.

5. Ripple Still Has a Long Way to Go

Although three companies are now using xRapid, Ripple has a mountain to climb. One of the panels at the conference was aptly named the “800-pound gorilla,” referring to the difficulty of convincing banks to adopt cryptocurrency.

Risk-management teams at banks are still reluctant to open their arms to XRP and other crypto assets. They’ll first need to see stronger regulations. The good news is that Ripple says that talks with regulators have been encouraging.

So, what did we learn from the Ripple Swell conference? Ripple is making baby-steps with xRapid, but there’s a way to go before the bigger banks come on board.

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In February 2018, San Francisco-based blockchain startup Ripple, which focuses on providing a fast and secure global payment system, has added five new customers in the banking and remittance (money transfer) sectors. The banks are Itaú Unibanco – the largest private bank in Brazil – and IndusInd of India. The remittance providers are Zip Remit of Canada, InstaReM of Singapore and Beetech of Brazil.

Ripple Strengthens Reach to Emerging Markets

These financial institutions are joining more than 100 companies already connected to RippleNet, Ripple’s decentralized global network of banks and payment providers. These businesses will increase RippleNet’s service to emerging global markets, where almost 90 percent of people under 30 reside.

“Now, RippleNet members will be able to process a large number of payouts in Southeast Asian countries through InstaReM’s secure rails,” Prajit Nanu, co-founder and CEO of InstaReM, said.

A Feb. 21 press release states that Ripple’s use of blockchain technology can offer customers lower costs and transfer times, which can be especially helpful in developing countries “where financial flexibility is limited.”

Patrick Griffin, head of business development at Ripple, believes blockchain can deliver a payment system that works in favor of, not against, individuals in emerging markets, “Whether it’s a teacher in the U.S. sending money home to his family in Brazil or a small-business owner in India trying to move money to open up a second store in another country.”

Ripple Releases Dual Academic Papers for Review

Also on Feb. 21, Ripple announced that its research and development team published two new academic papers for peer review, one on the XRP Ledger Consensus Protocol, and one introducing Cobalt, a new asynchronous consensus algorithm. These are the first peer-reviewed academic papers released by Ripple.

Ripple’s XRP is the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency in February 2018, by its market cap of about $38 billion. XRP’s price is about $0.97 as of the 21.

moneygram

MoneyGram, the world’s second-largest money transfer service, has announced that it will adopt Ripple’s XRP token in an open-ended pilot program designed to increase the efficiency of international payments.

The Dallas-based firm, second in size only to Western Union, announced on Thursday that it will pilot the use of XRP in its internal payment flows.

The partnership will see MoneyGram adopt xRapid, Ripple’s on-demand liquidity product, which uses XRP to settle cross-border payments in real time at a much lower cost than using legacy payment systems.

“The payments problem doesn’t just affect banks, it also affects companies like MoneyGram, which help people get money to the ones they care about,” said Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple. “By using a digital asset like XRP that settles in three seconds or less, our clients can move money as quickly as information.”

“Ripple is at the forefront of blockchain technology and we look forward to piloting xRapid,” said Alex Holmes, chief executive officer of MoneyGram, in a press release. “We’re hopeful it will increase efficiency and improve services to MoneyGram’s customers.”

Although a number of banks and financial institutions — including household names like American Express — have conducted blockchain trials using RippleNet, the company’s enterprise blockchain, they have shied away from integrating XRP.

Consequently, many critics had stated that the ripple price’s recent rally — which saw the value of XRP soar nearly 30,000 percent in 2017 — was unwarranted relative to actual XRP adoption.

Though perhaps not complete vindication of XRP, MoneyGram’s announcement should make at least a minor dent in that narrative, a dent that could deepen if Ripple’s recent claim that at least three major money transfer firms will adopt XRP in 2018 is borne out.

“And to be clear,” Garlinghouse added today in a tweet, the “MoneyGram announcement is one step in a marathon ahead to truly make XRP the global liquidity solution for payment providers and banks.”

Though Ripple has not confirmed it publicly, this announcement could be the first fruit from the $300 million RippleNet Accelerator Program, which the company launched last quarter to spur XRP adoption among financial institutions. Through the program, institutions can receive rebates and incentives to integrate XRP into their payment systems, making pilot program’s such as MoneyGram’s much more attractive.

The ripple price traded up on the news, briefly rising as high as $2.25 before pulling back to a present level of $2.08

Featured Image from Flickr/Mike Mozart