Reuters reported last Friday that Ripple has just hired Amir Sarhangi to head Ripple’s global payments network, RippleNet. Amir Sarhangi will be leaving Google to take on his new role at Ripple. He has worked at Google since 2015, when he began working for the US tech giant after they acquired Jibe Mobile.
Jibe Mobile was founded by Amir Sarhangi, and was developing technology for wireless carriers that wanted to use rich communication system (RCS) on their network. This hire might signal the beginning of a new phase of growth for Ripple, who has been doing well despite the downturn in crypto prices.
RCS technology is widely believed to be the next step for messaging and could supplant SMS. According to the same Reuters article, tech majors like Apple and Samsung are already working on platforms that would use RCS for their mobile devices. Ripple could be aiming at a mobile payment platform like the one that WeChat offers but on a much wider scale.
Ripple is Well Placed to Grow
Over the last quarter, Ripple saw the amount of XRP sales grow to more than $160 million USD. XRP prices also did well during the quarter, though they are down from the highs they achieved near the beginning of the year. Despite the falling prices, they did see XRP sales double based on the same quarter in 2017 when XRP sales totaled just $73.5 million USD.
A recent podcast from Bezinga featured Cory Johnson, who is the Chief Market Strategist for Ripple. He thinks that their platform could radically change how value is moved around the globe.
To wit, “It is insane in this era of technology when I can send a text message to a friend in Rome with emojis and a GIF attached to it, or I can send an email to a friend in Cape Town, South Africa in three seconds with an Excel spreadsheet attached with all kinds of information. But I can’t send anything of value. I can’t send value or money when anything less than five or 600 basis points of costs and will take me three to five days. That’s crazy, and that doesn’t reflect the best of technology.”
Today fiat currency is just data, but it has to be moved by authorized parties in the central banking network. This creates amazingly inefficient processes, as well as the potential for abuses. Customers have little or no control over what the banks do with their money, and due to the nature of the system, few other options.
A Tricky Transition
Major banks are a big fan of regulations because it cements them into a position that makes competition difficult. That is one of the biggest reasons why there are only a handful of major banks in the world. Cryptocurrencies do offer something of an alternative to fiat currency, but they lack the ability to be used as easily as existing currency.
Ripple has been a leader in creating Know Your Customer (KYC) software for banks, so they are able to operate within the Anti-Money Laundering statutes that exist in most nations. Creating compliance for new transactional technology is a great step in the right direction, but it may not be enough to usher in a new era of bankless transactions.
The fundamental flaw that fiat currency has is its lack of a physical anchor. Over time people have forgotten that traditionally money represented something of value and not just faith in debt. This could be where cryptos ultimately take the upper hand, and systems that allow mobile technology to safely transfer data would be a big part of any system that supplanted the current one.
Ripple is creating a position for itself that may be able to take advantage of whatever comes next in payment technology. As the WeChat Pay platform demonstrates, a fully wireless smartphone-based payments platform is totally possible. The only questions are how the backend will be organized, and which kind of currency will be used to settle transactions.