As 2018 draws to a close, many are focusing on the challenges that lie ahead. The digital asset markets are down, and we’ve seen the industry contract as a result. But, the outlook may not be so bleak. This year has brought with it progress on a number of fronts—a convergence of factors—that we believe will set the stage for broad adoption of the technology in 2019.
Most notably, this year, we saw the important role of regulatory clarity for blockchain and digital assets unfold. In jurisdictions around the world, regulators, recognizing the potential of this new technology, took action and began releasing thoughtful legal frameworks for how to use digital assets. By no coincidence, these regions—several among the ASEAN countries—have been at the forefront of innovation in the space.
We also saw mainstream acceptance and adoption from Fortune 500 companies and institutional investors alike. Announcements of blockchain-focused initiatives were issued from Blue Chip companies like IBM and Visa, and reports of Goldman Sachs Group, JPMorgan Chase and others exploring or already working on crypto-custody services surfaced.
At Ripple, this industry-wide progress has manifested in several notable company milestones—breakthroughs in both the growth and impact of our business and technology.
Breakthrough Reach and Digital Asset Adoption
Our global payments network of more than 100 financial institutions worldwide, RippleNet, now spans 40 countries across six continents. This year RippleNet began providing on-demand liquidity for cross-border payments using the digital asset XRP. MercuryFX, Cuallix and Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union were among the first customers on RippleNet to leverage xRapid, the Ripple product powering these transactions, and deliver faster, cheaper and more transparent payments to their customers.
Brad Ganey, senior vice president and COO of Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union offered this additional context, “The traditional international wire experience fails to meet today’s expectations from a price, speed and ease-of-use perspective. Blockchain technology, and specifically Ripple’s xRapid product, resolves all three of these challenges simultaneously.”
Breakthrough Payment Services
Other customers began leveraging RippleNet in 2018 to expand access to new regions. Santander’s OnePay FX and CoinOne Transfer’s Cross mobile apps are now offering better remittance services that span Asia, Europe and Latin America thanks to Ripple technology. They’re reaching millions of customers worldwide who may have never had access to services like this before.
Breakthrough Customer Impact
Ripple is also helping to improve our customer’s customers experiences—those who are perhaps most deeply impacted by the friction in cross-border payments today. This friction can be measured in time, cost and error rates, but with Ripple’s technology, that’s all changing. Just last month, our customer BeeTech was able to eliminate SWIFT fees for all of its remittance corridors, dropping in its own fees from $20 to $2 per transaction in the process.
BeeTech Customer and Founder of Euro Dicas Erick Gutierrez provided more color on the value that these improved services provide, “My money arrives fast, and I can see all fees. Finally, I trust receiving money from Brazil to pay bills and live well in Europe.”
Breakthrough XRP Utility and Academic Advancements
While this market traction has had profound impact for our customers and their customers, Ripple’s year of breakthroughs also expanded beyond the cross-border payments use case.
We saw new utility and diversity spread across the XRP ecosystem. Ripple launched the Xpring initiative in May to build infrastructure and drive growth in blockchain through investments and partnerships. In just half a year, Xpring has helped develop several notable blockchain projects, including SB Projects, Coil, Omni and Securitize.
Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI), also established this year, has driven impressive advancement in academics. Through UBRI, Ripple has partnered with more than 30 leading universities around the world and committed over $50 million in funding to support increased research and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrency and FinTech.
McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin is one university at the heart of this UBRI effort. Professor Cesare Fracassi, the director of the University’s new Center for Analytics and Transformational Technologies, recently shared his goal for the program, “to make blockchain core to the University—in a way that reflects its reach and use in the real world.”
Bring on the New Year
No doubt, breakthrough momentum in 2018 for both the industry and Ripple was clear and far-reaching, but what exactly does this mean in the year to come?
We predict 2019 will not only bring further regulatory clarity and widespread awareness of the impact this new technology offers, but also, it will be the year that interest and investment in blockchain and digital assets gives way to broad adoption. The year when a critical mass of financial institutions begin relying on this technology to drive global payments, and as a result, we begin to change the way money moves around the world.