In a recent interview, Ripple’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), David Schwartz, discussed the company’s plans to expand beyond its current focus on payments into a wider range of use cases. This pivot comes against the backdrop of the cryptocurrency industry’s evolving landscape and Ripple’s ongoing efforts to innovate within it.
Ripple Is Still Committed To Payments
Schwartz expressed his bewilderment over the underutilization of digital assets in the payment sector. “One of the things that perplexes me the most about this space is that people are not using digital assets for payments, even though they work for payments better than they ever have,” he stated.
He pointed out the inefficiencies of major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, but also noted that even more efficient blockchains haven’t achieved significant traction in the realm of payments. Ripple, since 2015, has been dedicated to promoting the use of digital assets in payments, yet the anticipated widespread adoption remains elusive.
“It’s still baffling to me that we haven’t been more successful,” Schwartz added, highlighting his surprise at the slow rate of adoption for cryptocurrencies in remittances and other payment forms. Meanwhile, he also emphasized that Ripple won’t ever working on the payment use case:
We’re big believers in payments. We’re not going to stop. We’re not going to stop doing payments. That’s not going to happen. However, again, and I think these other use cases are extremely important.
Addressing the issue of XRP’s price affecting its utility in payments, Schwartz clarified, “It doesn’t really matter. Whether it’s cheap or expensive, if I want to pay you $100 worth of XRP, I can get $100 worth of XRP for $100, I can sell it, I can send it to you.” He emphasized the robust liquidity of XRP, which facilitates smooth transactions irrespective of its market price.
When questioned about the status of PolySign, a venture Ripple has invested in, Schwartz cautiously responded, “I really wish I could [talk about it], but unfortunately, I’m going to get in trouble if I say anything.” He reflected on a past incident where his comments led to unfounded speculation about Ripple’s further involvement with PolySign, underscoring the sensitive nature of such disclosures.
Potential New Use Cases
Looking to the future, Schwartz detailed Ripple’s plans for diversification. “We’re very interested in real-world asset tokenization,” he mentioned, signaling a significant shift in Ripple’s focus. The company is keen on developing a multi-chain ecosystem, which includes smart contract capabilities and enhanced throughput.
Ripple is currently working on the introduction of an EVM-compatible chain to bridge the current gap in their ecosystem, especially for smart contracts. “Hiring people who know EVM is very easy,” Schwartz noted, pointing out the practical benefits of aligning with industry standards:
I think the next big bet for us is probably a sort of multi-chain ecosystem, starting with the EVM compatible chain, which will be nice. Because currently, if you were in the XRP ecosystem, we basically just don’t have a smart contract solution. And so having one that’s industry standard will make it easier, like you want to hire people to build.
Reflecting on Ripple’s evolution, Schwartz observed, “We’re a lot bigger now than we were in 2015. We have a lot more resources. We have a lot more employees. We have a lot more technology.”
This growth enables Ripple to simultaneously pursue multiple initiatives. While continuing its commitment to payments, the company is poised to delve into Metaverse and NFTs. “ I think you will see us looking into other use cases, Metaverse NFT use cases,” Schwartz stated and added that he is not “sold on” VR use cases yet, but “AI, I think that that’s definitely going to be something. But the question is, what? And I don’t think we know what yet.”
He candidly addressed the challenge of timing in these ventures, sharing Ripple’s experiences with NFTs and CBDCs as learning points for future endeavors. “I think with NFTs, Ripple decided that we cared about NFTs a little bit too late. And I think maybe with CBDCs, we may have decided a little bit too early,” he remarked.
At press time, XRP traded at $0.50843.
Featured image from YouTube / CB Insights, chart from TradingView.com