Ripple launches Xpring VC fund to grow XRP projects on its platform
If you want to make a coin more useful, and therefore more valuable, you give it more things to do.
Ripple has recently thrown itself into the hunt for more diverse applications on its network, putting down $150 million worth of XRP to help fund promising projects that want a home on the Ripple blockchain.
It's just taken another step forward, with the announcement of Xpring, pronounced "spring", to help fund the ones that mean business.
"At Ripple, we want to act as a proverbial spring for the most serious ones – making sure they have the key essentials to grow their businesses and prosper," the company said in its announcement.
Xpring will act as an incubator and supporter for these projects to help these startups "solve their customers' problems in a transformative way."
"I love helping startups leverage new technologies and developments to grow," said Ethan Beard, formerly of Facebook and now Xpring's newly appointed senior vice president. "At Facebook, we saw companies in areas like gaming, music, and news use our platform to become big businesses. Blockchain and digital assets have the ability to solve important problems and XRP – with its speed, scalability and demonstrated real-world use case – is a great tool for startups and entrepreneurs to build businesses around."
This kind of diversity of application might be essential for Ripple in the future. The cryptocurrency space has developed so quickly that a laser focus on cross-border transfers, which is what Ripple was originally all about, is looking much less viable in the long run.
Cryptocurrencies can let anyone make payments anywhere in the world for free, or close enough as to make no difference. Combined with the breaking of the bank monopoly on institutional cross-border payments, and the simple fact that it doesn't really matter which cryptocurrency you're using as long as it has speed, value and liquidity, it's looking like the future will bring a system where free money-moving solutions are offered as a value-add alongside other business solutions, or as a freebie to attract more customers.
The concept of charging fees simply for handling and transferring someone else's money gets more outrageous by the day, and it might not be a sustainable sole focus for any business in the long run.
One of the notable features of Xpring is that it specifically requires use of the XRP coin itself, rather than simply being an open invitation for someone to create their own token to piggyback on the Ripple blockchain, which is actually quite possible and somewhat annoying for Ripple. This might be to help bolster the value of the coin as well as to discourage unwanted network piggyback riders.
The following are some of the entrepreneurs that are already getting support from Xpring:
- Scooter Braun of SB Projects - An entertainment talent manager and entrepreneur who's looking at blockchain content management and monetisation through XRP.
- Stefan Thomas - Inventor of the Interledger Protocol (ILP), creator of BitcoinJS, co-founder of TxtBear, and now the launcher of Coil, a system designed to use XRP and the Interledger Protocol for micropayments.
- Thomas McLeod - A serial entrepreneur, and the co-founder and CEO of Omni, who will soon integrate XRP as a currency into Omni's marketplace.
- Bart and Brad Stephens - Co-founders of Blockchain Capital, and recipients of sizable investment from Ripple to help track down and support other promising projects that might find a home on the Ripple ledger.
Ripple's expansion might come as a relief to coin holders who were worried about a lack of clear applications for the token. A coin needs use cases, and it's starting to look like cross-border payments by themselves won't be enough. The company's proactive approach to obstacles down the road might bode well for its future.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VEN, XLM, BTC and NANO.