From Developers to Merchants: The Art of Building a Smaller World

They’re two of the fundamental tenets of civilization: making tools to transform the world around us and trading value to facilitate that creation. With the launch of the Ripple Developer Portal, Ripple Labs hopes to make both those processes easier for everyone—from coders in Silicon Valley to jewelers in Badalona, Spain.

As we mentioned earlier this week, the new developer portal will provide documentation, updates on new features and giveaways, and generally just better support the people that matter the most. And just as Steve Ballmer hilariously reminded us what now seems like ages ago, developers are the heart and soul of any technological movement.

Like Mathijs Koenraadt, an entrepreneur from Amsterdam, who won the first ever developer bounty. His Magento extension, which produces invoices by reading the Ripple public ledger, allows merchants to easily integrate the protocol as a checkout option.

With a focus in Internet commerce, Koenraadt, who runs Appmerce, was naturally attracted to the rise of cryptocurrencies.

“The number one frustration of online merchants is the high fees paid to payment processors,” he said. “Not just transaction fees, but also costly monthly subscription fees and additional charges for currency conversion, anti-fraud options, and such. For a long time, I’ve been looking for solutions that help merchants reduce such costs. This is where new technology such as Bitcoin and Ripple come in.”

One of the first online shops to benefit is Rita Zachari, a luxury jewelry merchant based in Europe. Setting it up was “very easy,” says founder Alexis Sirkia, who estimates it would take someone about 10 to 15 minutes to install the plug-in. “It’s just like any other checkout option,” he said. “Like Paypal.” What’s more, nothing changes from an accounting standpoint since retailers can, by design, choose what currency to receive no matter what form the customer uses to make payment.

“We’re quite happy,” Sirkia said. “Not getting any fees is like getting cash, and you don’t have to worry about fraud. It’s good for customers, too.”

The result is a technology that brings markets around the world closer together, connecting people in ways that, up till now, were impossible, or, at the very least, problematic and expensive.

“We don’t sell to Africa; we don’t sell to India; we don’t sell to the States; we had to pass on a huge order from Qatar the other day due to the risk of credit card fraud,” Sirkia said. “This opens our doors. Now we can move out of the Old Continent and sell to anyone in any currency.”

The implications for better connected markets around the world is profound, says Koenraadt, who believes the cryptocurrency movement is “going to be big” and is working on a startup called eCash.io that will help merchants adopt innovative payment solutions like Bitcoin and Ripple.

“Give it a few years,” he said. “It’s the first thing like the Internet since the Internet. Even in Europe, where I live, cross-border commerce is quite limited due to shipping and payment hurdles. A German merchant will find it difficult to offer Dutch payment methods to Dutch customers and vice versa.”

“With protocols like Bitcoin and Ripple, we can start breaking down international payment barriers.”