The valuation of Ripple reached $10 billion last year, whereas its current market cap equals $26.8 billion
One of the best American fintech startups and the creator of the third most popular cryptocurrency – Ripple – has been a dark horse for a while. Many investors and industry experts describe the company with flattering epithets while crypto enthusiasts still doubt the future prospects of its proprietary altcoin. So, what do we know about Ripple?
Today, Ripple’s global payments network serves over 300 financial institution customers from 40+ countries across six continents. Among others, Ripple is working with regulators, governments, and central banks. The company has 9 global offices worldwide with over 350 employees.
Ripple’s valuation reached $10 billion last year, whereas its current market cap equals $26.8 billion. Such impressive results took less than a decade of operations and made the company’s founders both rich and proud.
History & Milestones of Ripple
Ripple’s founders, Chris Larsen and Jed McCaleb co-operated with the Canadian software developer Ryan Fugger to give their business idea a solid foundation. Whereas Fugger was developing a decentralised monetary exchange system, McCaleb and Larsen suggested using it for virtual currencies. When Fugger stepped out of business, two co-founders began the development of the ripple protocol (RTXP) and the Ripple payment and exchange network. They originally named their startup Opencoin.
This digital currency idea differed from the already existing Bitcoin concept since it didn’t require mining – transactions were verified by consensus among members of the network. Released in 2012, the Ripple payment network was built upon a distributed open-source protocol. It now supports tokens representing fiat currency, cryptocurrency, commodities, or other units of value such as frequent flier miles or mobile minutes. The ultimate corporate vision is to promote the so-called Internet of Value that will enable the exchange of any asset that is of value to someone, including stocks, votes, securities, intellectual property, music, scientific discoveries, and more in a fraction of a second.
To accelerate the commercial use of blockchain in Japan and Korea, SBI Ripple Asia was established in 2016. It is providing a next-generation payment platform powered by DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) to financial institutions and remittance transfer providers in Asia as a joint venture of SBI Holdings and Ripple. RC Cloud platform unifies domestic and foreign exchange using Ripple’s solution.
The Xpring initiative by Ripple started operating in 2018. It was created to invest in, incubate, acquire, and provide grants to companies and projects using the digital asset XRP and the XRP Ledger to solve their customers’ problems in a transformative way.
Last year was remarkable for the digital payments startup. Ripple has seen its strongest year of growth to date in 2019. The company raised $200 million in the Series C funding round at the time. It has also reportedly seen a 10-fold year-over-year growth in transactions, while the global payments network RippleNet grew to more than 300 customers worldwide.
As a vital part of promoting their vision, Ripple Labs launched a platform with ready-made blockchain frameworks, for blockchain development in the area of money transfer through its investment and partnership arm, Xpring. This platform offers tools, services, and programs that make it easier for developers to send and receive payments in any currency, across any network, using the XRP Ledger and Interledger Protocol (ILP). Thus, Ripple’s platform facilitates integrating money into apps.
The ultimate aim of this product is to “bring money to the Internet at the same core level as text, images and video [do] today”, as Xpring senior vice president Ethan Beard said.
The company now considers improving its global payments network and bringing the broader utility to the digital asset XRP and the XRP Ledger.
Ripple’s crypto XRP
XRP is the cryptocurrency that runs on a digital payment platform called RippleNet, based on a distributed ledger database called XRP Ledger. It was created by Ripple to be a faster, cheaper, and more scalable alternative to other digital assets and existing monetary payment platforms.
Despite being one of the top digital currencies on the market, the price of XRP remains quite low up to date. At the moment of writing 1 XRP equals $0,276493 USD or 0,00002384 BTC (according to CoinMarketCap).
The altcoin has never come even close to the Bitcoin’s all-time low price – $65.53 USD, not to mention its record-high – $20,089.00 USD. In fact, the most massive jump in value — up more than 1300% month-on-month – made XRP worth only $3.3. Nevertheless, that steep rise made the company’s co-founder and executive chairman, Chris Larsen, richer than Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, bringing him to the top 5 of the Forbes 400 list.
How is that possible? The answer is quite simple. XRP has a circulating supply of 45 billion coins with a max supply of 100 billion coins. Tallying up each coin’s worth plus the number of XRP in circulation brings the asset huge market value. In 2018, when its price soared, XRP was the second-largest digital currency behind bitcoin with a market cap of $115.1 billion. Currently, the coin still remains the third-largest crypto by market cap.
Its future, though, is very debatable. While some investors bet the coin won’t be able to make it past $1 by the end of this year, others believe in the coin’s brightest perspectives.
On the one hand, when it comes to the number of transactions per day, XRP has been significantly outpacing BTC. Coin Metrics shows that BTC averages around 300,000 transactions every 24 hours, but XRP is pushing 800,000 to 900,000 a day and has recently seen upwards of 2 million per day. Even now, with the questionable prospects, XRP is used 4 times more than Bitcoin in daily transactions.
On the other hand, a recent study has revealed that around 98% of all those transactions are not transferring any value.
Ripple Chief Technical Officer (CTO) David Schwartz confirmed those observations were true.
The future of Ripple
XRP believers think Ripple’s partnerships with financial incumbents will help XRP succeed. Over the past few years, the company has been establishing meaningful relationships with traditional financial institutions across the world, focusing on cross-border transactions.
MoneyGram started using Ripple’s On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) network for some of its global remittance operations in June 2019. The famous money transfer company also intended to reduce operating costs and speed up their cross-border payments with Ripple’s xRapid service. Ripple has so far paid MoneyGram $43 million to provide liquidity for its ODL network. Only in Q2 2020, the US remittance giant received $15.1 million from Ripple as “market development fees.” As stated by MoneyGram, ODL allowed the company to reduce its transaction fees by 75%.
In a Brainstorm 2019 conference, Hikmet Ersek, CEO of Western Union, said that they had been testing Ripple’s technology for some time. WU management had been studying and deliberating the “payments-as-a-service” (PaaS) model that Ripple (XRP) currently implements. It seems they continue to see potential in the digital asset. Rumors are that payment giant Western Union may be on the verge of acquiring Ripple’s partner MoneyGram. There may be a major adoption of ODL and XRP when it is incorporated into Western Union unless MoneyGram gets completely restructured to eliminate competition.
With major allegations regarding the potential partnership of Ripple and SWIFT circulating around for over a year, the two platforms have already introduced indirect cooperation via the payments provider R3. More recently, Payment solutions and consulting company, IBIS Management Associates Inc. announced that its customers will be able to connect to Ripple and SWIFT in their “pockets”, on one platform, bringing unlimited banking possibilities.
Unlike other crypto projects, Ripple actively partners with major banks all over the world like Bank of America, Westpac and Bank of Australia, the Royal Bank of Canada, the National Bank of Egypt, and others.
Meanwhile, XRP performance doesn’t currently reflect any investors’ hopes. In Q2 2020, eToro and the TIE registered over 904 thousands of new XRP followers meaning a 27% growth. At the same time, the number of investors fell by 15%. Altcoin’s quarterly return got as low as 1,54%. As per the eToro report, XRP is also among the bottom 5 of the crypto assets with the largest changes in Tweet volume. A decline of 21% is disturbing since, as a rule, the tweet volume curve coincides with the market cap trends.
The closest rival of Ripple’s altcoin is Tether. This stablecoin is gaining momentum and steadily approaching the $10 billion in market cap.
Nevertheless, comparing XRP to other cryptocurrencies is difficult due to its specific nature.
In other words, Ripple has never promised holders great returns on the profits. Its main purpose is to connect the global financial ecosystem, instead.