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The last 24 hours have been action-packed for the cryptocurrency markets, with digital assets rising off the SEC’s pronouncement that ethereum is not a security. But while most hodlers were toasting the agency’s announcement, one top five coin that failed to respond favorably was ripple. In today’s Bitcoin in Brief we consider where the SEC’s statement leaves XRP and examine a proposed solution to 51% attacks.
While Cryptos Leap, Ripple Stagnates
We live in strange times when an agency tasked with stamping out market manipulation is responsible for causing the biggest green candle in weeks. Two years ago, many cryptocurrency traders would have struggled to tell you what the SEC did, let alone named its chairman Jay Clayton. But in this new era of blanket regulation, not only is the crypto community familiar with the inner workings of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, but they’re dependant on it to boost their flagging portfolios.
Around the same time an SEC executive was opining that ethereum does not constitute a security, EOS finally reached the 15% voting threshold required to launch the network. This dual infusion of bullish news saw most major cryptos leap in price, with ETH and EOS the biggest beneficiaries. But while crypto hodlers partied, one altcoin community was left to stew in a corner. Ripple has seen a slender increase of just 0.5% in the past 24 hours, as the SEC’s definition of securities has left its status unclear.
The full speech from the SEC’s head of the Division of Corporate Finance William Hinman includes a series of questions for identifying whether an asset is likely to be deemed a security. These include:
- Is there a person or group that has sponsored or promoted the creation and sale of the digital asset, the efforts of whom play a significant role in the development and maintenance of the asset and its potential increase in value?
- Has this person or group retained a stake or other interest in the digital asset such that it would be motivated to expend efforts to cause an increase in value in the digital asset?
- Has the promoter raised an amount of funds in excess of what may be needed to establish a functional network, and, if so, has it indicated how those funds may be used to support the value of the tokens or to increase the value of the enterprise?
- Does the promoter continue to expend funds from proceeds or operations to enhance the functionality and/or value of the system within which the tokens operate?
- Do persons or entities other than the promoter exercise governance rights or meaningful influence?
It’s unlikely that the SEC is going to start making a habit of naming which coins do and don’t constitute a security. But it’s also unlikely, going by those questions, that ripple could be interpreted as as utility token.
An End to 51% Attacks?
Another altcoin that had a very good Thursday was Zencash. It’s bounced back from a recent 51% attack, jumping 17% off the news that Grayscale, led by Barry Silbert, will be making the coin its ninth investment. The group’s portfolios start at $ 400 million, rising to over $ 1.2 billion for bitcoin core. The Grayscale news helped the price of ZEN soar, but the more important story was the new whitepaper the team released on Thursday, which has implications for all Proof of Work coins.
In the document, Zencash propose changing Satoshi Consensus, also known as the longest chain rule, to a method that makes it “both technically infeasible and economically disastrous to attempt double spending”. ZEN aims to achieve this by introducing a penalty “in the form of a block acceptance delay in the amount of time the block has been hidden from the public network”. The team now hopes that other PoW coins will adopt this proposal with a view to mitigating further 51% attacks.
Bestmixer on the Difficulties of Maintaining Anonymity
You won’t find KYC on Coinmarketcap, but in the SEC-led compliance era, you’ll find that abbreviation at most on and off-ramps to the world of cryptocurrency. A couple of weeks ago, we reported on Bestmixer, a new bitcoin tumbler trying to restore privacy to cryptocurrency users who desire it. The team behind the project has since contacted news.Bitcoin.com to reassure users that Bitmixer’s coin mixing code is not used to track them.
They explain: “This functionality is necessary for any mixer…without such functionality any mixer can not be considered anonymous…We have to mark transactions because without marking transactions, we would not understand whether it is your money or not when you repeat mixing; it would be technically impossible. Thus, we protect our clients from return of their old coins to them during subsequent mixing. The marking excludes our clients’ deposit from the common pool, so that they can not use it if the BestMixer code is applied.”
They add: “The BestMixer code is necessary to protect a client from getting his old coins back under any circumstances – this is one of the key points on which the system is based. As for the use of the [premium service] Gamma pool there is no need to use the BestMixer code in this pool at all, since it is a separate pool, not tied in any way to either Alpha or Beta pool. How are the funds formed in this pool? It’s either investors’ money or our own reserves. And this pool is really going to be a big problem for startups like Chainalysis.”
Today Was a Good Day
All told, this week has ended a lot better than it began for cryptocurrency holders, unless you’re one of the five Floridians indicted for an $ 800,000 bitcoin home invasion robbery. Elsewhere, with decentralized cryptocurrencies such as BTC and ETH reveling in their non-security status, Xapo relishing its New York Bitlicense, and Zencash hopeful of a breakthrough in defending 51% attacks, there’s a lot of reasons to be cheerful right now. Don’t get too comfortable though: tomorrow’s a new day, with the potential to bring joy or jet lag to the restless cryptocurrency markets. As always, you’ll find the best and worst of it here in Bitcoin in Brief.
Do you think ripple is a security token and what are your thoughts on Zen’s proposal for stopping 51% attacks? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Zencash and Twitter.
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Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple CEO, answered candidly during an interview about crypto’s prospects for the future. Among other criticisms, he stressed blockchain technology is mostly hype, and that bitcoin core (BTC) is controlled by Chinese miners and has no hope of being a world currency.
Ripple CEO Bashes Bitcoin
Attendees of the 2018 Stifel Cross Sector Insight Conference in Boston yesterday were probably expecting to learn more about Ripple, the world’s third most popular cryptocurrency by market capitalization. After all, none other than company CEO Brad Garlinghouse was guest of honor for an interview with Stifel Tech analyst Lee Simpson. And while Ripple certainly was the hot topic, Mr. Garlinghouse also took the opportunity to bash its main decentralized competitor, bitcoin core (BTC).
“A number of prominent people,” Mr. Garlinghouse explained, “even Steve Wozniak, has said that he sees a world where Bitcoin is the primary currency. I think that’s absurd. I don’t think that any major economy will allow that to happen. By the way, it doesn’t make sense.” Indeed Woz has said as much, as have Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who predicted it would happen within the decade.
Brad Garlinghouse, 47, has held his present position since 2015. His professional background is almost all technology related. Stints with Yahoo!, AOL, working in the investment arena with the likes of Silver Lake Partners, @Ventures, @Home Network, SBC Communications, all round out his experience prior to Ripple.
His views about BTC and its eventual influence have found him very quotable of late, especially this month. He’s spent a great deal of time attempting to separate the coin aspect of Ripple (XRP) from the company itself, and this has lead to some interesting juxtapositioning in his method of argument.
BTC Blockchain Not Disruptive, Chinese in Control
During the Boston interview, he even took on the sacred cow of the corporate world, BTC’s distributed ledger technology. “There’s a lot of blockchain craziness, but there are three indicators of market winners. Blockchain will not disrupt banks […] it will play an important role in the way our system works. It’s a short-sighted view […]. Bitcoin is not the panacea we thought it would be.”
Mr. Garlinghouse then compared XRP to BTC. “This is how liquidity will be managed in the future. Bitcoin today takes 45 minutes to settle a transaction. Banks will use what is efficient and cheaper. And if you deliver a better product at a better price […] they will use it.”
An under-reported story, Ripple’s CEO insisted, is how BTC is “owned by China.” He noted, “The smartest thing you’ve done is not have ‘bit’ or ‘coin’ in your name. I’ll tell you another story that is underreported, but worth paying attention to. Bitcoin is really controlled by China. There are four miners in China that control over 50% of Bitcoin. How do we know that China won’t intervene? How many countries want to use a Chinese-controlled currency? It’s just not going to happen.”
Lastly, he assured, “I own bitcoin. Many people consider it as digital gold. I acknowledge, I’m long [on] crypto. I’d advise folks to only invest in crypto only what you’re willing to lose. It’s early to tell how it is going to play out. I think it’s a pretty good investing strategy. I don’t think about the digital asset market. I think about the customer experience. There are millions unbanked or underbanked. When I think about the transformation, it is fundamentally changing the way millions participate in banking. We can fundamentally change the way this works, to bring an entire population up a step in the system.”
Do you think Ripple’s CEO is correct? Let us know in the comments.
Images via the Pixabay.
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What’s the difference between Ripple the company and ripple (XRP) the cryptocurrency? Many people would assert “Not a lot” given that the former owns most of the latter and its founders were responsible for creating ripple in the first place. Ripple the company has other ideas though, and is on a mission to separate the two ripples – big and small – once and for all.
The Disambiguation of Ripple and XRP
For several months, Ripple has been on a mission to dispel the notion that it is responsible for the XRP currency it issues. Just as Prince once changed himself into a symbol, the project would like to turn its currency into a symbol and keep it that way. This is despite the fact that ‘XRP’ is simply a currency ticker derived from an abbreviation of the word ‘ripple’, just as XMR is an abbreviation of monero. To mark the distinction, a new logo has been proposed that is clean, minimalist and, tellingly, looks nothing like that of Ripple.
There’s even a community-run Twitter account for the new XRP symbol and Github which explains: “In order for XRP to be perceived as a ‘currency,’ it needs its own symbol. Just like the dollar sign ‘$ ,’ XRP needs a universal sign that denotes units of XRP. The current logo being used works great when referencing the company, and it should not be changed, but a character should be created to represent actual units of the digital asset.” The final logo has yet to be decided, but whatever version the community plumps for, it will look very different from the current shared logo of the company and coin.
Why the Rebrand?
It has been theorized that the company is seeking to distance itself from its eponymous currency in order to “desecuritize” it. The likelihood of XRP being a security, given the fact that Ripple has a majority holding, is strong. In the event of XRP being classified as such by the SEC it would have a major impact on XRP’s price and its availability on US exchanges. Given the foregoing, it makes sense for the company to emphasize the distinction between the company and XRP. It is likely to encounter significant difficulties, however, in convincing people that this is the case.
Semantics or Separate Things?
The case for why the company and XRP are separate entities, according to the company, revolves around the fact that the XRP ledger is open source, and thus any company can use it for their own purposes. While this is true, third party development has been few and far between, and the vast majority of XRP’s code commits have been performed by staffers. If the company can successfully separate itself from its currency, it is possible that the XRP ledger could become more attractive to companies wishing to utilize it for their own purposes. It seems unlikely, however, that the XRP ledger, for all its efficiencies, will become the Hyperledger of enterprise.
As cryptocurrency critic Preston Byrne has pointed out, the notion that “There’s not a direct connection between Ripple the company and XRP”, as stated by the company’s Director of Regulatory Regulations Ryan Zagone, simply doesn’t fly. The connections between the two are written all over the website, and every other third party news source. The Wikipedia page for Ripple (payment protocol) points out that “The network can operate without the Ripple company”, but evidence suggests that it would struggle to function if the company bowed out. For one thing, operating an XRP node requires obtaining permission from one of Ripple.com’s servers.
With 55 billion XRP locked in the company vaults, the simplest way for Ripple to rid itself of association with the cryptocurrency would be to burn the bulk of its supply of XRP. That wouldn’t look too good on its balance sheet though, and thus the campaign to rebrand ripple as XRP intensifies.
Do you think Ripple and XRP should be regarded as separate entities? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Ripple, and XRP Symbol Twitter.
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A class action lawsuit has been filed against Ripple Labs, its CEO, and subsidiary. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants have violated the state and federal securities laws, engaging in schemes to raise hundreds of millions of dollars through the sale of unregistered ripple tokens (XRP).
Class Action Lawsuit
San Diego resident Ryan Coffey has filed a “securities class action” lawsuit against Ripple Labs Inc, its CEO Bradley Garlinghouse, its wholly owned subsidiary XRP II LLC, and ten related persons. Attorney James Taylor-Copeland representing Coffey filed the lawsuit with the Superior Court of the State of California, seeking damages on behalf of Coffey and all others similarly situated.
According to the court document dated May 3, Coffey purchased 650 XRP at $ 2.60 per token around January 6 and sold them at approximately $ 1.70 per token around January 18. Coffey described:
[The lawsuit] arises out of a scheme by defendants to raise hundreds of millions of dollars through the unregistered sale of XRP to retail investors in violation of the registration provisions of state and federal securities laws.
‘XRP Genesis and the Never-Ending ICO’
Coffey detailed in his filing, “unlike cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum…all 100 billion of the XRP in existence were created out of thin air by Ripple Labs at its inception in 2013.”
Citing that 20 billion tokens were given to Ripple Labs’ founders and 80 billion to the company itself, he alleges that the defendants “earned massive profits by quietly selling off this XRP to the general public,” adding:
From 2013 to the present, [the] defendants have been engaged in an ongoing scheme to sell XRP to the general public in a never ending ICO…Defendants’ sales of XRP to the public accelerated rapidly in 2017 and early 2018.
He also claims that “these ICOs have become a magnet for unscrupulous practices and fraud.”
Coffey alleges that the “defendants market XRP to drive demand and increase [its] price,” including “blur[ring] differences between Ripple Labs’ Enterprise Solutions and XRP.” Other tactics include offering a bribe to Coinbase and Gemini exchanges to list XRP and promising R3, an enterprise software firm with a network of banks and financial institutions, a 5 billion XRP option, Coffey added.
At the time of this writing, XRP is trading at $ 0.91 on Bitfinex, a 73% drop from its high of $ 3.30 in January.
Violations of Securities Laws
Citing that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has made it clear that digital tokens including XRP often constitute “securities and may not be lawfully sold without registration with the SEC or pursuant to an exemption from registration,” Coffey elaborated:
The XRP offered and sold by [the] defendants have all the traditional hallmarks of a security…However, [the] defendants did not register XRP with the SEC, and many of the representations [the] defendants made regarding XRP were designed to drive demand of XRP, allowing defendants to obtain greater returns on their XRP sales.
Last month, the SEC stated that both XRP and ether could be classified as securities. However, Ripple’s chief market strategist, Cory Johnson, told CNBC in early April:
We absolutely are not a security. We don’t meet the standards for what a security is based on the history of court law.
Do you think this securities class action lawsuit against Ripple has any legs? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Trading View, and Ripple Labs.
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Former Obama administration financial regulator Gary Gensler believes cryptocurrencies such as ether and ripple appear as unregistered securities, and in current violation of the law. His comments carry considerable weight in the broader financial community. They also come after venture capitalists and lawyers invested in ether projects met secretly with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to head off such regulation. Spokespeople for both coins insist they’re not securities.
Ether and Ripple Might Be Securities
Former Obama CFTC head Gary Gensler told The New York Times, “I would be surprised if 10 years from now this isn’t somewhere in the financial system in a meaningful way. But so much of the stuff that is being promoted now will not be around.” The ‘this’ he’s speaking of is cryptocurrencies, and as part of his appointment to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Mr. Gensler is weighing in on the phenomenon’s future with regard to regulation.
In particular, he’s focusing upon two of the most popular cryptos, ether and ripple, as potentially very susceptible to future designation as securities. Should that happen, many experts believe it would herald the decline of both. Securities regulation imposes a host of legal burdens upon registrants, and costs to comply are often prohibitive and burdensome.
“There is a strong case for both of them — but particularly Ripple — that they are noncompliant securities,” he told Nathaniel Popper. Bitcoin and others like it are decentralized to such an extent as to not trigger regulation, he believes. That’s not so clear in the cases of ether and ripple, both of which Mr. Gensler insists are in violation of securities law.
“2018 is going to be a very interesting time. Over 1,000 previously issued initial coin offerings, and over 100 exchanges that offer I.C.O.s, are going to need to sort out how to come into compliance with U.S. securities law,” the Times quotes him as saying. Indeed, representatives with heavy financial interests in ether-related projects recently were discovered to have secretly pled their case to the SEC in hopes of heading off what some say is certain regulation. That’s a potential problem for tens of billions of dollars in coins respectively when ether and ripple are combined.
Impact Not Good
Should such a designation be handed down, one of crypto’s largest markets, the United States, would essentially be cut off, made against the law for trading ETH and XRP on exchanges. It’s not too extreme to figure such a move would impact both coins’ prices, and probably not in a good way.
Mr. Gensler, 60, was tapped by MIT’s Media Lab and its Digital Currency Initiative, along with being a lecturer at its Sloan School of Management (with a blockchain emphasis) for his expertise in the financial sector. His views on the future of regulation carry heft simply because of his past experience in the Obama administration, and previous connections to Goldman Sachs as well as helping to finance the ill-fated Hillary Clinton run of 2016.
Asked for comment about Mr. Gensler’s claims, the Ethereum Foundation answered how it “neither controls the supply of nor has the ability to issue Ether, and the quantity of Ether that the foundation holds (under 1 percent of all Ether) is already lower than that held by many other ecosystem participants,” according to the Times. A Ripple spokesperson responded by insisting, “XRP does not give its owners an interest or stake in Ripple, and they are not paid dividends. XRP exists independent of Ripple, was created before the company and will exist after it.”
Do you think ether and ripple should be regulated? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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For only the second time in its history, an attempt at tokenizing Ripple’s XRP ledger through an initial coin offering (ICO) is being seriously offered by a group not formally associated with the company. It’s an interesting juxtaposition for a project widely believed to be actively separating itself from the messiness of the cryptocurrency world. ICOs are an unintended use case, it turns out, for the legacy banking establishment’s favorite new settlement tech, and, if it proves successful, could push the XRP ledger into Ethereum territory.
Also read: India Searches for Ethereum Over Bitcoin
Ripple’s XRP Ledger Might Be an Accidental Ethereum
“XRP Ledger is open-source and a decentralized platform,” a Ripple spokesperson is reported to have commented, “so people can build whatever they want, but Ripple isn’t interested in promoting or supporting ICOs on the ledger.” The dismissive statement comes from the news that a Brazilian group of earnest XRP fans have launched Allvor, an ambitious ICO built on top of the tech, much in the way similar proposals happen on purpose with Ethereum.
ERC20 endeavours, however, come with considerable baggage, as less than honorable projects are associated with it. And in an increasingly competitive crowdfunding environment, entrepreneurs in this space are searching for inventive ways to present the idea. Ripple has long been associated with traditional banking concerns, and boasts about that fact. It’s safe to assume an ICO touting even a loose association with the third largest crypto by market cap, and darling of the status quo, might be able to attract a pretty penny.
Allvor bills itself as “the first cryptocurrency issued in the XRP Ledger with a focus on e-commerce,” writes Cleyton Domingues, co-founder and Public Policy and Management Officer in Brazil’s Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development. Mr. Domingues, along with associates Syval Peres and Leandro Gonçalves, insists “integrating the XRP Ledger’s superior technology with systems and protocols used in e-commerce as a way to boost the cryptocurrency use on a global scale,” breathlessly describing XRP as “the best and most efficient distributed database technology ever made.”
Complicating matters for Allvor are many-fold: for an ecommerce solution to work, it must have infrastructure, not just a claim to transaction speed, and that takes money; ALV, then, will be the token to help that process along. Furthermore, the project is bootstrapped which inevitably means an airdrop, which by the nature of the XRP Ledger means users must essentially agree to the project in order to receive and use ALV. And that bit is actually a selling point for Mr. Domingues, who believes such a feature allows for a kind of user control unheard of using Ethereum, for example.
Been There, Done That
At least one XRP enthusiast is voicing intense skepticism at the prospect of Allvor. “The total amount of ALV to be created equals to the total amount of XRP in existence,” a commenter wrote, “However Allvor has allocated only 5% for the initial release. Theoretically all XRP holders could apply for the Airdrop, so what happens in this case, 95% of them will be left out?”
There is also the issue of “telling a third anonymous party how much XRP you hold and what is/are your account(s). If you don’t use a proxy, you will reveal to Allvor your IP address too, because you will have to use their app to register, see their whitepaper. Maybe you will reveal even more, so far we don’t know what will the registration exactly look like,” the commenter worried.
To that end, XRP is having a heck of a time trying to get listed on exchanges. Notoriously, reports have it Ripple attempted to sweeten a potential exchange addition by offering gobs of money. No takers. This creates an interesting problem for those who might wish to alter their ALV position, attempting to cash out.
And this isn’t the first time a Ripple ICO has been tried. Summer of last year, Jon Holmquist launched an ill-fated project, only to be squashed two days later by way of US Securities and Exchange concerns. In answer, he stepped back completely, writing “I will not be participating in the auction at all. I will not put in a bid for any of the PRX tokens. I think I am legally barred from doing so in the U.S. under auctioneering laws.”
Do you think ICOs are XRP Ledger’s future? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, Jon Holmquist, Allvor.
In times of economic uncertainty, bitcoin flourishes. In times of high fees, litecoin prospers. And in times of Coinbase rumors, ripple shines. Today was one such day. In a repeat of December, January, and every other month, XRP has been linked with Coinbase, the altcoin rose rapidly in value on March 5…only to sink once the U.S. exchange debunked those rumors.
Also read: BTC Transaction Volume Reaches Two-Year Low
Ripple Does a Ripple
In the movie Groundhog Day, weatherman Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray, is forced to relive the same day over and over until he finally learns to get his affairs in order. Ripple fans seem to be stuck in their very own Groundhog Day, a recurring nightmare in which XRP only pumps when the Coinbase listing rumor is trotted out. For all the work Ripple have done in seeking to develop Middle Eastern partnerships and persuade banks to trial their cryptocurrency, it seems to have had little impact on price. At the mention of Coinbase, however, the coin embarks on a rapid ascent that puts other altcoins in the shade.
On March 5, XRP began one of those climbs and was soon the day’s best performer, up 15% to a peak of $ 1.07. Still a long way off from its January peak of $ 3.64, admittedly, but a solid start nonetheless, and enough to give ripplets hope that their chosen coin was undergoing a long-overdue revival. A Coinbase listing was coming, the word on the web went, and ripple was as good as confirmed. And then, cruelly, Coinbase broke its silence to state that it had no plans to add new altcoins any time soon. While it didn’t mention XRP specifically, the implication was clear: “We have made no decision to add additional assets to either GDAX or Coinbase. Any statement to the contrary is untrue and not authorized by the company.”
Ripple fans must feel like Brian Armstrong and co are taunting them. When will the dominant U.S. exchange finally add ripple and put an end to this eternal Groundhog Day? Not anytime soon, by the looks of it. Spreading rumors of a Coinbase listing – all it takes is a photoshopped API purporting to show the ticker – has become one of the easiest pumps to perpetrate.
The strange thing is that due to its already high liquidity, a Coinbase listing is likely to apply only a temporary bump in price. Thereafter, normal service will be resumed. Ripple bagholders may be overstating the importance of such a development, should it materialize. Coinbase did make one new listing today at least, announcing Linkedin exec Emilie Choi has joined as VP of Corporate and Business Development.
Do you think Coinbase is going to add ripple any time soon? Let us know in the comments section below.
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While some mainstream media sources will have you believe that bitcoin is only used for buying illicit drugs, contracting hitmen and laundering money, the truth is that it is being used for so much more than that – just like fiat currency. The latest example is a religious body that now allows members to donate using cryptocurrency.
Swiss Bitcoin Church
ICF Zurich, an evangelical church from the largest city in Switzerland, has begun accepting voluntary offerings from its parishioners using cryptocurrency. According to its website, the church accepts donations directly via bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), ether (ETH), ripple (XRP) and stellar lumen (XLM).
“Digital currencies and the blockchain technology will change our daily lives more and more in the next years,” the spokesperson of the church, Nicolas Legler, told Swiss news agency Idea. “Cryptocurrencies will be implemented, be it Bitcoin or other currencies controlled by the State. We are convinced that this technology will soon belong to our daily lives. Twenty years ago, no one would have believed that internet would determine our lives so much,” he added.
Preaching to the Young
According to an evangelical European news portal, this church is known for its use of all kinds of new technologies in its worship services and has many young members, some of which “are increasingly using this way of doing financial transfers.” This explains the choice of accepting cryptocurrency now, as the invention has taken a strong hold on early adopters in Switzerland, as it can help the church appear innovative and relevant to them.
We should also note that this is just another example of how young people are changing the donations practice. A couple of notable other examples include Pineapple Fund, the $ 86 million bitcoin charity which contributed towards developing MDMA as a treatment for PTSD, scalable healthcare in Nepal, combating elephant poachers, testing universal basic income in Africa, and much more; as well as Paxful’s #BuiltWithBitcoin initiative to help fund 100 schools in developing countries.
Is bitcoin acceptance an effective way of reaching young believers? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Through late 2017 and early 2018, ripple was the darling of cryptocurrency. Mainstream media couldn’t get enough of it, South Koreans couldn’t get enough of it, and nor could crypto newcomers, who had XRP top of their shopping list. Crypto moves at a blistering pace, though, and ripple’s decline has been as rapid as its rise. Now the dust has settled and the hype dissipated, a retrospective reveals the mass hysteria behind the rise and fall of ripple.
Ripple: A Case Study in Collective Obsessional Behavior
In the Middle Ages, a group of nuns in a French convent began randomly mewing like cats. In 1518, the Dancing Plague in Strasbourg caused people to keel over from exhaustion after gyrating for days. In 1962, a laughter epidemic broke out in a girls’ boarding school in Tanzania. And in late 2017, the world became convinced that ripple was a valuable commodity. As ripple’s market capitalization surged, there was even talk of it overtaking bitcoin to become the world’s dominant cryptocurrency. Looking through the timeline reveals the sequence of events that contributed to the rise and fall of XRP.
Phase 1: Stagnation
Up until two months ago, ripple was the great sleeper of cryptocurrency. Due to the vast number of XRP in existence, its huge market cap meant it was a constant presence in the cryptocurrency top 10. Traders hated it though, dubbing it Cripple, while decentralization purists had more ideological reasons for disliking XRP, arguing that it wasn’t even a cryptocurrency.
After briefly surging in May, ripple entered into a lengthy slump. Between August and December 2017, XRP traded at between 16 and 26 cents, while other altcoins were recording exponential gains. It seemed that ripple’s time would never come. But then, on December 9, XRP began to climb.
Phase 2: Take-Off
Between December 9 and 16, ripple grows from 24 cents to 88 cents, gaining 366% in a week.
12/13: Forbes asks “Is XRP The Next Crypto Rocket ‘To The Moon’?
Phase 3: Enthusiasm
From December 17-22, ripple rises from 76 cents to $ 1.19, growing another 160% in under a week. The coin is now up 500% in a fortnight.
12/17: Oracle Times writes “3 Reasons Why Amazon Will Choose Ripple (XRP) in 2018”
12/22: Bloomberg writes “Bitcoin Is So 2017 as Ripple Soars at Year End”
Phase 4: Greed
Ripple finishes the year with another huge leap, going from $ 1.19 on December 23 to $ 2.24 on December 29, gaining 188%.
12/30: News.bitcoin.com asks “Is the Centralized Ripple Database With the Biggest Pre-Mine Really a Bitcoin Competitor?
Phase 5: Delusion
Ripple starts the year with another run, going from a low of $ 1.93 on December 31 to an all-time high of $ 3.86 on January 4.
01/02: In a soon to be notorious feature, CNBC educates its readers on “How to buy ripple, one of the hottest bitcoin competitors”. On the same day, Forbes’ Laura Shin points out that two of Ripple’s founders are now billionaires, with Chris Larsen the 15th richest man in America. Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence stacks up suggesting that office workers, moms, manual laborers, and many others with no previous knowledge or interest in cryptocurrency are asking about ripple.
01/03: News.Bitcoin.com notes how ripple’s market cap is now 40% that of bitcoin’s, raising the possibility of “The Rippening”.
01/04: As ripple hits its all time high, news.Bitcoin.com explains that Ripple Gateways Can Freeze Users’ Funds at Any Time. Ripple’s chief cryptographer David Schwartz rages hard and pens a Quora rebuttal in which he notes that “Ripple is not a gateway and only gateways can freeze.” So exactly what the article title said then.
On the same day, NYT’s Nathaniel Popper writes a Ripple feature that’s widely perceived as negative, quoting Ari Paul as saying “I’m not aware of banks using or planning to use the XRP token at the scale of tens of billions of dollars necessary to support XRP’s valuation”. Popper finishes “even virtual currency analysts who believe in Ripple’s software have said there is a big difference between Ripple the company being successful, and Ripple the token gaining enough traction to justify current prices.”
01/05: Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse lashes out at Popper on Twitter:
Phase 6: New Paradigm
Over the next four days, ripple dips slightly, but by January 8 is still sitting at $ 3.36, up 1,400% in a month.
01/05: Coinbase rejects rumors that it is planning to add new assets, scorching the prospect of XRP being listed.
01/07: British newspapers are now heavily shilling ripple, with the Express describing it as “the exciting new cryptocurrency that has sparked interest from crypto investors”. In another piece filed the same day, it asks “Is it better to invest in XRP than Bitcoin?”
01/08: News.Bitcoin.com describes ripple as vaporware, noting “Ripple claims to have signed up over 100 banks, but the trouble is none of them seem to be using XRP tokens for money transfer”. Ripple supporters are not amused.
Phase 7: Denial
Over the course of the next week, ripple begins to drop and then keeps on dropping, reaching a low of 89 cents on January 16 as the entire crypto market takes a tumble. It is now down 430% from its peak 12 days earlier and is no longer the second largest cryptocurrency.
01/10: Three days after touting ripple as a bitcoin competitor, the Express writes: “Why is XRP falling so fast? What’s happening to Ripple?”
01/11: News that Ripple has signed an agreement with a money transfer service causes XRP to climb 20% before sliding again as it becomes apparent that Moneygram are only testing ripple in a single location.
01/16: Forbes documents the decline of ripple, quoting one analyst as saying: “You couldn’t turn on your TV last week and not hear about XRP or its CEO…Once Coinbase said they weren’t adding any new assets the pullback started. Now everyone is continuing to take profits.”
One commenter tweets “That CNBC pump is gonna be stock footage in every documentary they make about 2018 for the next 50 years.”
Phase 8: Return to Normal
As the crypto markets start to recover, ripple claws back some of its losses, reaching $ 1.43 on January 21. It is still up almost 600% from the start of December, but is down 270% from its peak. “Early adopters” who bought XRP a month ago are in profit, but the masses who bought in at peak mania are heavily in the red. The mainstream media stop writing about ripple, and housewives shelve plans to put their savings into “the next bitcoin”.
01/18: Financial Times writes how it “spoke to 16 banks and financial services companies publicly linked to Ripple. Most had not yet gone beyond testing…none of the banks who spoke to the FT had used XRP.”
Where ripple goes next remains to be seen, though the Classic Stages of a Bubble chart has some firm suggestions:
The reality may prove more prosaic: ripple is unlikely to disappear from trace, but nor is it likely to trouble bitcoin’s market cap, which is now 3.5x greater than that of the centralized pretender which, for three heady days in January 2018, looked like it might actually be capable of achieving The Rippening. If Ripple can finally persuade a major bank to use XRP, and not just for test purposes, it could see another surge. Right now though, the heady days of $ 3+ ripple seem like a lifetime ago.
Ripple isn’t the first asset to be shilled to the moon and back, and it certainly won’t be the last. When the cryptocurrency history books are written, ripple will go down as a textbook case of mass hysteria, right up there with the dancing plague and the laughter epidemic.
Do you think ripple has peaked or does XRP still have further to run? Let us know in the comments section below.
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