Three Reasons XRP Is Not a Security: Ripple’s Garlinghouse

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse was a featured panelist at the CB Insights Future of Fintech conference in New York today. Chief among the themes in the discussion was XRP, the No. 3 cryptocurrency based on market capitalization in which Ripple owns the majority of tokens.

While the No. 1 and No. 2 digital currencies, bitcoin and Ethereum, respectively, were cleared from being regulated as securities, Wall Street regulators have yet to make a call on XRP.

“I think it’s really clear XRP is not a security,” Garlinghouse said in the session.

There is a misconception in the cryptocurrency community that Ripple controls XRP. In fact, XRP is a decentralized digital currency that Ripple uses in its cross-border payments product xRapid. They could just as easily use bitcoin except “ bitcoin transactions on average are 45 minutes in and 45 minutes out. So XRP is uniquely positioned to solve the cross-border liquidity problem,” Garlinghouse said. 

He went on to outline a trio of reasons why XRP should never be identified as a security.

  1. “If Ripple as a company shut down tomorrow, the XRP ledger would continue to operate.”  
  2. “If you buy XRP, you’re not buying shares of Ripple.” As a holder of XRP, you’re not entitled to dividends or equity. Even though Ripple owns more than half of XRP, it doesn’t give them control of the currency, he said, comparing it to the dynamic between Saudi Arabia and oil. “Saudi Arabia owns a lot of oil, but they do not have control of oil.” 
  3. Utility. “XRP is solving a problem. There’s no security in a utility,” he said, adding that he “looks forward to the SEC clarifying some things.

Crypto Exchanges

Garlinghouse was diplomatic about cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase that have yet to add XRP to their trading platforms. In recent weeks, Coinbase announced that it would begin supporting Ethereum Classic (ETC), while many in the cryptocurrency community have been wondering when the U.S.-based exchange will add support for XRP.

“XRP is listed on 75 exchanges around the world. It has expanding liquidity … The consumer speculator is not our target market. Our target market is financial institutions that we can solve big problems for,” Garlinghouse noted.

Crypto Rivalry?

Yesterday Ethereum Co-Founder and ConsenSys Founder Joseph Lubin, who was included among the panelists, took a swipe at rival coin XRP, suggesting it is “massively overvalued.” The same question was posed to Garlinghouse during his session about Lubin’s ConsenSys. Garlinghouse took the high road, saying he was “excited” about them, adding they’re “underrated.”

XRP is the third largest cryptocurrency, boasting a market cap of $21 billion compared to more than $53 billion for Ethereum and $115 billion for bitcoin. Garlinghouse’s outlook is that at least one bank will be using it by year-end.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Gerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.