With blockchain, crypto and indeed everything else on this dear planet, we have the good, the bad and the plain old ugly. While the ugly will remain ugly, there seems to be something happening at the “good” and “bad” end of the sector.
What we seem to be looking at, across both blockchain and crypto right now, is something akin to a parting of the mists.
Crypto fans – or evangelists as they prefer to be called – describe any negativity around the sector as FUD. And yes, indeed we have had a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt in the short 10 years since blockchain came into public view as the platform that launched the limelight-hogging bitcoin.
Since then there have been a thousand plus other coins, 100-something crypto exchanges, mining energy usage estimates the size of medium size countries, a fair bit of crime, even more speculation and everything else in between. Even Cryptokitties.
But now we are perhaps seeing something fundamentally different. Before, in the days of ‘old crypto,’ many people bought into the next new coin simply because they were told it was “really, the next big thing.” Now the market has become savvier. Many have been burned a fair few times. A few players have been arrested and many scam operators shut down. And considerably more mainstream players are involved. Have we just entered the age of ‘new crypto?’
Which brings us to Hyperledger, the open source collaborative blockchain initiative that includes 231 organizations in more than 25 countries. It works collaboratively on building newer, faster and more efficient blockchain ledgers and members include Airbus, AMEX, Baidu, IBM, Intel, J.P Morgan, SAP and many more household names. On Wednesday it announced that 14 new organizations had just joined the collaboration and one of those was Ripple.
Ripple is a real-time settlement, exchange and remittance system that aims to enable “secure, instantly and nearly free global financial transactions of any size with no chargebacks.” It is highly regarded by many, from both the tech industry and in the mainstream financial world, but has always remained distinctively altruistic.
While Ripple has its own traded crypto-currency called XRP, its systems are all open source – meaning its IP is effectively sharable and not patented – and it says its networks would carry on working even if the Ripple company did not exist. In 2013 Esquire magazine said the global banks “ought to feel about Ripple the way the record labels felt about Napster.”
As if to prove its ethical well-meaning credentials, on the same day it was announced it would be joining Hyperledger, Ripple announced it was donating US$29 million to allow 28,000 public school teachers across the United States to purchase educational materials.
In a world that has been engulfed in recent months by bitcoin booms and busts, ICO scams and exchange hacks, Ripple joining Hyperledger could prove a big deal.
Crypto-currency is not going to go away anytime soon. And this news sees an important part of it coming into the fold. Good conquering bad? Maybe?
Will we still have the ugly though? Certainly.