While the market tumbled for most of 2018 and coin prices fell to 90% losses, Ripple continued to add partners, strengthen its coins economics, and push its xRapid product. As we turn the page into 2019, it’s increasing looking like Ripple is going to be blockchain’s first major victory and disruption — in cross-border payment and remittances.
Just this week, Ripple announced the launch of xRapid use with some of its partners. Euro Exim Bank, a UK-based financial institution, and SendFriend, an international remittance service, will both use XRP tokens through the xRapid product.
To be sure, these aren’t the kind of splashy partnerships that Ripple has signed that haven’t committed to XRP use. We’ve discussed this in past articles, and the risk of investment in XRP tokens, which are not serving as the main collaborative vehicle with the bigger name banks Ripple has announced partnerships with. This risk is not new, it’s existed as long as Ripple has been in the cryptocurrency market and carries the risk of “centralization” that many enthusiasts bemoan about Ripple. Still, no coin has made the progress that Ripple has in the last six months and it’s started to answer many of the challenges presented to it.
Let’s look first at the companies above. Euro Exim Bank is not an enormous UK/EU bank, but it’s certainly growing. Its partnership announcement with Ripple stipulated that it planned to use xRapid — and XRP by proxy — to power payments across 80 countries. Obviously, the bank is seeking to get ahead of its larger competitors in what may become a way for cross-border payments. Ripple’s own announcement said that its service saw “savings of 40-70 percent compared to what they normally pay foreign exchange brokers.”
SendFriend is a similar story. It’s a small startup looking to capitalize on the market opportunity of monetary remittance between the U.S. and other countries, beginning with The Philippines.
As its Crunchbase page says, “SendFriend is a team of Ex-World Bank and Ex-MoneyGram staff passionate about bringing innovation to the masses. Other investors include Techstars, Barclays Bank, Mahindra Finance, the MasterCard Foundation, and Deloitte (services).”
Both of these organizations are said to begin using xRapid in Q1. It’s small for now but it’s not a terrible idea for Ripple to test its marquee product on these smaller beta testers.
Here’s a quick chart of Ripple’s competitive pitch:
Pic source: GigaOM
And the rest of the story here is huge. And that’s the big players in this space, which Ripple has consistently been signing on to different kinds of partnerships throughout 2018.
In December, Ripple announced a partnership with Israel’s’ largest financial services company. Just last week it did the same with Kuwait Finance House, one of the largest banks in the Middle East. And that comes after November’s partnership with CIMB, a Malaysian bank that ranks fifth across the ASEAN network.
That makes more than 150 banks and/or financial institutions that now have some kind of association with Ripple — from certified partner to network user. And this is just the beginning. No other coin, not Bitcoin or Ethereum, have the kind of range across a specific industry as Ripple does here.
On the crypto side, Ripple has inked a deal with Bittrex and Bitso to work on monetary transfers done through crypto exchanges in order to convert fiat into crypto automatically.
As Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse explained, “2019 is the year the wheat will be separated from the chaff. Not many months ago, the media was saying no one will use XRP, which made for good skeptical headlines, Today, you can’t say that as people are starting to use XRapid because it’s better, faster, and cheaper.”
If Ripple can see its xRapid product succeed to the point of disrupting even a minor degree of the remittance market, it’s in for an incredible ride. The market has grown nearly every year since 2000 and Ripple presents one of the biggest innovations within that market. XRP tokens once traded for nearly $4 — at a price near $.33 now. XRP remains an investment with an immensely large upside.