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Ripple’s Susan Athey on RippleNet, Bitcoin, Crypto, Blockchain and the Future of Currency

In a new speech, Stanford professor, economist and Ripple board member Susan Athey analyzes how Bitcoin, banks, blockchain and RippleNet work behind the scenes.

According to Athey, the peer-to-peer nature of blockchain and cryptocurrency has the potential to free people and businesses from expensive fees and errors inherent in the current financial system.

“So in terms of the future of currency, in some sense part of the role of the US dollar has been to be a hub currency and a hub and spoke system. But with these new technologies, the smaller countries don’t have to go through that hub. Anybody who flies an airline through a hub knows that you pay a higher price, and it can be slow and the airlines exact monopoly power over you when they have control of a hub. And the smaller banks and countries feel the same way about their relationship with the large US banks, where they have to pay markups and face delays as they go over that system.”

As for Ripple’s suite of cross-border payment solutions, Athey says financial institutions are joining RippleNet to leave the hub mentality behind, and avoid significant markups and delays on the global payments network Swift.

“There’s a big group in the Middle East. There’s also a big group in Asia. A big group of Japanese banks have just joined. So a lot of smaller countries are the early adopters. And they’re setting up their own networks so they don’t have to go through Swift. Because Swift is somewhat archaic and it also goes slowly. Their messaging doesn’t work very well. And then the smaller countries also feel they’re very disadvantaged because everything is going through a few large US institutions…

So they basically create a peer-to-peer network that allows them to move money instantly among themselves without having to go through that. Now, a set of those countries are also using the cryptocurrency. Right now, it’s mostly remittance providers. So there’s a company called Cuallix that’s doing it US to Mexico. And there’s an association of 1,400 US credit unions that’s doing it to help credit units access international markets. And so it’s coming up from the bottom, from the smaller players who aren’t well served.”

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