I’m a big fan of craft beers, and beer from Belgium.
I’m a easy mark for their advertising – I visualize Trappist monks wearing brown robes, painstakingly brewing their brands in large wooden barrels in a old brick building in the mountains. I know very well that’s not how they probably do it, but I think the beer tastes better if I picture them in their cloistered monastery!
And now we get to the payment portion of that transaction. In this fictional scenario, I’ve hauled my craft beer up to the worn counter of the municipal liquor store; the cashier asks for payment.
I choose to pay… with XRP!
I swipe my phone (iPhone or Android, take your pick) over the reader, and I send the XRP to the store, in the denomination that they prefer; it will automatically convert to USD or CAD, (or whatever) and be deposited within their account. Perhaps they take Bitcoin. It could convert my XRP into that crypto-currency as well!
We Need XRP to Invade Retail
Yes, I know about the use case for cross-border payments. I’m well aware that Ripple – the company – is targeting the banks and financial institutions. This is not a blog that asks them to do anything different; in fact, their focus should remain squarely on the banks that do cross-border transfers of value. We are all well-versed with the fact that cross-border payments will drive the utility of XRP into the billions or trillions almost immediately. 1
Ripple (the company) is fine continuing on their present course!
I don’t want Ripple to be distracted from doing what they do best – integrating with banks and financial institutions! What I’m talking about is a call to arms for the rest of us – for those of us that are fans of XRP, and who have invested in the crypto-currency. We now have these stacks of XRP that we’re saving or accumulating, and we are patiently waiting for some of the higher-frequency use cases to make their volume felt on the XRP Ledger.
Wouldn’t it be nice in the meantime to build some end-user applications where we can utilize our XRP right now?
A small number have already been created, and they are being used for specific needs by XRP investors. These are listed in xrpchat at: XRPChat Resources
In addition, there are some community projects in the works – we’ve heard rumors of a new enterprise wallet for end-users. 2 We’ve heard about a new distributed trade platform that has the potential to replace traditional exchanges. And we know that a community member has volunteered to code a smart contracts platform that will integrate with the XRP Ledger and support funding sources from various other ledgers. 3
But very rarely do I encounter retail businesses that will accept XRP as part of their payment process. And I don’t yet have a payments application available on my phone where I can send some XRP to fund payments in other currencies. Ripple has emphasized that they are “building the plumbing” for these types of applications 4, and we know that this consumer software is in the works – most likely in a very big way, if we are to judge from Ripple’s history. (I’m guessing nothing less than a Google or Apple or Alipay wallet would get their personal attention!)
But I wouldn’t mind it if there were a bunch of one-off applications for end-users.
- Wouldn’t it be nice to have a social media site that used XRP for tipping? Micropayments like this are actually one of the ideal use cases for XRP! 5
- How about a platform for trading virtual items that utilizes XRP as a store of value?
- A distributed marketplace with no central authority?
- An application for trading XRP Ledger tokens?
- How about locking away XRP in escrow for when my child reaches college age? 6
The demand for developers that understand blockchain and Ripple technology is growing quickly, and is likely to siphon off a lot of the developers who would otherwise engage in these independent end-user oriented applications. That’s a good thing on one hand – it means Ripple tech is catching on in a big way – but it also means that independent projects will need to be developed by more well-funded sources, such as an ICO (Initial Coin Offering).
Nobody is Stopping Us
We can build these applications ourselves – many crypto-currency investors are also developers. The technology is available for each of us to build on, and Ripple has taken pains to make their API documentation much more robust and easy to access for developers. We can build applications that can interact with the XRP Ledger and utilize its functions.
Retail Will Add Liquidity
Currently, liquidity for XRP is supplied by very active trading in the crypto-currency markets. You can buy XRP on a lot of exchanges at present; Eleven of these are listed on Ripple’s website. 9
If we look at the history of Bitcoin, however, liquidity wasn’t just provided by active traders; it was also driven by demand. Demand for the crypto-currency is driven by end-user applications and sites where you can actually utilize your crypto-currency to purchase items – whether virtual or tangible.
These are market drivers, and they serve to add liquidity into the market by increasing demand and hence more trading of the underlying token.
Converts Can Be Persuaded by Retail
Yes, banking and financial institution customers are the ones that Ripple is targeting. But let’s face it; a lot of free publicity has been received by Bitcoin based on the retail uses of it’s crypto-currency; XRP can benefit from the lessons of history and create its own, reputable end-user applications that can drive demand in the retail sector; this might result in free publicity for XRP – and for Ripple!
Just imagine; a banking executive that finds out her husband is using a payment applications that “runs on XRP” on his phone! Evidence of real technology usage is sometimes even more powerful than a presentation at an industry conference.
The XRP Community Is Massive
The XRPChat forum is a traditional place for many die-hard XRP fans to gather. I am one of those original forum members that have been a huge fan of what Ripple technology can do for payments, and let me tell you something shocking.
The active membership exhibited steady growth through 2017, but then something incredible started happening to the fan base; it tripled in size. The membership on XRPChat has grown by 200% since April of this year. 10
It’s that kind of fan base that has the potential to create the next generation of end-user applications that will drive XRP adoption into whole new retail markets.
Ripple isn’t going to stop us; they will be cheer-leading our efforts and providing the documentation that developers will need to build the next generation of end-user applications! 11