XRP, the coin that Ripple Labs created and then gave to itself (and its founders), posted spectacular returns in 2017, going from $0.006 to over $2. The coin rose in parallel with an aggressive PR campaign from Ripple Labs. Let’s see what were the claims that they made throughout the year, and compare them to what was really going on.

January & February, 2017

XRP barely moved throughout January and February of 2017, stuck at $0.006. Nevertheless, on February 1, 2017, this rather impressive piece of news came out:

Fact check: one year later, National Bank of Abu Dhabi merged with First Gulf Bank, to form FAB (First Abu Dhabi Bank). Although news linked to the original press release abound, I could find no mention of FAB using Ripple’s technology. I contacted an employee of FAB working with blockchain initiatives, and asked him about the bank’s use of Ripple’s technology. He redirected me to the bank’s media relations group, who haven’t come back to me yet.

March, 2017

In mid-March of 2017, XRP started to slowly inch upwards, ending the month at $0.02. This coincided with a flurry of press releases:

Fact check: the piece of news, posted on Ripple’s own website, claimed that:

“[…] a consortium of 47 banks have successfully completed a pilot implementation of Ripple in Japan using a cloud-based payments platform. This platform, RC Cloud, is powered by Ripple’s solution and is the first in the world to enable real-time money transfers both domestically and internationally. As a result, the consortium has confirmed that it will move into commercial phase.”

ripple.com

Two years later, the result of that “consortium moving into commercial phase” is merely this mobile transfers app, which can only be used by the clients of three of the consortium’s banks. Hardly the integrated network of financial institutions one could expect.

Then, there was the piece of news about the Bank of England:

Fact check: under the program, the BoE conducted one proof-of-concept experiment using a Ripple solution built around the Interledger Protocol, and invited Ripple’s staff to a limited number of networking meet-ups. Ripple is currently listed among the “Firms we have worked with in the past” on the BoE’s “Fintech proofs-of-concept” page.

Then this:

Fact check: no need to go further than the press release itself. Mitsubishi UFG didn’t join Ripple’s growing number of customers, as claimed Brad Garlinghouse, the company’s CEO. MUFG simply joined:

“Ripple’s Global Payments Steering Group (GPSG) […] in overseeing the maintenance and enhancement of payment transaction rules and formalized standards for commercial use of Ripple’s network.”

ripple.com

April, 2017

April was another big month for XRP, as the coin shot up from $0.02 to 0.05. The first news hit on 4th April:

Fact check: this is a follow-up on a piece of news that came out in March. The text in the tweet is incredibly misleading, and is contradicted by the article. Japanese banks weren’t transferring money using Ripple, they had simply run proof-of-concept trials.

Then came this:

Fact check: to be honest, Ripple’s own press release wasn’t that misleading. However, they did share this article who clearly said in its headline that Mrs Delatinne left SWIFT for Ripple. In reality, her own LinkedIn page shows that she had left SWIFT four months earlier.

Then this:

Fact check: frankly, it’s funny that Ripple felt obliged to write “real customers”. Certainly a Freudian slip, because, as BBVA itself revealed in a press release that came out a year later, they were simply running an experiment:

“BBVA is currently developing several pilots with blockchain to understand and explore the possibilities of the technology, which could potentially play a key role in transforming the financial sector. The recently announced R3 pilot on blockchain in syndicated loans is just one example of BBVA’s activity in this field.”

ripple.com

Ripple’s tweet was incredibly misleading, yet again. Just like this one:

Fact check: besides double-counting MUFG and BBVA, which they already had mentioned in press releases, once again, Ripple says that banks are “customers” while all they did was run proof-of-concept trials. Unless Ripple’s business model was to make money by providing blockchain testing services to financial institutions, this is factually incorrect.

May, 2017

The month of May was huge for XRP, as the coin shot up from $0.05 to $0.22, pushed by the rising global craze for everything crypto, and rising investor demand as XRP was being added to multiple exchanges.

June, 2017

XRP inched up to $0.26 in a volatile month. Check out this incredible press release that came out just before month-end:

Ripple banged the nail on the head, stating that:

“The rollout of the service begins today. It’s the first commercially-available remittance service powered by Ripple. Those who use SBI Remit in Japan can instantly send money in JPY to a recipient’s SCB savings account in Thailand and receive funds in seconds.”

ripple.com

Fact check: maybe Ripple can explain this article from the Bangkok Post dated Mach 13, 2018, which says:

“The bank’s cross-border remittance through blockchain, which is only available for the Japanese yen, has trended positively, though the service is being tested out in the Bank of Thailand’s regulatory sandbox.

[…]

The bank is waiting for the central bank’s approval to allow its cross-border remittance service to exit the sandbox after testing began last June.”

bangkokpost.com

Now something that’s being tested in a sandbox, and doesn’t have regulatory approvals, can’t really be used by bank customers, can it, Ripple? Bad boy!

July, 2017

XRP tumbled to $0.16 throughout July, despite news about its consortium of Japanese banks reaching 61 members. Maybe crypto investors weren’t really interested in a consortium of proof-of-concept trials, or maybe XRP was pushed down by a wide-spread correction in cryptocurrencies.

August, 2017

As the cryptocurrency market rebounded, so did XRP, going back up to $0.25 in a volatile month:

“Not one specific event or rumor” indeed… But how about many specific events and rumours, funnelled by a company committed to create the impression that it’s technology is widely used by banks for commercial purposes, while it’s not?

September, October, November 2017

XRP limped along with the general cryptocurrency trend upwards, with little real news from Ripple. Maybe they were too busy with the infamous “Swell by Ripple” conference, where big ticket, paid-to-play speakers flew in to praise Ripple’s many supposed benefits:

December 2017

In a month when Krypto Kitties seemed like the best investment ever, and millions of unsophisticated investors rushed in to buy cryptocurrencies first, and ask questions later, Ripple exploded to over $2 practically overnight. Maybe it was due to Ripple locking in most of its XRPs in escrow…

… or maybe not. But one thing is fairly certain: the company’s relentless issuance of misleading, and borderline false press releases, led to a biased perception of the company’s technology and its adoption.

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3 Comments

  1. A few things to add:
    – By design, PR and marketing is a necessary evil. No company exists without it. No need to cherry pick Ripple here. Some claims might be exaggerated, some not.
    – All cryptocoins rose (almost at the same time) to all time highs and then fell down. No need to cherry pick XRP here.
    – IT projects are complex and take time to mature from POC to Pilot to Production. Can take years. Probably the same for Ripple’s suite of products.
    – You forgot pointing out that regulatory clarity takes time, perhaps even is one of the biggest reasons Ripple’s customers are on hold?

    – Lastely a question: why do many people envy Ripple’s XRP holdings? Were people as envious when XRP had no value at all? Like in the beginning? Or did people only woke up to envy when people saw potential in XRP and price rose? Why don’t you make something and then try to sell it. Paint something, build something, who knows what value people will give it.

    People only seem to question intentions and usefullnes in hindsight, when they have missed out on something, or, when they fear something will be a threat.
    Hence, your anonymous blogs……

    1. 1. I would agree on the marketing exaggerations if Ripple wasn’t selling millions of XRP coins for real dollars every day. Of course you can and should paint a rosy picture of your product. But lying that you have a “network of 200+ financial institutions who are using Ripple’s technology to transact with each other” when in reality, it’s just a few trial runs, sandbox tests, and a couple of mobile apps, and using that lie to sell virtual magic beans to people who understand nothing about banking or finance, is fraud.
      2. It’s not only the price, it’s also the liquidity. For 99% of cryptocurrencies, you could barely cash out a few million before sending it to zero. Ripple created liquidity for XRP through lies and deceptive marketing material, to cash out billions.
      3. Agree, but then why lie about it?
      4. Of course it is. KYC & AML is the real bottleneck for transactions, but Ripple does nothing to solve it. All it does is writing to a database. Its “clients” are on hold because Ripple’s tech is useless because of the regulatory environment. But the environment isn’t going to change. SO Ripple should change. But they don’t, because it’s hard. They’d rather circle jerk and explain how their database is magical for unknown reasons.
      5. People weren’t fighting Ripple when it was nothing because it wasn’t defrauding XRP investors back then. It used fraud to pump up XRP and that got people pissed. Your use of “envious” is scandalous. Do you claim that people go after rapists because they’re envious, too, of not having committed rape themselves?

      1. 1. I really don’t think Ripple is a fraud, cos where will they run when exposed? Hide in the bushes? Why don’t partners of Ripple say they are a fraud? Why are always just anon bloggers eager to FUD, and not real customers? I will give you this: they might have exaggerated here and there. But who knows they had a great reason for that in hindsight? For instance, PR was right at that time, but not longer anymore, cos well, things change and nothing is constant in life.

        2. That is a really far fetched business model you grant Ripple: rip off XRP holders?
        Actually, Ripple is investing my money via selling XRP, cos I trust them to invest it wisely! If they succeed, it’s a win-win.
        If not, at least they tried.

        3. At most, they exaggerate, but don’t lie. Most likely, they have lots of nda’s with partners. So, you can’t expect a business company to give away everything, just to comfort me and you.

        4. In a worst case scenario, regulation will be unkind to Ripple and XRP. Athough some say XRP can survive without Ripple, I am not so sure. But at least admit that the Howey-test for defining a security is really archaic and crypto regulation in general has to change to modern days.

        5. Serious question: were you once, or still a XRP holder, or maybe other crypto and got burnt (lost money)?
        If so, I am sorry to hear.
        I just hope you acknowledge that you might be wrong on Ripple and XRP.
        Let time decide.

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