It goes without saying that the cryptocurrency market downturn of 2018/2019 irked many of this industry’s startups, even those which have established an unquestioned hegemony. An Ethereum Classic development group folded entirely, while Bitmain, ConsenSys, Steemit, Huobi, and ShapeShift most recently were mandated to purge staffers to maintain a sufficient financial runway. Yet, there have been a few crypto-friendly companies, namely Ripple that have excelled in this hostile environment.
On Tuesday, the San Francisco-headquartered firm revealed that it surmounted a key milestone, even as sellers continued to ravage the Bitcoin price.
Ripple Surmounts Milestones Amid Broader Crypto Crisis
Ripple Insights, the fintech firm’s in-house blog, released a report about its payment network, the fittingly-named RippleNet, on January 8th. In the short and to-the-point post, the American upstart’s team explained that 13 financial institutions, which hail from Canada to Kuwait, had just signed up for RippleNet, a self-described “frictionless experience” centered around transacting money globally.
These 13 new additions, five of which will “leverage the digital asset XRP” to source global liquidity, to the company’s clientele means that RippleNet now facilitates cross-border processes for over 200 clients.
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Speaking on the matter, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse, a technology entrepreneur with two decades in the “biz,” claimed that 2018 was his firm’s best performing year on record. More specifically, through the company blog, Garlinghouse explained that Ripple saw its customer base swell by 100 in the year prior. The company chief even quelled concerns that growth has slowed, noting that Ripple continues to sign “two — sometimes three — new customers per week.”
This monumental growth statistic, which is impressive for any startup, whether in the cryptosphere or otherwise, was just the proverbial edge of the iceberg, however. Garlinghouse added that year-over-year, the transaction count on RippleNet swelled by 350%, as a growing number of clients have begun to utilize the XRP asset.
Per a CNBC report from the outlet’s in-house crypto journalist, Kate Rooney, with RippleNet, Garlinghouse and his crew are looking to actively disrupt a $2 trillion industry. This financial industry arm, which has rapidly become a topic of focus for Ripple, is the cross-border payment realm, which has historically been ruled with an iron fist by often exploitative centralized banks.
As reported by SunshineCrypto previously, a majority of American banks, which utilize the centralized SWIFT ecosystem, charge upwards of a $30 flat rate for global wire transfers. And while Bitcoin has already proven itself to be a great alternative, touting sub-$1 transaction fees, practically instant transaction times, and censorship-resistance, Ripple believes it can further improve on the benefits touted by the de-facto grandfather of cryptocurrencies.
Commenting on the unspoken war that Ripple has essentially waged on SWIFT, Garlinghouse told Bloomberg TV that decentralized ledgers are “a massive step-function forward” compared to their centralized counterparts. Backing his claim, the industry insider noted that an unnamed remittance provider saw an 800% increase in usage and a 95% haircut in fees, when it implemented Ripple’s technology. Garlinghouse even claimed that if this unbridled success continues to propagate itself, the broad Ripple’s ecosystem will eventually “take over SWIFT.”
Considering the rate of growth that RippleNet has experienced, a world where blockchain-based technology runs the world’s finances might not be a quixotic dream.
The Fabled “Crypto Holy War”
Although many XRP proponents believe Ripple is fighting the good fight, as it were, many long-time Bitcoin diehards have been outspoken against the fintech firm’s seeming enamorment with the centralized financial realm. Some cynics have even argued that the American startup is in bed with bigwig banks, and prepared to flip the “killswitch,” subsequently killing decentralization.
Per SunshineCrypto’s previous reports on the matter, Bobby Lee, a co-founder of BTCC and a Bitcoin Foundation board member, told up-and-coming business outlet Cheddar:
“Ripple has the reputation of being centralized, even though some [of its] proponents claim that it is decentralized. So I do think that it is important [that we distinguish between the two], because the world up until Bitcoin’s invention has never seen some that is digital that is also decentralized.
Charlie Lee’s brother added that using the term “decentralized” for centrally-issued tokens, like XRP, can be “dangerous, and is a waste of a great terminology.” And interestingly, Lee isn’t alone in making such comments. Just recently, following the attack against the Ethereum Classic blockchain, XRP zealots took to Twitter to bash Proof of Work (PoW) ledgers, specifically for their inability to maintain transactional finality.
But, PoW believers took time to fight back. Rob Paone, better known as Crypto Bobby, noted that there’s a potential risk that Ripple is “very vulnerable to government[al action], regulators, and the like.” Gab.com, a pro-free speech, pro-crypto social media platform, explained that if Ripple Labs can freeze funds, whenever and for whatever reason, there’s a chance you might have a “scamcoin on your hands that isn’t decentralized.”
However, through the medium of a number of interviews and social media quips, Ripple’s c-suite have openly lambasted these critiques, claiming that this nitpicking behavior is reminiscent of a “holy war,” and is actually curbing this sector’s development cycle.
Speaking with Cheddar, Chris Larsen, who built XRP (once called OpenCoin) alongside Jed McCaleb, noted that “there’s currently a religious war going on between platforms,” adding that the “nonsense and FUD” that gets thrown around incessantly isn’t beneficial.
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