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Historical rate chart of XRP and AUD
XRP has been on a bull run as Google-backed Ripple makes its mark on the global financial system.
The bull run of this cryptocurrency in 2017 may be set to continue its climb upwards. However, buyers should consider whether there's a catch. XRP’s climb over the long term may only continue if XRP becomes widely used to settle international transactions.
XRP is the cryptocurrency released by the company known as Ripple. In 2012 Ripple, which was then known as OpenCoin, was founded under the leadership of Chris Larsen. Since then, Ripple has aggressively developed its engineering teams which has caused Ripple to be seen as many as a force for transformation in international finance. With dozens of top tier banks and central banks either using Ripple’s technology or Ripple derived technology, Ripple’s influence – and XRP’s for that matter – appears to be growing fast.
It has to grow if XRP is to fulfill its goal of becoming the world’s reserve currency to settle international trade.
Since the creation of XRP in October of 2013, its price has mostly stayed below US$0.01, meaning that in terms of price, this cryptocurrency is quite stable.
Only since May 2017 has XRP experienced volatility, like other cryptocurrencies. In May, XRP’s price topped out at around US$0.42 and over the next several months hovered between US$0.15 and US$0.30. Starting on 10 December XRP achieved new highs, reaching US$1.50 on 28 December 2017.
Market rate for common transfer amounts XRP to AUD
|Ripple (XRP)||Australian dollars (AUD)|
Do we know how much XRP will be worth in the future?
To get a clearer picture of XRP’s future price movements, it's important to understand the difference between Ripple and XRP. This is important because to understand XRP’s value it's helpful to know how Ripple uses XRP.
To start, Ripple and XRP are two different things. This means that it's not quite correct to say that XRP is a Google-backed currency. It's better to say that Ripple is a Google-backed tech company developing blockchain technologies.
The blockchain technologies being developed by Ripple aim to change the way international business transactions are made. One effect of this technology might be to allow huge sums of money to be transferred between any bank anywhere on earth ready for use in seconds. This would be a noteworthy gain in efficiency from the normal transfer time of between three and five days.
Up until recently, to physically fly $10,000 across the world by plane has taken less time than transferring it electronically. This seems to be changing as Ripple’s technology has successfully completed testing with some major institutional banks over recent years – the two biggest being the United States Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.
From there, widespread use of Ripple’s technology is expected to trickle down and spread fast. This can be seen in Japan with three Japanese credit card companies adding this technology to their existing cross-border payments systems.
How does XRP fit into this picture? This is where understanding XRP’s future becomes complex.
Can we expect huge price gains ahead for XRP?
Any bank that processes cross-border payments needs to have enough of the currency of the other country to make sure the payment goes through. If the bank does not have enough, the trade cannot be done and business is harmed as a result.
For example, with Ripple’s technology a transaction between Commbank and a Japanese bank should go through in a matter of seconds. But just say Commbank doesn't have enough Japanese yen for the payment to be made. This is where XRP comes in. In the case that Commbank does not have enough Japanese yen, the bank can draw on a pool of money to ensure the transaction is completed.
That pool of money is XRP. It's one of Ripple's inventions on the blockchain called an escrow facility. It provides a service sort of like an overdraft account. The significance is that Ripple wants to be best placed to do this on a global scale.
Already, dozens of the biggest banks and central banks report that they are either using the Ripple network or are in the process of testing it. Potentially, a majority of the biggest banks on the planet could soon be using XRP to make a lot of international payments. For the price of XRP this could mean strong, stable increases and over a long-term period.
To what extent will the world of international business use XRP?
As of 2017, more than 80% of international transactions are made in US dollars, which makes USD the world’s reserve currency. This can be seen across 100% of the biggest 100 banks and all central banks. It means that as more financial institutions increase their use of XRP in cross-border payments, it brings more competition on the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
However, it's hard to imagine a situation where the world’s biggest banks and central banks would use XRP over the US dollar. Based on this, it seems more likely that the technology being developed by Ripple will become widely used, meaning that it's unclear to what extent XRP will be used in cross-border payments.
It should be remembered that the testing phase of Ripple’s blockchain technologies needs an easily-created money supply much like the 100 billion units of XRP. The technology being tested seems to adapt easily to using US dollars or any other currency with large amounts of liquidity.
All this makes looking at XRP’s future price movements very uncertain. What can be confidently said is that in 2017 the total market capitalisation of all cryptocurrencies went from US$20 billion to US$600 billion. Going forward, there is likely to be a similar increase. This will mean that the price of XRP might also rise strongly as more money pours into the market.
Looking at the way XRP is structured, even that is uncertain. There are 100 billion units of XRP. Of that 100 billion, 55% is controlled by Ripple and ready to be used as a pool of money, otherwise known as an escrow facility. It's estimated that 18 billion units of XRP have been released to the market for trading on exchanges and between banks already trading on the Ripple network.
These numbers suggest that Ripple has almost total control over the price of XRP. The only danger to that control may be from a breach in security. However, XRP’s blockchain is reputed to be very secure because Ripple is known to closely manage the support network that helps the blockchain function. This would probably make it very difficult for any market participant to have an unfair influence on XRP’s price.
Because XRP is still being used in the testing phase of Ripple’s blockchain technology, it's likely safe to assume that the price will be kept relatively stable throughout 2018.
However, potential buyers should continue to consult well researched knowledge of Ripple’s Google-backed business and how XRP is used, to decide whether trading XRP could be a potentially fruitful exercise.
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