In early 2018, we can see that the ‘gold rush’ towards the adoption of blockchain platforms and cryptocurrencies is steadily continuing. With that rush, there is also a lot of scrutiny of the current trends taking place in the world of cryptocurrency. We shall briefly touch on two interesting yet controversial digital crypto-fiats that have become the subjects of much debate.
Ripple is a payment network protocol and global currency exchange that the financial world has taken notice of. Ripple Labs is the
organisation behind the XRP digital asset, which was launched in 2012.
The centralised network is primarily targeted towards banks and payment providers, as it allows them to conduct bank to bank transactions with their banking partners on the same blockchain. The system is designed to bypass the traditional bank transfer methods such as the SWIFT system, thus saving on transaction costs and speed of transactions.
The transactions conducted using Ripple are supposedly close to real-time and the network itself is said to be able to handle up to 1,500 transactions per second. However, Ripple has become quite controversial for several reasons.
XRP was 100% mined, with 100 billion of the digital tokens created. Out of the 100 billion XRP, the founders of Ripple Labs
company own approximately 60% of it; which gives them a large amount of control. Thus XRP could easily be subject to manipulation.
Another controversial subject has been that of Tether, which can be described as a mix between a cryptocurrency and a digital fiat coin as its value is pegged to that of fiat currencies. It is mainly pegged to the US Dollar, in the form of USD₮ . Tether tokens are also pegged on the Euro, as EUR₮.
The coin was developed in 2015, by Tether Limited as a way to move fiat currencies across cryptocurrency exchanges without converting cryptocurrencies into USD first. In theory, the price of USD₮ is meant to maintain the same level of stability as the USD. This means, one tether is meant to be backed up by $1, held in reserve.
Tether’s system is meant to promote cheaper and faster transactions, which are completed within minutes. In reality however, buyers of Tether have to bear the risk of fiat currency fluctuations, which reduces the stability of this digital fiat currency. There have also been some concerns raised about whether the USD₮ is truly backed up by US Dollar reserves.
In November 2017, there were public claims that millions of tethers wereprinted, without being backed up by USD from the company’s reserves. It is said by some, that this in turn drove up the prices of Bitcoin.Tether Limited itself is said to be shrouded in mystery, as there is not much information about the owners of the company, locations or who their banking customers are.
The tether website also makes the following statement, “Tethers are not money and are not monetary instruments. They are also not stored value or currency. There is no contractual right or other right or legal claim against us to redeem or exchange your Tethers for money. We do not guarantee any right of redemption or exchange of Tethers by us for money.” That would understandably make any potential investor very nervous. It is also no surprise that in late January 2018, Tether came under investigation, led by the U.S Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
So far, these digital assets and the companies behind them have not solved the issues of volatility, complete trust and transparency in the disruptive blockchain world. What we need to do is introduce a social, ethical and transparent cryptocurrency, that can be trusted. What features do you think should go towards creating an ethical and fair cryptocurrency?
Disclaimer: This feature article is purely based on personal opinion and should not be taken as expert analysis of cryptocurrency.
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Crypto-fiats- Cryptocurrency fiat money
EUR₮- Euro Tether
SWIFT- Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication
US- United States
USD- United States Dollar
USD₮- United States Dollar Tether
XRP- Ripple digital asset