Ripple’s $XRP is a Steward for Real Change
The Behavioral Studies Case for $XRP, Why Partially-Centralized Protocols Are Helping
I feel dirty just writing about Ripple. It’s a symptom of how the crypto-community can make you feel — forced to take a binary stance on a topic that is so new to the world that it seems impossible to take a side. Just jump on Twitter these days and you can feel the uncomfortable hum of so-called cryptocurrency experts and decentralization evangelists arguing an opinion as fact, more often diminishing projects than supporting one.
Deconstructing the centralized ‘shitcoin’
Dubbed ‘a centralized shitcoin’ by many in the crypto-community, the popular opinion is rather one-sided in opposition to Ripple’s XRP. However, regardless what any pundit may say, XRP still holds the 3rd largest market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies for a reason. People tend to fixate on its lack of decentralization. They point to its marked decision to pick a trust algorithm that puts major decisions into the hands of its creators, not solely the technology and the holders.
XRP is built on a trust algorithm that hand selects nodes in a rather centralized process, allowing it to control the speed and cost of transactions on their blockchain to the benefit of their end customers — financial institutions. This technological decision is not only a strategic advantage, but a necessity when working with big banks and financial services. These organizations are notably averse to volatility, especially when it impacts their core responsibilities.
It is this centralization and cooperation with big banks that earn XRP the ‘shitcoin’ misnomer. But I believe their decision to centralize the stack will allow XRP to succeed in converting a growing audience of cryptocurrency Early Adopters and Early Majority.
XRP is a mental bridge for the masses, marketed by traditional finance
Ripple’s technology addresses and solves an immediate problem in financial technology today. Their technology is a proven means to transfer funds quickly, efficiently, and securely. As a side effect, its position builds mental parallels between traditional financial institutions and “futuristic” cryptocurrencies — improving sentiment and increasing visibility of a decentralized digital future.
Ripple’s continued expansion into partnerships with central banks and major financial institutions like Moneygram and Western Union works to placate the fears of people that are wary of digital currencies as a whole. Partnerships with central banks further make the case for widespread adoption among banks. Deeper integration presents potentially-marketable service offerings, perhaps even the ability to convert fiat for crypto at physical locations. These partnerships act as a litmus test for the masses, enabling mainstream consumers to approach cryptocurrencies with less hesitation.
Simply put, Cryptocurrency (with a capital ‘C’) stands a better chance to create supporters by providing comfort in something familiar. So, the greater the brand of the financial partner, the stronger the impact on consumers. With steady growth and usage by trusted financial organizations, we may be best served in the long run by accepting Ripple’s ties as a necessary sacrifice for rapid mainstream consumer adoption of digital currencies as a whole.
Unified by a shared goal, a future secured by the blockchain
I’m not ignoring the fact that this sounds like an endorsement for banks to take advantage of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain to their financial advantage. But the truth is, if a bank decided it wanted to build its own blockchain, there’s nothing stopping it from doing so. In fact, I would be surprised if forward-thinking banks like Capital One weren’t already developing one.
If we of the Early Adopter crypto demographic truly believe that blockchain is the evolution of money, then our future will greatly benefit from any thoughtful development in the space. We should have faith in the foundations of decentralization baked into the technology and encourage mass adoption and experimentation.
Adoption is gradual. It doesn’t happen in the revolutionary style most crypto-purists portray. Alas, Twitter will be Twitter and forums will be forums. Crypto communities will continue to exist, endorsing some coins, and diminishing others. But chatter, too, is productive.
To be better stewards of the blockchain revolution, people need to unify behind strong, meaningful blockchain technologies. It brings us leaps and bounds closer to a future where cryptocurrencies and blockchains are embedded in our daily transactions and interactions.
Although I hold a position in XRP (as I do with many other alternative coins), I’m a proponent of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain as a whole. I believe that the growth and success of projects like Ripple create a meaningful and positive impact on the progression of decentralized technologies.
As with any new technology, people are resistive. But, with time, familiarity breeds comfortability. And while it may be difficult to equally appease all parties in the ecosystem, every ounce of work — whether technical, regulatory, financial, or otherwise — helps to move the needle toward mainstream adoption and a more secure financial future backed by trust-less technologies.