During an earnings call for Q1 2020, MoneyGram chairman and chief executive, Alexander Holmes, revealed that it was a “quiet quarter” regarding the firm’s partnership with blockchain payments company Ripple (XRP). Ripple first announced its “strategic partnership” with the Nasdaq-listed money transfer company during June 2019. The partnership’s initial term was set at two years, with Ripple providing a capital commitment of up to $50 million over 24 months in exchange equity. The announcement was also slated to see Ripple act as MoneyGram’s “key partner for cross-border payment and foreign exchange settlement using digital assets.”
Despite Ripple drumming up high expectations for the partnership, MoneyGram’s CEO stated that Q1 2020 was “quiet” in terms of Ripple’s services. “I would say it was a little bit of a relatively quiet quarter, in the sense of really pushing anything particularly new into the market or expanding the service.” “We did a lot of that in the back half of last year, and really got going on a number of new corridors for that service,” Holmes noted.
Despite expressing happiness with the deal thus far, Holmes’ comments indicate that Ripple is still yet to solidify its services or target market:
“We continue to flex with them as they continue to expand the service and move some things around, and really figure out what they want, the product to look and feel like, and how they want to take that to various markets. So I think it’ll change over time. I think the results of what we’re doing will vary by quarter and by month.”
“But, yes, it’s been a good partnership, and definitely pleased with what we’ve been doing,” he added.
Looking forward, Holmes expects that the partnership will generate revenues from experiments into “new services and new corridors.“ Holmes’ comments come shortly after Robert Lisv, the CEO of major U.S.-Latin American remittance provider and Ripple partner, Intermex, revealed that the firms’ partnership will not see Ripple’s technology utilized in its core markets.
“So, you won’t really see us leveraging Ripple in our core markets. I think it will bring us more growth in newer markets in places where we’re exploring going into ancillary products,” he stated during Intermex’s March earnings call. Lisv’s remarks directly contradicted Ripple’s Feb. 5 press release announcing the partnership, which claimed that the deal would “enabl[e] faster cross-border payments between the U.S. and Mexico.”
New Tipbot Uses Cryptocurrency As An Incentive For People To Answer Questions
A new kind of cryptocurrency tipbot allows users to pay others to answer their questions on social media, providing a new tool to pool data in the ecosystem. Liser Lee of CCTip said that the system can help drive engagement or generate expert commentary. It lets users create a Twitter poll and automatically pay anyone who shares it with cryptocurrency, helping a poll gain more exposure and answers.
The company is also considering a system that pays the poll respondents instead. Other than Twitter, CCTip will also work on Telegram, Discord, WeChat, and on Reddit as well. It supports 200 different crypto assets, including Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ether (ETH), Tron (TRX), and many Ethereum-based tokens. Tron founder Justin Sun publicly thanked the firm when it added support for TRX in early April. Lee explained said that using a cryptocurrency-powered system is more effective when interacting with crypto enthusiasts compared to traditional systems. She pointed out that crypto community members may be simply happy to see their favorite crypto asset being used in the real world:
“If you pay BCH to a BCH enthusiast, he’s happy to see that BCH being used.”
Furthermore, the firm also launched the CCTip Ask feature last week, enabling users to ask any Twitter user a question. Lee showcased the system on May 18 by asking Bitcoin ABC lead developer Amaury Sechet if he believes Bitcoin Cash’s value can exceed the value of Bitcoin. Sechet was paid 0.5 BCH (about $114 as of press time) to answer the question he was asked on Twitter through the system. Lee commented:
“[CCTip Ask is] an effective way to get your question answered by a celebrity. If you raise a good question, answering the question is a good way to show your opinions. And it will attract more users’ attention.”
Cryptocurrencies enable anyone to instantly send payment to anyone else without having to share sensitive information with each other. This feature makes crypto assets the perfect fit for social media tipping, as many users on those platforms prefer to remain pseudonymous or otherwise protect their privacy. Because of this synergy, there’s lots of development in the crypto tipping space.
It was recently reported, that blockchain firm Aeternity recently launched its own social media monetization tool, which supports tipping in the form of Aeternity’s native coin, AE. The ever-changing landscape of cryptocurrency regulation still often threatens companies operating in the space, including tipbot services. In mid-May, XRP TipBot, a service enabling users to transfer XRP to each other via comments on Twitter, Reddit, and Discord, managed to save itself from having to shut its operations due to new regulations by partnering with digital payment platform Uphold.
Ripple Settlements Soon To Come To Japanese ATMs
Ripple partner and investor, SBI Holdings, announced plans to integrate Ripple-powered settlements across ATMs in Japan. The news was revealed in SBI’s latest financial report, announcing a plan to integrate the Ripple-powered settlements platform MoneyTap with ATMs run by various banks across Japan. The integration is intended to provide consumers with easier access to funds at ATMs regardless of their banking affiliation.
SBI claims that integrating MoneyTap will also allow banks to reduce the costs incurred through operating an ATMs, stating:
“Currently, each bank has an ATM with its own bank app, but with a common web app, the same ATM may be used as its own jointly operated multi-bank ATM.”
MoneyTap launched in October 2019 on iOS and Android, facilitating instant money transfers via QR Code or phone number. During September 2019, SBI chief executive and Ripple board member Yoshitaka Kitao stated that the firm was planning to utilize XRP for remittance in the future.
In other news regarding Ripple adoption, self-described digital asset bank Sygnum has launched support for XRP trading, custody, and credit services. Sygnum co-founder, Mathias Imbach, stated that he has been impressed by Ripple’s global traction — emphasizing that more than 300 financial institutions have joined the RippleNet payments network. “The company’s XRP-based solutions address the pain points of the fast-growing USD 700 billion global remittance market,” added Imbach. Despite Ripple gaining payment market share, XRP has ranked among the weakest performing crypto assets year-to-date among the top ten by capitalization.
Ripple Slammed With Another Lawsuit Alleging XRP Security Laws Violations
Attorneys for a company called Bitcoin Manipulation Abatement LLC have filed a lawsuit in a U.S. federal district court alleging Ripple misled investors and sold XRP as unregistered security in violation of federal law. According to court documents filed May 1, the mysterious entity with little online presence accused Ripple and its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brad Garlinghouse of raising more than a billion dollars through the sale and marketing of XRP as an unregistered security.
…in order to drive demand for and thereby increase profits from the sale of XRP, Defendants have made a litany of false and misleading statements regarding XRP in violation of California’s securities laws, and false advertising and unfair competition laws.”
Bitcoin Manipulation Abatement LLC seeks to “recover damages” and “obtain other relief” related to the alleged violations. The same firm also filed a $150 million lawsuit against crypto derivatives exchange FTX in November 2019 which was subsequently dismissed one month later. High profile members of the crypto community like Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao expressed his thoughts on the lawsuit claims, calling them “very far fetched”.
The firm has faced its fair share of legal action, whether short-lived or not, over its XRP token, currently the third most valuable by market cap. A class-action lawsuit brought in May 2018 — and currently moving forward — by attorneys for XRP investor Bradley Sostack has similar allegations of deceiving investors and violating securities laws. While Sostack does seek damages and compensation for legal costs, one of his stated goals was the recognition of XRP as a security. However, an amendment filed on March 25 suggested he was hedging his bets on the possibility the court may not acknowledge it as such. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has not yet taken a position on the matter.
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