On Friday (13 July 2018), cross-border payments solution provider Ripple's former Chief Cryptographer and its new Chief Technology Officer (CTO), David Schwartz, was interviewed by Ripple's Senior Vice President of Product, Asheesh Birla. Schwartz talked about his new role and answered miscellaneous questions (submitted over Twitter) asked by the XRP Community. Here, we look at the highlights from this interview. (Please note that for the sake of clarity, in some cases, questions and answers appear in an abbreviated form.)
Q: What are the top three priorities you have for the upcoming year?
A: I think one very very important thing is getting volume on RippleNet, getting transaction flow to be where we want it to be, more [payment] corridors, more deployment... I think having that transaction flow as candidates to be bridged with XRP is tremendously important to the company. Also, xRapid, actually doing the bridging of payments with XRP... getting those things scaled, getting more partnerships, getting those live transaction volumes that are significant is incredibly important. And I think on the last front is decentralization... finding every possible thing that someone could criticize and just making sure that we've got that completely nailed down.
Q: Why does decentralization matter?
A: I think a lot of people in the cryptocurrency community understand why that is important for these emerging use cases, but I don't think they completely get why it matters for everything else, for where the value is today... I've had people tell me "Well, banks don't care if something is decentralized; they trust each other, don't they?". Well, not only they do not trust each other, but imagine if you are trying to build on that ecosystem, if you are trying to plug in, if you are trying to connect, if you are trying to compete with a company that's spent billions of dollars on its liquidity solution, are you going to want to spend billions of dollars? And the other problem is that things that are based on trust don't really scale. You can't build a thousand relationships based on trust very easily, whereas if you have a system that doesn't require trust, you can interoperate with everybody by just firing up your own instance. That's a tremendous difference in the amount effort, time, and money that it takes to build... And there is no single jurisdiction that is going to allow all those things to interoperate. There is no single governance body existing that can intermediate all of that. You need a system that is decentralized and can govern itself without having someone to manage it day to day.
Q: How is the progress going with xRapid. When do you expect it to be in production?
A: [Answered by Birla not Schwartz] Right now, we are really working hard on getting the experience right for xRapid... We've seen really positive results with the pilot so far. There's no set time for production just yet... We hope to have it by this year. I would say that the piulots were really good learnings both for us and our customers... The thing with Western Union is that they are such a massive company and thst's been around for longer than most payment companies out there... for Western Union to take advantage of xRapid, they would have to all of their volume over to something like xRapid because they already have fixed costs and optimized liquidity flows... Right now... our target customer is upstarts [e.g. people who want to compete with Western Union].
Q: What do you think is the tipping point for XRP to be widely used?
A: Well, I think we've got the underlying technology heavily optimized for a payments use case and closely related use cases that involve movement of value. With our xSpring effort, we're trying to incentivize the development of an ecosystem around XRP. With what Ripple is doing on the banking side, we are trying to position XRP as that intermediary asset that can provide liquidity between other assets. If those efforts are successful, that's going to be a reason to use that asset.
Featured Image Credit: Interface Image Courtesy of Ripple