2019 was “an incredible” year for Ripple, says CEO Brad Garlinghouse in an interview with Julia Chatterley of CNN. The year he said saw the shift from speculation that has “driven the crypto market” to a utility like solving problems.
— Julia Chatterley (@jchatterleyCNN) February 17, 2020
In 2020, they are building the momentum which brings in more customers and more liquidity. This year will be pivotal because of the regulatory clarity which Garlinghouse said will help “catapult the whole industry.”
He talked about how in Davos during the World Economic Forum, he was meeting with regulators and banks and explained to them how crypto but specifically XRP can be used to solve a real problem without circumventing regulation or government.
Ripple is also in discussion with the regulators over the nature of XRP. He didn't provide any details but said they'll continue to engage with them and “had very constructive conversations with regulators here in the United States.”
Shifting the Focus to On-Demand Liquidity
Ripple’s focus is certainly on its On-Demand Liquidity Solution which Garlinghouse said processed $54 million using XRP from the US to Mexico in a week. This has been 7.5% of all US-Mexico flows, which has been a substantial increase from about 3% in December.
“Liquidity begets liquidity” and the more activity you see, the more follows. The largest digital asset exchange of Mexico, Bitso is using XRP through which “instead of being dependent upon the speculative trading of crypto,” it represents institutional flows.
And these $54 million flowing through Bitso is a big deal for their business which Ripple CEO said, “brings other players.”
However, it just one corridor. There is already “a lot of demand” and Ripple is “prioritizing new corridors,” so they’ll be expanding in other corridors while seeing the liquidity grow naturally.
But the regulatory clarity is of importance here. And that’s the reason India isn’t high on their list, he said. This is what Garlinghouse also shared at the Davos with the regulators that they are not circumventing KYC, customer check, or anti-money laundering checks which gets them “very comfortable very quickly.” Garlinghouse added,
“I think a lot of countries around the world see that this is a technical wave, this is a major step and they want to invest in it. They want to see companies continue to invest and I think that's good for the economy.”
XRP or the Fed Coin?
The regulatory clarity has also been because of the central banks taking a step towards creating their own digital currencies.
This according to Garlinghouse is “healthy and constructive for the entire crypto community.” It makes sense because even at the Fed window, it isn’t giving a crate of dollars rather a digitized centralized ledger entry, so there isn’t any difference.
However, in most of Europe and the US, for the central bank to go directly to the customers and circumvent commercial banks “doesn't make a lot of sense,” he explained.
So, could it mean Ripple will substitute XRP for a Fed coin one day? Garlinghouse is open to that but says there still be a cross-border settlement dynamic and it doesn't “change the need for a cross-border neutral like an XRP which has been extremely efficient.”
This means, there won't be “one winner in the crypto space,” rather “a lot of different participants solving different segments of problems.”
“There's going to be other digital assets that increasingly have utility for customers and therefore drive velocity” and demand.
Is an IPO Really Coming?
Ripple is one of the most valued companies in the crypto space at $10 billion valuation but given that Garlinghouse talked about an IPO earlier this year, what could be the reason with Ripple already having a “very strong balance sheet,. Garlinghouse did try to deflect with,
“I don't think I've said go public I think what I said was 2020 will likely have crypto kind of blockchain IPOs (…) I don't think ripple will be the first but we certainly don't to be the last so I kind of kept it open.”
However, he shared that IPO would mean more flexibility for the company which would give them the “strength to do new things,” and grow business like they did last year by adding 100 new employees while other companies in the space had layoffs.
The Shift from Amazon Books to Amazon
Gallinghouse also shared Ripple’s long term goal of becoming Amazon as he explained, “in the earliest days of Amazon it's called the Amazon books. As a bookseller it competed with Barnes & Noble and with the hoarders.”
Ripple he said is viewed today as a cross-border payments company but sees themselves as a blockchain infrastructure company. Cross-border payments he said are just the first vertical and “we want to make sure we're winning in cross-border payments before we do another vertical.”
In the next five years, Ripple will “continue to grow and take market share” and “we're not just Amazon books but we are Amazon,” said Garlinghouse.