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I am David Schwartz, Chief Cryptographer at Ripple. AMA!

Feb 27th 2018 by sjoelkatz • 9 Questions • 320 Points

I am Chief Cryptographer at Ripple and one of the original architects of the XRP Ledger. Since November 2011, I've been working on developing and improving the underlying technologies behind Ripple's blockchain, currently focused on improving decentralization. I am known as “JoelKatz” in many online communities.

Proof: https://twitter.com/JoelKatz/status/968581291128967168

Update: Thanks so much for the great questions. I guess I should go back to work now. Feel free to contact me on Twitter -- I'm pretty much holding an AMA every day.

Q:
  1. Due to the global political environment, do you ever wonder or concern yourself how things might politically transpire if a country such as Russia (BRICS) (who has Russian banks becoming disconnected from SWIFT due to sanctions) were to integrate their entire financial system with Ripple technology (ILP/xCurrent) to bypass sanctions?

  2. Are there any smaller, unknown to the majority, blockchain projects that have caught your eye?

  3. Can you share any information on xPool?

A:

I'm hardly on expert on regulatory and compliance issues. Ripple doesn't do business with OFAC-sanctioned entities, or entities owned by them. No matter what technology you use, sanctions are still effective against endpoints in jurisdictions that enforce those sanctions.

I advise Chronicled and they're working on using blockchain technology and zero knowledge proofs to track the authenticity of products. I think we are just starting to understand what blockchains are really good for -- building decentralized systems that solve problems faced by frenemies who have a common problem they all benefit from solving but don't trust each other.

No news on xPool at this time.


Q:

Hi David, Stefan mentioned (in the interview at Google) that XRP is 'not static' and open for improvement.. Could you elaborate on te possibilities?

A:

Ripple has a team of talented developers working on improving the scalability and reliability of the XRP Ledger. We're also constantly evaluating the ledger's feature set and looking for ways to make the ledger more powerful. We've also seen increased community participation in this open source development effort.

We recently added payment channels and escrow to facilitate off-ledger scalability through protocols like ILP. The check feature will provide greater flexibility in receiving funds.

Because the XRP Ledger has a defined way to introduce features, build a consensus around them, and activate them in a non-disruptive way, it can evolve to incorporate new technologies faster than other systems can.

We're always open to new ideas.


Q:

There's lot of talk re: XLM and XRP. What really sets your company apart? (Or rather XLM and XRP/Stellar and Ripple apart - are both providing different solutions?

Also could you please elaborate on your tie-up with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? How exactly do your solutions help the needy and bridge the gap that we unfortunately face in society (evident even more so in the digital sphere)

A:

I think three things really set XRP apart from any other digital asset. One is the amazing team of dedicated professionals that Ripple has managed to amass to develop an ecosystem around XRP. The other is a focused use case for XRP and a coherent strategy to drive adoption for that use case. Last, the set of real customers finding business value in it. The history of technological innovation around the XRP Ledger speaks for itself.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Mojaloop project is aimed at providing national open source infrastructure for interoperable payment systems. The project uses the interledger protocol (ILP) to create that interoperability. Ripple collaborated with several other vendors and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to put this project together. The thinking is that interoperability lowers cost and enhances reach, making essential services more accessible.


Q:

What is the overall sentiment of xRapid beta tests right now? When can we expect the live version & are test partners on track to adopt the live version?

A:

Beta test feedback has been very positive. Cuallix has made public statements expressing their intention to move to production.


Q:

Where do you see XRP in the next 5 years? Do you believe it will be mainly used by financial institutions or do you believe it will become a common form of internet currency?

A:

I don't see fiat currencies going away any time soon. But I do see XRP playing a role as the global settlement asset in the internet of value in the next five years.


Q:

Were money gram and western union the two non bank household names you had mentioned at the end of 2017 or have those yet to be released?

A:

Yes.


Q:

Hi David. Ripple has made incredible strides in the past year. What do you see as the biggest challenge for Ripple, and XRP, to overcome in 2018 and beyond?

A:

This has been an amazing year and I think we've made great progress validating XRP's use case within RippleNet. We have the technology, we have the vision, we have the partnerships. The challenge for us is to maintain focus and keep executing. We're right at the point where our full vision is becoming reality.


Q:

What is Ripple working on as far as Xrapid goes, why is it still in beta?

A:

It has only been a few months since the first working version. When you're handling real money and rapid payments for enterprise customers, the reliability bar is very high. There are a lot of possible exceptional cases and you have to make sure they're handled correctly. There is very little margin for error.


Q:

When do you think XRP Ledger and XRP will become fully decentralized? Would it be possible in the future that XRP becomes fully independent and taken forward by the community instead of just the company?

A:

The XRP Ledger is open source and decentralized. Exchanges, institutions, and other users of XRP run the open source software and process independently every transaction.

We're on track for the XRP Ledger to be more decentralized than either bitcoin or Ethereum is now by the end of 2018. The XRP Ledger's distributed agreement technology doesn't have the inherent centralization that proof of work creates.

Ripple has no special powers over the XRP Ledger. We cannot force people to run software that has features or capabilities they don't want.

We welcome community involvement and other uses cases for XRP.