Ripple Labs is thrilled to welcome Adrian Hope-Bailie to the team. Adrian joins as Web Standards Officer, part of our ongoing initiative to help define the open standards that will serve as the foundation of the Internet of Value.
Adrian has spent time working with both standards and payments, culminating into a project called OpenPayee, which he was working on before becoming part of the W3C Web Payments Community Group, where he has been a regular contributor.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
After getting married, we moved to Ireland, where I got involved with standards. I worked with a company called dotMobi—who were quite similar to Ripple Labs in many respects. They were trying to drive adoption of the mobile web. That’s when I started working with the W3C, who were trying to standardize device APIs for browsers. I participated in a W3C workshop on their behalf and worked on implementing a W3C designed API. That was when I first got into the standards side of Web technology.
Eventually I came back to South Africa and was very involved in the payments space. For a while, I worked for ACI Worldwide. We worked on card payments, switching, and payment processing, that kind of stuff. After that, I worked for a payment processor as a product developer. I’ve been doing product development and R&D for the last three years.
On the side, I started a Web standardization initiative called OpenPayee. This was before I discovered the work being done at the W3C, which was when I joined the W3C Web Payments Community Group about 1.5 years ago and have been participating in that ever since.
As it turned out, that was how I met [Ripple Labs Software Developer] Evan Schwartz and ended up working for Ripple Labs.
How did you meet Evan?
We sort of found each other. It’s a space I’ve always been interested in and passionate about. I really liked the financial inclusion angle to what open standards can bring, the economic impact of open payment standards on the Web. It was serendipity that brought us together.
Ripple Labs recently joined the Web Payments Community Group, and Evan and I began exchanging ideas over email. At some point I ended up exchanging my resume.
You can ask Evan and [Ripple Labs CTO] Stefan Thomas about it, it was pretty funny. They pretty much described my dream job to me.
What exactly is the role of a Web Standards Officer?
The way I’ve been explaining it to friends and family is that my role is to represent Ripple, to promote global payment standards. That involves representing Ripple Labs on standardizations and opening communication channels with various organizations around the world like the W3C and really driving our vision of the Internet of Value.
We want everybody involved in the W3C work. We want people to buy into the Internet of Value, this idea of exchanging value online as easily as sending an email or sending an instant message. Transacting online or making payments or moving value between people should be simple, accessible, and as low cost as possible. The economic impact is really far reaching.
- See also: A Brief History of Standards
I think it’s difficult to envision at first, but when you start to see what that does to financial inclusion, what it does in terms of the economic impact for countries, where you are freeing up money that’s been locked between clearing and settlement systems—it has the potential to make a profound impact.
Imagine a small business at the end of a supply chain. Goods move up the chain, from the supplier to the wholesaler to the retailer to the end customer, who pays for the final product or service. The faster that value flows back down to the small business owner at the bottom, the bigger the impact on the little guy. That’s something everyone at Ripple Labs feels passionate about making happen.
Ultimately, it’s important to get existing stakeholders at the table together, which is why being constructive instead of purely disruptive is important. We need to get everyone involved, including the incumbents who are the key players as well as the disruptors, like guys involved in cryptocurrencies and people involved in nonbank financial technology. Everyone needs to be part of the conversation.
Then we need to look at why the Internet works so well as a decentralized mechanism for information exchange—and see how we can leverage that for exchanging value.
Right now, there are a bunch of value networks in existence today—card networks, bank networks, correspondent banking networks—and now there’s cryptocurrency ledgers. If we can link all of these together, built on an open web platform, the implications are truly amazing for the global financial system.
How has your first month at Ripple Labs been?
It’s very exciting to be coming to San Francisco. It’s a dream for anybody involved in technology to spend part of their time in the Bay Area, the heart of where it all happens.
I’ve also been a long time follower of the work Ripple Labs has been doing—I really believe in the company’s core values, being open, humble, inclusive, and constructive. There is the sense that the work we are doing is for the common good and it’s not purely profit driven.
It’s great to have a job that feels like it has a greater purpose rather than just a salary at the end of the month.