San Francisco-based Ripple has announced the University Blockchain Research Initiative – a partnership with 17 top universities from around the globe focused on supporting and accelerating “academic research, technical development and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrency, and digital payments.”

To fund the new research initiative, Ripple has committed to investing $50 million to support various research projects. In the announcement, Team Ripple talks about the motivation behind their investment in the University Blockchain Research Initiative:

‘Interest in blockchain is soaring, with a groundswell of activity taking place on the campuses of the world’s top universities. From new business use cases — such as making cross-border payments faster, lower cost and more transparent — to uses of blockchain for good, students and faculty globally are emerging as major contributors to the creation of a more robust and valuable blockchain and payments ecosystem.’

The statement continues:

“As one of the most mature companies in the space, Ripple is uniquely suited to partner with the academic community and help lead development of this ecosystem.”

Despite Ripple funding the efforts, universities will be able to choose their own research topics. The 17 universities included in the initiative are as follows:

  • Australian National University College of the Law
  • CITP at Princeton
  • CSAIL at MIT
  • Delft University of Technology (Netherlands)
  • Fundação Getulio Vargas (Brazil)
  • Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
  • IIT Bombay
  • International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H)
  • Korea University
  • McCombs School of Business, UT-Austin
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • The University of Pennsylvania
  • UCL (University College London)
  • University of Luxembourg
  • University of Nicosia (Cyprus)
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Waterloo

Ripple hopes by combining a “broad cross-section of geographies and markets, as well as a rich blend of academic disciplines” the initiative will achieve greater breakthroughs in their research.

Ripple is no stranger to assisting educational efforts. In March on “Best School Day,” the firm donated $29 million in XRP to purchase school supplies and other materials.

bitcoin

The top securities regulator in the United States says that bitcoin is not a security under federal law.

Speaking on Thursday in a hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee, Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton told lawmakers that cryptocurrencies which function exclusively as mediums of exchange are not securities, unlike initial coin offering (ICO) tokens, which are.

He said:

“It’s a complicated area. Because, as you said, there are different types of cryptoassets. Let me try and divide them into two areas. A pure medium of exchange, the one that’s most often cited, is Bitcoin. As a replacement for currency, that has been determined by most people to not be a security.”

“Then there are tokens, which are used to finance projects. I’ve been on the record saying there are very few, there’s none that I’ve seen, tokens that aren’t securities,” Clayton added. “To the extent something is a security, we should regulate it as a security, and our securities regulations are disclosure-based, and people should follow those and provide the information that we require.”

Clayton’s comments are consistent with statements that he has made in the past regarding the difference between “pure” cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and tokens, which the SEC says fall under US securities regulations.

Recently, a group of Silicon Valley heavyweights met with the SEC to attempt to convince them to provide safe harbor to most ICO tokens — as well as ethereum — but the agency is said to have not been overly receptive to the proposal.

That ethereum was on the agenda turned many heads, as it is the second-largest cryptocurrency and has been assumed by many ordinary users to be exempt from securities regulations.

However, as many newer users may not realize, the ethereum’s initial development was funded through a presale in 2014, though new units of ether have been distributed through mining since the network officially launched and will eventually be issued through a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm.

For this reason, former markets regulator Gary Gensler argued earlier this week that ethereum is likely a “noncompliant security.”

However, Gensler — who chaired the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (SEC) during the Obama administration and now lectures on blockchain technology at MIT — said that ethereum was perhaps more likely than XRP to receive safe harbor from regulators, since ETH distribution has become decentralized over the previous three years while XRP issuance is controlled solely by a single entity: San Francisco-based company Ripple.

Featured Image from Pixabay

fake news

“Fake news” — that’s how Binance responded to reports that the cryptocurrency exchange giant is preparing to add USD trading pairs to its online trading platform.

The Hong Kong-based exchange, which is currently in the process of moving its operations to Malta, said Thursday that while it is holding discussions with banks in the hopes of adding fiat-to-cryptocurrency trading pairs in the future, it has “no plans” to support USD in the short-term. Nor, when it does offer fiat pairs, will verge (XVG) or ripple (XRP) receive preferential treatment.

That statement, straight from the Twitter account of Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, contradicted baseless reports from several industry media outlets that claimed the exchange had announced that it was adding XRP/USD and XVG/USD trading pairs to its platform.

Part of the confusion may also stem from the fact that Binance has gradually been rolling out USDT trading pairs for altcoins that are listed on its platform. Better known as ‘tether‘ and created by a company of the same name, USDT is a cryptocurrency token that is supposedly backed by physical dollars at a 1:1 ratio. However, USDT holders cannot withdraw dollars directly to their bank accounts, nor can they deposit actual USD at Binance.

Binance currently ranks as the world’s highest-volume cryptocurrency exchange, with daily volume in excess of $2.1 billion. Consequently, getting listed on Binance increases a coin’s liquidity and generally leads to positive price movements — at least in the short-term.

Becoming one of the few coins to trade directly against fiat currency pairs has an even more profound effect on a cryptocurrency’s price, as it allows the coin to decouple from bitcoin and ethereum and trade in an isolated market.

It’s impossible to know the justification behind spreading these false rumors, though it would not be surprising if at least some of the perpetrators did so to artificially inflate the verge and ripple prices so that they could turn a quick profit.

Featured Image from Pixabay

Ripple

Ripple has announced that it is donating $29 million to popular teaching fundraising site DonorsChoose.org to help bring teachers classroom dreams come true.

DonorsChoose is a nonprofit organization that uses crowdfunding to help public school students and their teachers so that students in every community have the experiences they need for a great education.

Now, in a bid to help the educational establishment reach its goals across America, San Francisco-based Ripple has announced that it is giving students and teachers across the country their #bestschoolday. This means that the company has pledged to pay over 35,000 classroom requests on the DonorsChoose website.

Making the announcement in a YouTube video, Monica Long, senior vice president of marketing at Ripple, along with Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose, explained that this was a chance for Ripple to thank the teachers who helped them get to where they are in their careers today.

After sending an email to Chris Larsen, founder of Ripple, Best thought his request for donations would be shunned. However, according to Long, the idea behind DonorsChoose resonated with the team. As Ripple is about making payments faster, inclusive, and more accessible to people around the world, so too is DonorsChoose making education more accessible and inclusive for students.

Responding to the announcement, Best said:

“The teachers behind these projects work with more than a million students who are now going to get materials and experiences that they need to learn. I do not believe there has ever been a day when this many classroom dreams came true.”

The funding by the company, the single biggest cryptocurrency donation to a charity, was under tight wraps in the lead up to the announcement. While there have been large donations that funded every request in a state or city, this is the first time that all requests on the website have been funded by one organization.

Converting the XRP tokens into dollars, DonorsChoose will now be able to fulfil requests such as buying lab coats for science students, insect kits, new school furniture such as chairs and desks, sports equipment, musical equipment, and coding cards to get students on the path to learning about code work, to name a few.

Having reached over 27.5 million students, with nearly 1.5 million projects funded since DonorsChoose started in 2000, the organization has gone from a one-man band to a charity with offices in New York and San Francisco working at helping teachers and donors connect.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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