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Decoding Ripple

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Market Update: As of this writing, bitcoin is up to almost $10,800 with ETH at $962. Great news. What we saw this week was slow, consistent gains. It looks like most coins are gaining 3-10% daily, with not too much parabolic activity that would make me more nervous. We had a ton of tailwinds, too many to count. A White House Official said cryptocurrency regulation would not be in the immediate future, Wyoming & Colorado are trying to legislate crypto-friendly offerings/enforcements, and of course “Coinbase Merchant” was launched; which is a payment platform for businesses to begin accepting cryptocurrency payments. I couldn’t think of a better way to end the Chinese New Year.

Big players are announcing partnerships, and of course, Ripple leads the pack. A coin is only as good as their buyers, so I want to make sure that all of my readers know who those buyers could potentially be, and what they can buy. I want provide a background on Ripple & their 3 Products (Xrapid, Xcurrent, Xvia). Ripple is one of my largest holdings, so full disclosure here.

Ripple’s Market

Ripple’s products are all designed to work with businesses on sending and receiving payments instantly and securely. Their main competitor is the incumbent, the SWIFT system.

SWIFT facilitates money wire transfers, with many checks and balances along the way. Overall, it takes about 3-5 days to clear a transaction with the SWIFT system. That means if you want to send money from USA to Germany, you can either wait a long time or you can pay a high fee to get it there quicker (via Remittance company like Western Union). During your wait time, there is also security risk. Just recently, we saw hackers take SWIFT via a Russian Bank for $6M. When you don’t encrypt your transfers & information, there is always a possibility that someone is smart enough to hack in.

The SWIFT system, regardless of Ripple’s success, will phase out of existence. Their way of transferring money in the 21st century is outdated, and people should expect more out of their financial institutions than their money going through the equivalent of snail mail to get to it’s recipient.

Blockchain is a simple solution for payment processing, which is why you are getting so many people trying to enter the space altogether. There are trillions of dollars being moved back and forth each year around the world, and there are certain niches that will require different blockchain characteristics to serve them. One of them is banks & remittance companies. They need Anti-Money Laundering/Know Your Customer procedures built in, just like the SWIFT system. Ripple (and Lumens!) designed their chains/coins specifically for this purpose.

XCurrent

The product I hate to love. This is Ripple’s solution for bank cross-border transactions. Their system not only uses blockchain, but also validates the parties in the transaction and the transaction itself BEFORE it even takes place, so there is no wait time in between.

One bank wants to send money to another bank, with a “correspondent bank” (wire facilitator) in the middle. There is a message sent from the sending bank that will outline their intended transaction. Ripple will decode the message, and put it into ledger format for all 3 banks to read, compliance screen, and validate instantly (Inter-ledger Protocol). Sender, receiver, account information, and transaction details are all used to determine the fee that each bank will tack on for their services to determine total cost to sender for approval.

The next step is cryptographic hold of funds. This puts a hold on the transaction at all 3 banks, so that they can generate a cryptographic signature that will serve as evidence that funds are available and have been pledged for dispensing. In other words, the banks send each other “I’m ready” signals. Once all parties have provided their cryptographic signatures, Ripple automatically releases the transaction, which is sent and settled within seconds.

Communication and uniformity are the solutions that Ripple brings with this system. No longer should banks have inboxes and outboxes. Blockchain ledgers automatically validate participants in the transaction, and the blockchain itself can serve as the highway to transfer the funds instantly. Overall, this is expected to yield a 30% decrease in transaction costs for customers, while also providing instant settlement. No brainer.

Raiden, why do you love to hate it? This is the main side chain product culprit. You don’t need to use XRP in these scenarios, and banks aren’t. Sure, there is some trial periods, but I haven’t heard a major bank using XCurrent with XRP. This is when I wish I was a shareholder, not a coin holder. The best we can hope for is that XRP will become a base currency for banks once society has warmed up to the thought of virtual shells that encapsulate and mimic the value of fiat currency. Until then, I am not happy when I hear the word XCurrent.

XRapid

Our future hero. This is XCurrent, but with XRP being added in. Cross-Border/Currency payments are completely inefficient. In order for me to send dollars and someone to receive Rupees, Currency (USD) must be sent to a correspondent bank, and exchanged in a “Nostro-Account”, which serves as a liquidity pool of the foreign currency (INR). Then it has to be sent to the receiving bank in the foreign currency, going through the wire system. Long, expensive, and complicated. It is so troublesome, that most banks and remittance companies need to set minimums on transactions because it is so economically inefficient for smaller users.

Nostro-Accounts, what Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse calls “Dormant Cash” are just pools of sitting money that have to remain there in order to convert all of these cross-currency transaction requests. XRP can serve as the unified currency for all banks to transact with, and exchange into their intended currency. Ripple takes a multi-step/multi-party process, and eliminates almost of all it.

The U.S. dollar can eventually take the form of XRP, be sent anywhere in the world, and XRP will then take form of the intended foreign currency, and settle itself within the intended bank account. As coin holders, this is what everyone should be dreaming of prior to the Beta version launch in the Spring of 2018.

During my research, Ripple’s 2016 White Paper was the only source I could find to properly explain this system, and even my explanation may be lacking. This system is expected to free up massive amounts of Emerging Market liquidity through the lessening use of the “nostro-account” system, while also cutting transaction costs by up to 60%. I am trying to get my hands on more XRapid material, but this is very very new. I am going to keep you all posted on developments, as I have set up an RSS feed to give me anything related to XRapid as it comes out in the future.

Xvia

This system for is a platform for point of sale payments. There is not one piece of information on XVia. It is actually kind of scary how little information is available on any of these products. Here is my most educated guess based on the limited information. This is Ripple’s version of Coinbase Merchant. It is software that can be imbedded in E-Commerce sites that people can use XRP to pay for goods and services. Based on the level of information, XVia is not going to be used in the near future. If it is, then their customers must have more information on it than the public does.

Conclusion

This research was tougher than I expected. Ripple has provided good information on XCurrent, but the others are severely lacking. There also isn’t much interest in the Youtube community, with rocket ship memes being more important than content. As a coin investor, I am disappointed. Their main product right now is private labeling chains, which does not benefit coin holders. I want more information on XRapid and Xvia. You can go look at my Lumens article. There is enough information from Jed, IBM, and followers to fill a textbook. If Ripple wants to have products listed on their site, there better be some information for me to look at. We may not be owners, but we are investors. I think it’s time for them to start treating us that way.

 

None of what I am saying is an offering to buy or sell coins. Full disclosure, this author owns XRP. You certainly wouldn’t think it based on this article! I wish you the best of luck on the exchange. Please do follow me @raijincrypto on Twitter. I try to send out thoughts throughout the week.

 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Morgan Chase’s JPM Coin: A Banker’s Intranet, or the First Major Attack on Bitcoin?

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JP Morgan Chase unveiled plans for its JPM Coin on Thursday, sending the cryptocurrency universe into equal fits of both rancour and rapture.

While some see institutional adoption of cryptocurrency as the most bullish news of 2019, many are not quite sold on the concept; and some are already fearing the emergence of a ‘Ripple Killer’ or even a ‘Bitcoin Killer’.

As ever, the truth is probably more subtle, and more interesting than the sensational headlines suggest.

JPM Coin ‘Would Have Pumped BTC’ In Bull Market

At the most extreme end of the enthusiasm spectrum we have the assertion by one ‘crypto influencer’ on crypto-twitter that JPM Coin would have have positive effects on Bitcoin in a bull market scenario.

“This JP Morgan news would have pumped $BTC $1000+ in a bull market…”

Of course, a $1,000 increase when BTC’s priced at $20,000 is very different from when BTC’s priced at $3,000. One would equal a 5% increase, and the other a 33.3% increase – but let’s not deprive influencers of their fun and games.

One thing that influencers are good for is that the following they attract (43k in this case) can be put to good use. The poll below, taken from a relatively large sample size, shows that opinion is split on what JPM means for the broader crypto market.

Poll results showing response to JPM Coin.

But let’s bear in mind that all that really happened was a new stablecoin was announced. The concept of it having a bullish or bearish effect on the cryptocurrency sphere is a loose one.

Bitcoin and Ripple Killer?

Any notion of JPM Coin being a Bitcoin killer was put to bed pretty quickly in this takedown by CCN’s P.H. Madore: Why JP Morgan’s ‘Bitcoin Killer’ Isn’t Even a Real Cryptocurrency – but that didn’t stop panic from spreading initially.

Where panic might be more readily directed however is in the vicinity of Ripple and XRP. Not to underplay some of Ripple’s payment solutions – which have already been massively adopted – but if major institutions now have the choice of doing business with JP Morgan Chase, or the often controversial, and relatively unknown Ripple Labs, which one are they more likely to choose?

A Banker’s Intranet?

Cypherpunk and maintenance man for one of the internet’s prime hubs of blockchain info, Jameson Lopp compared JP Morgan Chase’s stablecoin to private bankers intranets of the early 90s. He said:

“Banker stablecoins are a step forward, just as banker intranets were in the 1990s. Adoption of this technology will make the transition smoother when they are forced to capitulate and adopt the Internet of Money.”

This is probably a fairer assessment of the situation, and one that gives room for nuance – although the nuance is shattered by the cock-sure assertion that Bitcoin will become the internet of money.

Speaking of bankers intranets – one can imagine internet diehards complaining in the early 90s that the bankers were taking over their thing – their apparatus for freedom, from censorship and surveillance by corporations and the state – and that soon the internet would be taken over by the very people they had hoped to escape.

But that didn’t happen… did it?

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 147 rated postsGreg Thomson is a full-time crypto writer and digital nomad. He eats ICOs for breakfast and bleeds altcoins. Wherever he lays his public key is his home.




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Solve.Care Has Potential to Transform the Field of Healthcare Administration

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The last few years have been a crazy ride in the crypto markets.  We’ve seen both the buying frenzy and the panic selling.  Although the industry has a lot of potential, it is undoubtedly true that many projects will fizzle out during the next 12-24 months.  Traders need to carefully analyze projects that have the best chance for real world adoption.  Part of the analysis certainly needs to center around projected industry growth.  One of the areas in desperate need of transformation is healthcare administration and Solve.Care may have just the solution.

Problems with Traditional Healthcare

Healthcare administration around the world has become plagued by inefficiencies and soaring costs.  Global spending on health exceeds $8 trillion annually and is expected to increase to $18 trillion worldwide by 2040.  In the U.S. alone, up to $1 trillion is wasted through administrative costs, over-utilization, and fraud.  Much of this waste is due to an obsolete and cumbersome healthcare system.  These issues have placed a massive strain on patients, doctors, and system administrators for far too long.

For doctors, one of their major complaints is the amount of time spent completing paperwork and dealing with insurance companies.  For patients, one of the major complaints is lack of face time with their primary care physicians.

Change is definitely needed and that’s where Solve.Care comes into the picture.

What is Solve.Care

Solve.Care is a transformative healthcare administrative platform designed for use by patients, employers, doctors, healthcare groups, and insurance businesses.  This platform is the first to use blockchain technology as the underlying distributed ledger for all care events between patient, doctor, pharmacy, laboratory, insurer, and other parties.

Patients are encouraged to manage their healthcare decisions.  Employers can use the platform to administer benefits, reduce costs, and reward their employees.  Doctors and hospitals can issue prescriptions, manage appointments, and coordinate with a specialist.

The platform has the potential to save billions of dollars in annual costs by better coordinating all the normal healthcare administrative operations and thereby eliminating all the inefficiencies.

Prior Accomplishments

Solve.Care completed it’s token sale in May 2018 and has since had its token, SOLVE, listed on Bittrex and KuCoin.  The company sold 350 million tokens with a 100% subscription rate.  That certainly speaks to the demand of both the token to use Care.Wallet and the platform’s potential for real world adoption.

The company had made it a priority to hire some of the best talent in the world.  More than 100 people are currently working in the company with approximately 70 of them being engineers.  The engineers are making rapid progress as the platform is being continually expanded and improved.

Whenever new technology attempts to disrupt an industry hanging on to outdated software and practices, it is imperative that startup companies have the right leadership.  Fortunately, Solve.Care appears to have someone very capable at the top.  The company is led by Pradeep Goel, who has been in the CEO, COO, CIO and CTO roles at various technology companies over the past 26 years.  Pradeep has a wealth of knowledge from both the private and public sectors, most notably from his time designing and building solutions for public programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and SNAP.  Pradeep has also been named in the Goldman Sachs list of the top 100 entrepreneurs in the world.

The company has a growing pipeline with more than 25 clients and partnerships.  Perhaps the most impressive of which was the recent deal struck with Arizona Care Network.

Arizona Care Network Partnership

Solve.Care has a proven track record of developing blockchain-based healthcare solutions and introducing them to the U.S. healthcare market.

In February 2018, Solve.Care announced a multi-year contract for its decentralized healthcare administration platform with Arizona Care Network (ACN), one of the largest accountable care organizations in the United States.  ACN manages value-based care contracts for its network of more than 5,500 physicians covering more than 250,000 members.

David Hanekom, CEO of Arizona Care Network, had this to say about the partnership:

“ACN is focused on innovation in the healthcare industry and seeks to be the leading technology-enabled ACO in the U.S.  This is why we chose to partner with Solve.Care, a true innovator in the healthcare administration and payments sector.  Solve.Care brings a lot to the table in terms of their ability to simplify and decentralize complex processes related to value-based care delivery and payments.  We couldn’t be more excited as a result of this partnership and look forward to launching the platform with our providers and members.”

Since that announcement, Solve.Care has continued to innovate with the launch of Care.Wallet for Physician and Care.Wallet for Family.

Care.Wallet for Physician Development

Care.Wallet for Physician, launched in October 2018, allows the providers of the Network to track the successes and overall score, while receiving corresponding rewards according to the Provider Rewards Program.  These value-based payments inside the network of 5,500 physicians are happening with the healthcare digital currency, Care.Coin.  It is important to note that Solve.Care is the first company to implement digital currency and blockchain technology for value-based payments in the U.S. healthcare industry.

Conclusion

Of all the industries, I can’t think of any that needs a complete overhaul more than health administration and care coordination.  With soaring costs and an aging population that will need quick and easy access to care in the coming years, this is an area that could see a lot of innovation in the near future.  Solve.Care is already doing its part to transform the industry, and will no doubt reap the rewards for its innovative spirit.

 

 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Gold Rush 2.0: Who’s Selling Shovels to the Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Pioneers?

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There’s an old saying that goes something like: “During a gold rush, sell shovels.”

At the height of the California gold rush, the most profitable venture (on average) was not mining for gold itself, but selling the tools that facilitated the mining of gold.

The legacy of this fact is still present even today – your Levi jeans are a product of Bavarian immigrant Levi Strauss, whose business boomed when he began manufacturing tough, durable trousers specifically for gold miners.

While adventurers took to the hills in search of their fortunes, the more conservative personalities found a way to make money from the process before a pick-axe even struck the soil.

So who are the ‘shovel sellers’ in the cryptocurrency space?

Exchanges

By the second quarter of 2018, Binance had already become more profitable than Germany’s Deutsche Bank. That was less than a year after launch, and the exchange’s meteoric rise was such that the likes of Forbes and Business Insider began writing about the likelihood of $1 billion yearly profits being recorded by CZ and the gang in 2018

By the end of the year those profits ended up being closer to half a billion, and Binance’s BNB utility token was the only major altcoin to increase in value from 2018 to 2019.

Although exchanges aren’t in the business of selling physical tools essential to cryptocurrency mining or usage, they do occupy a gatekeeper role similar to local goldsmiths in the old west. Yes, gold miners could just keep their bounty to themselves and use it (with some difficulty) as its own self-contained currency. But if they wanted to exchange it for an equivalent value of fiat currency, then they’d have to go through a confirmation and notarization process – one which would require some form of KYC, and would ultimately demand a percentage fee.

With the presence of authority-less services like Local Bitcoin, and a recent increase in the number of decentralized exchanges, it may seem surprising that one of the most profitable gigs in the cryptocurrency space happens to be that of a centralized exchange.

However, this phenomena makes a little more sense when viewed through the lens of human nature: Read: 5 Things Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Investors Should Beware of in 2019.

Mining Tools

Perhaps the most obvious example of ‘selling shovels’ to the crypto space comes from the mining hardware industry.

Bitmain Technologies Ltd has already earned its co-founder and CEO, Micree Zhan, an estimated $4 billion in profit – all from selling mining equipment to would-be cryptocurrency prospectors.

Towards the end of last year Bitmain announced its intention to undergo an initial public offering (IPO) – predicted to be worth an estimated $18 billion if it goes ahead. There are some obstacles to overcome before that can happen, such as gaining the approval of Hong Kong’s financial regulators.

But with that kind of money flying around, there’s a good chance Bitmain could become the modern day Levi. Even if crypto mining fades out due to concepts like Proof-of-Stake, we’d most likely see Bitmain continue to sell shovels of some kind, even if it were just general computing technology.

Bitmain’s estimated worth if the IPO goes ahead will eclipse the market capitalizations of Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), EOS (EOS) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) combined – possibly the best example of ‘selling shovels’ since the gold rush itself?

Storage

Cryptocurrency can be stored safely on its native blockchain without too much trouble. However, if you want to gain access to your funds in order to spend it, divide it, or move it from place to place, then you’re going to need a wallet service of some kind.

Many free software wallets exist for this purpose, however not all of them can be trusted. The most secure way to store cryptocurrency is with a hardware wallet.

The popularity of the secure storage service offered by Trezor is such that it had become a multi-million dollar industry by as early as 2017. That’s the same year the company had to issue an apology to its customers after it ran out of stock due to high demand, when a spike in the value of BTC saw a sudden influx of Trezor orders:

“With much regret, Satoshi Labs would like to inform you that due to the exceedingly high and unanticipated demand associated with the increase in bitcoin value, our stock at TREZOR Shop has been depleted. We would like to sincerely apologize for this inadequate foresight related to the development of bitcoin value. Production plans have been fixed and this situation should not occur in the future again.”

Ledger hardware wallets have proven just as popular in recent years, or even more so considering their compatibility with a higher number of cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile numerous would-be usurpers to the Ledger/Trezor dominance have also attempted to make their presence felt, with varying degrees of success.

Conclusion

In terms of pure profit, wouldn’t it be accurate to say that the people involved in the peripheral industries surrounding cryptocurrency have found more success than those involved in the main industry itself?

This also raises the question of just what the main industry is – is it mining? Is it trading? Is it purely the pursuit of profit? Or does all of this amount to no more than the setting of foundations for the true crypto use-case – i.e. it’s role as a global transactional currency?

Note that I didn’t mention the phenomena of ‘blockchain influencers’ and self-professed ‘experts’ – another booming industry that seeks to siphon off value from the main expedition; and one that also had its equivalency during the gold rush era.

When the global cryptocurrency market struck its all-time high on January 7th, 2018, its $835 billion valuation was worth 11% of the total value of all the gold ever mined (according to current gold prices).

If the value of cryptocurrencies continue to increase as the global supply available from mining continues to decrease (as predicted), then the gold rush isn’t anywhere close to being over – and it may be worth figuring out how to sell a few shovels of your own.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 147 rated postsGreg Thomson is a full-time crypto writer and digital nomad. He eats ICOs for breakfast and bleeds altcoins. Wherever he lays his public key is his home.




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