Ripple and XRP: Highlights of 2018

Siamak Masnavi

This article is a look back at some of the best moments of 2018 for FinTech startup Ripple and the cryptocurrency XRP that is used by some of its products (such as xRapid).

January

“Digital assets promise fast transaction speeds but XRP is far faster than all of them, including bitcoin. Cutting settlement times from hours and days to just three seconds or less will remove billions of dollars in unnecessary intermediary fees."

Alastair Constance, CEO & Founder of Mercury FX
  • Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings announced on January 30th that its upcoming crypto exchange SBI Virtual Currencies would be supporting only one cryptoasset at launch: XRP.  This was not too surprising given that we already knew that SBI Holdings CEO and Executive Chairman Yoshitaka Kitao was hugely enthusiastic about XRP. In fact, this is what Kitao-san told Emi Yoshikawa, Ripple's Senior Director for Joint Venture Partnership, in an interview back in August 2017:

"Not only does it have a clear use case, XRP is faster, cheaper and more scalable than any other digital asset. I strongly believe it will become the global standard in digital currencies. What’s your plan for utilizing Ripple’s technology and XRP in SBI’s businesses? We have already moved aggressively to take advantage of Ripple’s technology, investing in the company in January of 2016, and later launching SBI Ripple Asia (a joint venture) in May of 2016. Very quickly, we launched a consortium of 61 banks, including the top in Japan to use Ripple for both domestic and cross-border payments. And, we are increasingly interested in looking to use XRP for payments."

February

  • Ripple announced on February 7th that Lianlian International, "a leading Chinese money service company licensed in Hong Kong with 150 million registered users in the region," had joined RippleNet, and would be using xCurrent "to power cross-border transactions between China, the U.S., and Europe."

  • Ripple announced on February 14th that the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) — the central bank for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) — "had signed an agreement with Ripple to help banks in the KSA improve their payments infrastructure using xCurrent," and that this "ground-breaking" pilot program was "the first of its kind to be launched by a central bank." Participating banks would "use xCurrent to instantly settle payments sent into and out of the country, with greater transparency and lower costs."

March

  • On March 1st, Ripple announced that Cambridge Global Payments was launching a pilot program "to use XRP in cross-border payment flows through xRapid."
  • On March 6th, Ripple announced that the Japan Bank Consortium (JBC), which is "comprised of 61 banks covering more than 80% of all banking assets in Japan" and is led by SBI Ripple Asia, would release "a groundbreaking smartphone application called “MoneyTap”— powered by Ripple’s blockchain technology — to allow customers of the bank consortium to settle transactions instantly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
  • On March 9th, Cory Johnson, a former anchor and editor-at-large for Bloomberg Television, joined Ripple as Chief Market Strategist.

April

  • On April 12th, banking giant Santander announced the launch of Santander One Pay FX, "the first blockchain-based international money transfer service across four countries" (available to retail customers in Spain, UK, Brazil and Poland), and that this new service, which uses Ripple's xCurrent, "makes it possible for customers to complete international transfers on the same day in many cases or by the next day."
  • On April 26th, Asheesh Birla, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Ripple, published a blog post that announced five new customers—FairFXExchange4FreeRationalFXUniPAY, and MoneyMatch—for xVia, Ripple's standard payments API, which "requires no software installation and enables users to seamlessly send payments globally with transparency into the payment status and with rich information, like invoices, attached."

May

  • On May 8th, Coinone Transfer, a payments business and a subsidiary of South Korean crypto exchange Coinone, joined RippleNet to use xCurrent.
  • On May 10th, Ripple reported aggregated results for several pilots of xRapid:

"For payments in the critical remittance corridor between the U.S. and Mexico, financial institutions using xRapid saw a savings of 40-70 percent compared to what they normally pay foreign exchange brokers. An average xRapid payment took just over two minutes, compared to today’s average of two to three days when sending cross-border payments. The portion of the transfer that relies on the XRP Ledger takes two to three seconds, with the additional processing time attributed to movement across the intermediary digital asset exchanges and local payment rails."

  • On May 14th, Ripple announced Xpring (pronounced "Spring"), a new initiative that "will invest in, incubate, acquire and provide grants to companies and projects run by proven entrepreneurs," with every entrepreneur undertaking to use "the digital asset XRP and the XRP Ledger, the open-sourced, decentralized technology behind XRP, to solve their customers’ problems in a transformative way."

June

  • On June 4th, Ripple introduced the University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI), "a collaboration with top universities around the world to support and accelerate academic research, technical development and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payments."
  • On June 27th, Ripple announced that India's Kotak Mahindra Bank would be using xCurrent "to power instant remittance payments into the country."

July

  • On July 11th, Ripple announced that David Schwartz, who had beens serving as Ripple’s Chief Cryptographer, had been appointed to Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

August

  • On August 16th, Ripple named three exchange partners for xRapid: Bittrex would "act as the preferred digital asset exchange for xRapid transactions that move through US Dollars;" Bitso and Coins.ph would be the preferred exchanges for Mexican Pesos and Philippine Pesos respectively. 

September

  • On September 5th, TransferGo, an international cheap money transfer company with offices in Lithuania and the UK, announced that it had "begun processing blockchain enabled real-time transfers" using (what we assumed was) xCurrent, and that its "TransferGo NOW" service was allowing "customers to make instant money transfers to India from anywhere in Europe."
  • On September 13th, Ripple informed us that Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank (NCB), the country's first bank, had joined RippleNet.
  • On September 19th, Ripple and PNC Bank (a top 10 U.S. bank) announced that PNC Treasury Management had become a member of RippleNet, and that PNC’s commercial clients would soon be able to "receive real-time cross border payments via Ripple."
  • On September 28th, Ripple announced that Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) would be "the first financial institution on RippleNet to pioneer a key feature called 'multi-hop', which allows them to settle frictionless payments on behalf of other financial institutions on the network." This feature "eliminates the need for a direct one-to-one connection (or bilateral relationship) between financial institutions to settle a payment." We fund out thaty by using multi-hop, SCB would "be able to receive and forward on a payment without a bilateral relationship between the originator and beneficiary institutions."

October 

  • On October 1st, the first day of two-day Swell 2018 conference, Ripple announced that arguably the biggest news of the year for anyone who has invested in XRP: xRapid had finally become commercially available and moved into production with MercuryFXCuallix, and Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union.

November

  • On November 14th, Ripple announced that it had a new strategic partner: CIMB Group, (according to Wikipedia) "a Malaysian universal bank headquartered in Kuala Lumpur and operating in high growth economies in ASEAN." We found out that due to this partnership, CIMB had joined RippleNet. 

"Ripple’s blockchain-based solution has been deployed to enhance CIMB’s proprietary remittance product called SpeedSend. This service allows customers to send and receive money with direct account crediting and instant cash collection. The enhancement improves their access to cross-border remittances across the globe — both inbound into ASEAN and outbound to other countries. It is already enabling remittances to corridors such as Australia, USA, UK and Hong Kong."

 

December

  • On December 24th, Changpeng Zhao ("CZ"), Co-Founder and CEO of crypto exchange Binance, gave XRP HODLERs one of the best possible Christmas presents that they could have imagined when he tweeted that his firm would soon be making XRP a base currency:
  • And true to his word, a very short time later, XRP had become a base/quoted currency on Binance:

  

XRP Has Started to Recover 'With a Vengeance', eToro's Senior Analyst Explains

Omar Faridi

XRP, the third largest digital asset in terms of market capitalization, has been “pumping hard” recently - as eToro’s senior market analyst, Mati Greenspan pointed out via Twitter.

In his detailed Twitter thread, Greenspan wrote: “While the rest of the crypto market is stalling, $XRP is pumping hard this morning.” He added that XRP “went quiet” from December 11th, 2018 to late January 2019. However, the digital asset’s price has started to recover “with a vengeance” since January 26th, Greenspan noted.

According to the experienced analyst’s observations: “$XRP volumes have been dominated by Bitcoin and Tether $USDT over the last six months. However, we can see that dynamic tapering off in the last few days.”

Commenting on XRP’s price, Twitter user “Macro CryptoRevolution” (@MarcoCryptoRevo) mentioned that “rumors drive the price” in the digital asset market. He predicted that the performance of XRP and bitcoin (BTC), the flagship cryptocurrency, would be correlated for the “next few years.” He remarked:  

XRP for the banks and conservatives. Bitcoin for the free thinking people! #BTC Future.

At press time, XRP is trading at $0.3403 as its price has surged by nearly 9% in the past 24 hours - according to CryptoCompare data. The market capitalization of XRP tokens currently stands at just over $13.7 billion.

Giant Omani Financial Institution Joins RippleNet

Ripple Labs, the San Francisco-based fintech firm that has supported the development of XRP,  recently announced that Oman’s second-largest financial institution, BankDhofar has joined RippleNet, which is Ripple’s global payment network.

Navin Gupta, Ripple’s managing director for the Asia and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, shared a press release (via Twitter) which revealed that the American fintech’s “bi-directional messaging and instant settlement features” would be used by BankDhofar to process international payments in a quick, secure, and cost-effective manner.

XRP Is The "Number One Cryptoasset"

Expressing his confidence in Ripple’s suite of financial products, including XRP, Yoshitaka Kitao, the CEO of SBI Holdings, a Tokyo-based financial services firm that generates an average of $200 billion in annual revenue, recently remarked (translated from Japanese): 

XRP is the number one crypto asset.

Yoshitaka also claimed that bitcoin has “no fundamental value” which is why he thinks the flagship cryptocurrency’s price will eventually go down to “zero.”

Earlier this month, the SBI Group had published its latest financial report (covering a 9-month period ending on December 31st, 2018) in which it noted that XRP was the first cryptocurrency that was integrated into R3’s Corda Settler, which is “an application purpose-built to allow for payment obligations raised on the Corda blockchain platform to be made through any of the world’s payment systems, both traditional and blockchain-based.”