Ripple’s David Schwartz, Chief Technical Officer, and Asheesh Birla, the Senior VP of Product, held an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session earlier today. The AMA tackled questions asked by the XRP community on Twitter.
Birla started off the session by asking David Schwartz about his responsibilities in his new role as the CTO of the company. Schwartz took over this position after Stefan Tomas, the former CTO, left Ripple to work on Coil, which is aimed at monetizing online content. Birla also humorously asked him about being bored working at the company. Schwartz responded:
“I actually worried about that myself a little bit but it’s been the reverse. I’ve been able to scale what I’ve been able to do by working with really talented people and giving them guidance on how I think should things should be done.”
When asked about his priorities over the next year as the CTO, Schwartz spoke about getting volume on RippleNet. RippleNet is the decentralized global network of banks and payment providers using Ripple’s products for cross-border payments. Schwartz said:
“I think one very very important thing is getting volume on RippleNet and getting transaction flow to be where we want it to be. I think having that transaction flow as candidates to be bridged with it with XRP is tremendously important to the company. xRapid actually doing the bridging of payments with XRP, getting those things scaled, getting more partnerships, getting those live transaction volumes that are significant is incredibly important.”
It is well-known that David Schwartz has been in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space for well over 8 years. Even before the world wide web was invented, he worked on distributed computing networks. He was asked about the things that surprise him in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space currently. After speaking for a while on the siloing and interoperability problems faced by cryptocurrencies, he stated:
“There are transformational things like micropayments and distributed apps. We get these visions of machine-to-machine payments and an ecosystem of distributed apps that sell services to each other. Those kinds of things could be as transformational to the way we do things as the internet was.”
When speaking about blockchains and cryptocurrencies in general, the key concept mentioned very often is decentralization. Schwartz offered his opinion on the hotly debated matter when Birla asked him whether “decentralization even matters in the grand scheme of things”. He said:
“I’ve had people tell me like well banks don’t care something’s decentralized they trust each other don’t they well they do not really trust each other…the other problem is that things that are based on trust don’t really scale. You can’t build a thousand relationships based on trust very easily. If you have a system that doesn’t require trust, you can interoperate with everybody just by like firing up your own instance. That’s a tremendous difference in the amount of effort and time and money that it takes.”
Birla then took the stage to speak about xRapid, Ripple’s premier offering. xRapid sources on-demand liquidity by using the XRP token as a bridge currency for cross-border transactions. The pilots have seen “really positive results”, said Birla, speaking about how they were really good learning experiences for both Ripple and their customers.
He went on to speak about working with existing payments service providers, specifically Western Union. He said:
“I think the thing with Western Union is that they’re such a massive company that’s been around for longer than most payment companies out there. For Western Union to take advantage of xRapid they would have to move all their volume over to something like xRapid because they already have fixed costs and optimized liquidity flows. Right now we’ve re-oriented our target customer on upstarts payment providers that’s our sweet spot.”
Recently, Schwartz went on an evangelizing mission for Ripple throughout Europe which was dubbed Tour de Schwartz. On his key takeaways from the various conferences and conversations he had, David said:
“I talked to a lot of people who want to build in the blockchain ecosystem and there are just a lot of people who have these project ideas that are that are interesting and exciting and they’re really working hard on product market fit…another big thing is I talked to a lot of banks and one of the things that I learned from banks that I didn’t really fully appreciate is that they are in fear of being disrupted by new technologies.”
While blockchain is not ‘high on their radar’, banks are under pressure by non-bank payment companies that take away a lot of their business. Schwartz stated that there was no need to tag “doing something different” to sell Ripple instead just to sell them with the tag, “the right path”.
Schwartz had some things to say to the speculator-investors as well when he spoke about the tipping point for XRP use cases. The token is known for its high transaction speeds, beating out Bitcoin and Ethereum by 2 orders of magnitude. David stated:
“I think we’ve got the underlying technology heavily optimized for a payments use case and closely related use cases that involve movement of value…with what Ripple’s doing on the banking side, we’re trying to position XRP as a sort of intermediary asset that can provide liquidity between other assets.I think if those efforts are successful that’s gonna be a reason to use that asset if it’s more liquid and if it’s cheaper to transfer.”
Schwartz also spoke about his own interests in the emerging technologies space, mentioning zero-knowledge proofs as being “tremendously interesting”. On the environment for distributed apps, he said:
“ I think another thing is the distributed app environment this one is one of those things where it could be the next big thing or it could just be all hype I’m not quite sure which but I do envision this future where you might have distributed applications that provide services to other distributed apps.”