Ripple (XRP) rose to meteoric heights in December 2017, reaching what some are calling ‘Big Mac’ parity, only to pull back over 80% in January. The market cap now stands US$105.6 billion, with US$2.65 billion in trading volume over the last 24 hours.
XRP the token is a separate entity from other companies with the same namesake, including the banking network RippleNet (originally Ripple Labs), the social network Ripple Works, the advertising company Ripple Media, and the plant-based milk company Ripple Foods.
While XRP aims to disrupt the remittance and cross-border payment industry generally, the main goal of RippleNet is to take on SWIFT, a telecom cooperative created over 40 years ago that is currently used to send secure financial messages between banks. These messages exclude clearing or settlement.
Ripple recently celebrated its fifth birthday, having been created in 2012, and now claims over 100 financial and banking partnerships around the world, most recently with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority. However, a Bloomberg article on January 25th suggested banks “have no interest in using XRP.”
The network has an existing supply of ~100 billion, 55 billion of which was placed in escrow in December 2017. By securing the lion’s share of XRP in escrow, anyone can now mathematically verify the maximum supply that can enter the market, and eliminates any concern that Ripple could flood the market. Taking this into account, the circulating supply stands around ~US$46.48 billion.
According to recent Bitmex research, 7 billion XRP was held by Ripple as of January 31st, 39 billion XRP has been distributed, and 55 billion XRP remains in escrow. Distribution and internal holdings have fluctuated over time with supply estimates based on available data from 2013-2015 unable to reconcile “how many XRP were sold, at what price, or how many were given away” according to the research team.
However, Ripple states that market participants purchased US$20.1 million in Q4 2017. These participants tend to be institutional buyers, and their purchases typically include restrictions that mitigate the risk of market instability due to potential subsequent large sales. Additionally, the company sold US$71.5 million worth of XRP programmatically, as a small percentage of overall exchange volume.
XRP transactions per day have steadily increased in an upward trend since 2014. The network, RippleNet, is composed of; xCurrent, which processes global payments for customers; xRapid, to source on-demand liquidity; and xVia, to plug into RippleNet to send payments.
It was recently announced that xCurrent will be used Chinese ecommerce company LianLian international. Non-bank financial services institution, Cuallix, recently became the first worldwide institution to use xRapid, reducing the cost of sending cross-border payments from the U.S. to Mexico. Moneygram, a remittance service, is also piloting a xRapid program.
At US$0.0067 currently, XRP has the cheapest average transaction cost among other high cap coins (not shown). XRP, Ethereum Classic, and Dogecoin have had a similar fee market over the past few months with Zcash consistently cheaper than all others. For the most part, transaction fees denominated in USD rise and fall in line with the cost of the coin itself.
The network value to estimated on-chain daily transaction (NVT) ratio can be used to assess the network’s relative utility over time, although NVT is difficult to compare between coins which use different transactions types. The XRP NVT ratio has been trending lower since July 2015 suggesting transactional use has increased since that time, reaching a low of 75 in January.
Exchange traded volume is largely led by Korea (KRW) with a >5% premium on Bithumb, an exchange with fee-free trading which inherently inflates reported volume data. XRP has been the most popular market added to Bithumb since being added in May 2017. XRP is not nearly as widely traded in JPY or CNY, largely due to trading pair availability and continues to be added to exchanges around the world, most recently Zebpay in India.
While traders normally use charts from the highest volume exchange, the more broad XRP/Tether (USDT) market has the most available data. These charts show that the explosive gains from late December have been erased.
Indicators like Ichimoku Cloud, Exponential Moving Average (EMA), and chart patterns can be used to determine if the trend remains bullish. Details of the indicators and methods used can be found here.
XRP had been in a bullish triangle consolidation pattern throughout 2017, while holding above the 100EMA on the two-day chart and the 200EMA on the daily chart. After the initial breakout, price found resistance at the yearly R1 pivot and 7.618 fib extension.
A bearish double top pattern has begun to form on high timeframes. However, due to the sharp inverted V structure, an Adam-Eve or Adam-Adam is possible. Horizontal support for the pattern is ~US$0.70. Despite the pattern being bearish, this would suggest a gain well North of US$2.50.
The Ichimoku Cloud metrics on the daily chart are all bearish, with a potential bearish Tenkan bounce at the current price level. However, the distance between the Kijun (mean) and Tenkan suggest that XRP is heavily oversold.
If price cannot break the Tenkan, bearish continuation is strongly indicated. A long, flat Kumo at US$1.73 is a magnet for price so long as price does not make a lower low. Should bullish momentum exist, a push to that zone, near the Kumo twist on February 26th, is likely.
Price has also held above the 200EMA, just as it did during a multi month-long period triangle consolidation pattern. Price will likely continue consolidating between the 50EMA and the 200EMA until either level is broken, with higher volume.
The Ichimoku Cloud on the four hour chart also is decidedly bearish, but price has broken the Cloud for the first time since dropping below the Cloud in January. This is the earliest indication of a trend reversal. A long entry signal would follow a bullish Kumo breakout and bullish Kumo twist, and/or a bullish 50/200EMA cross.
Lastly, the trading in the bitcoin (BTC) market indicates that XRP has bounced off a key horizontal level and broken the 50EMA after completing a bullish reversal chart pattern, the falling wedge. XRP fell from this level after forming a bearish descending triangle in May. The measured move and 1.618 fib extension yield a projected target zone of 20,000-25,000 Satoshis.
XRP is a controversial cryptocurrency for several reasons. First, the supply and consensus mechanism suggests that XRP is neither distributed nor decentralized. While nothing is inherently wrong with this, it can be misleading to newcomers who do not understand the differences and nuances between blockchain projects.
Second, major news outlets have reported banks having no interest in actually using XRP, yet RippleNet continues to announce partnerships with multiple banks and companies around the world, seemingly fulfilling their mission to bring broader adoption of the XRP network across the globe – beyond just speculation.
Technicals suggest a continued bull trend, after a return to the mean from being heavily overbought. A USD value of $2.50 and a BTC value of 20k sats is likely within the next few weeks, should the trend continue with its current momentum.
After a Tumultuous 2018 for Crypto and the Birth of Stablecoins, Here is what to Expect in 2019
2018 was the year of the bear run and the stablecoin. So what does 2019 hold for the crypto world? While it is impossible to tell what exactly will happen in 2019, one can make a good guess. Here are the five likely scenarios that will play out in 2019 for crypto:
Tether Will Lose Traction
For years, there have been issues raised about how legit Tether is. Despite this, it has remained a popular stablecoin in the crypto world.
However, rival stablecoins such as Coinbase, Circle, and Gemini could offer a challenge. This will erode the monopoly that it has enjoyed in the past. Even if Tether does not shutter as Basis did at the end of 2018, it will most likely not be as dominant.
Facebook Will Mint The WhatsApp Crypto
Facebook has been interested in creating a payments platform for years. The effort started in 2014 when it poached David Marcus of PayPal.
Marcus became the head of messaging products at the company. However, he was picked to head the company’s blockchain project in 2018, which is still shrouded in mystery. Recent reports indicate that he might launch a WhatsApp-based remittance service in India. After a rough period in 2018, the company could use a win in 2019.
The Regulators Will Go After Big Fish
The SEC will take on the major players in crypto in 2019. For instance, it might decide that XRP is unregistered security.
If that happens, Ripple could be hit with huge fines. It might also decide to shut down an exchange for not adhering to anti-money laundering laws. Besides that, celebrities who have used their star power to pump ICs might be in trouble.
The Bitcoin ETF Gets Approved
As the crypto world evolves, it could help the stage for a BTC traded fund also called an ETF. After the bubble burst, investors that are more reasonable are joining the crypto world.
Right now, a firm called Bakkt, created by those behind the NYSE wants to launch a BTC futures market. This could help to improve liquidity in the crypto world. Thus far, it is known that an SEC commission is seeking to have the BTC ETF approved. Before that, a VanEck might or might not be approved next month. It is worth noting how that works out.
The Bear Run Persists
The crypto world has been in a bear run since they reached a high in 2017. Right now, various factors such as volatility in the equity market, a possible economic recession, and global geopolitics might reduce appetite for crypto assets for now.
However, there is a bit of disagreement on this. Some experts believe that prices might bounce back soon. Others believe that crypto prices have not hit their low yet.
There is a lot of agreement and disagreement over whether these predictions will happen. However, there is quite good evidence to support them if you look at the crypto world right now. It is also worth noting that this is a young industry and anything is possible.
Dan Hedl: Satoshi’s Bitcoin Vision was a Viable Banking Alternative, not a New Visa for Payments
The former Blockchain executive and a cryptocurrency veteran, Dan Hedl, has said that Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of bitcoin, wanted bitcoin to be an “alternative to banks”, and not a “new visa.”
In a series of tweets on January 14, Hedl took up an argument with other cryptocurrencyenthusiasts who believe that the idea of Bitcoin was to be a currency for payments.
1/ Satoshi’s Vision™ is a silly endeavor, as it doesn’t matter what it was, we are where we are now. However, those pushing the “Bitcoin was first made for payments” narrative insist on cherry-picking sentences from the white paper and forum posts to champion their perspective.
— Dan Hedl (@danheld) January 14, 2019
He argued that those who have this mere belief haven’t quite understood bitcoin’s full implications from Satoshi’s vision, which is clearly shown in Bitcoin Whitepaper. In his main tweet, he said that:
“Satoshi’s Vision™ is a silly endeavor, as it doesn’t matter what it was, we are where we are now. However, those pushing the “Bitcoin was first made for payments” narrative insist on cherry-picking sentences from the white paper and forum posts to champion their perspective.”
World Needed An Alternative Bank, Not Another Visa
In 2008 when bitcoin whitepaper was published, it happened that there was a financial crisis the same year. During that time, many had lost their trust in Banks, so it was perfect timing for bitcoin to be popularized. According to Hedl, Nakamoto has cleverly planted a seed at the right timing.
Hedl also noted that:
“How do we determine Satoshi’s intention? We need to look at his ideology, description of functionality/architecture, timing, and audience. Let’s start with how Satoshi describes the problem Bitcoin solves. In his first public comms after the whitepaper, in the first paragraph: ‘The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust.’”
Hedl believes that bitcoin is largely a store of value and not an alternative to payment networks such as MasterCard and Visa.
In a tweet, Hedl noted that:
“The world didn’t need a new VISA; they needed an alternative to banks.”
When it comes to capacity, though, bitcoin will outdo payment processing networks like MasterCard and Visa, especially through the Lightning Network, which allow transactions to be processed off-chain.
Ford and LG to Use IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain to Track Supply Chains to End Child Labor
IBM will be working in order to improve the supply chain in the metals industry using the Hyperledger Fabric as a blockchain platform. The intention is to track cobalt that is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo until it reaches a car maker plant. Another project will also be tracking metals from Mexico until they reach the Ford Motor Company plant.
The first project will start with a 1.5 ton of cobalt that will be mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After it, it will be transported to China, where it will be refined. In Korea, it will be used to create a battery and it will be used in the United States as a battery for an electric car. However, everything will be tracked using IBM’s blockchain.
With this pilot, each company will be checking that the material has been treated with the standards followed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The information was shared by IBM’s general manager for global industrial products, Manish Chawla.
On the matter, Chawla commented:
“Blockchain is the most effective technology to provide real-time access to all the due diligence processes, provide visibility to the supply chain from the miners to the market. Our role in IBM is that we are bringing people together for this project and developing the platform.”
Although the intention is to improve the supply chain and have better control over the products handled there is still going to be needed human intervention. There will be inspectors controlling that the mines work properly and following international standards.
Currently, if there are workers that are working in bad conditions, the employee will be recording this on the system and the RCS Global headquarters will be alerted. In this way, they can inform the mine that the batch that they will deliver does not meet the international guidelines.
If everything goes as expected, the employee will just print a code bar that allows other companies and parties in the supply chain to confirm that this batch was mined according to international regulations.
Using blockchain technology the process will be easier. The initial monitoring will take place at the mining site. RCS employees will not have to be there full-time. Instead, everything will be auditing information provided by the management of the mine. Barcode tags will be used for assets on the blockchain and audits and other reports will be stored using an IBM server.
Each of the participants will be working as validators having their own nodes. As more companies join this pilot and program, the will have the possibility to have their node supported by IBM.
At the same time, using Hyperledger technology, customers will be able to protect their information. Companies will be able to share the information they have with third-party partners such as NGOs. In the future, and if the project succeeds, other companies could join such as automakers or electronics manufacturers.
IBM is also working with other companies such as the Canadian startup called MIneHUb Technologies, Goldcorp, Wheaton Precios Metals and many others, including ING Bank.
Back in 2018, IBM and other mining companies and refiners started to work together to leverage blockchain technology and improve the mining industry in different countries in Africa.