W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webpayments@w3.org > February 2016

Re: Stellar launches - Ripple-like decentralized ledger

From: Adrian Hope-Bailie <adrian@hopebailie.com>
Date: Wed, 17 Feb 2016 11:54:53 +0200
Message-ID: <CA+eFz_+pMRSiwaUiGhtFQcmzhertYmm45fyA9QWneW2yROSRgQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>
Cc: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>, John Packel <jpackel@yahoo.com>, Web Payments CG <public-webpayments@w3.org>
Much has changed since August 2014. This is some context from me in my
personal capacity.

I now work for Ripple for starters, so I have a far better informed opinion
on the motivations for "self-mining" (funding the development of enterprise
grade distributed payments software by 80+ world-class engineers for
starters) and our relationship with our former co-founder and this
settlement than I did in August 2014. Let's just say that there are two
sides to every story and leave it at that.

In the year and half since this thread began most observers would have
noticed Ripple's strategy change to be very focused on cross-border
settlement and distributed financial technology as opposed to last mile
payments and financial inclusion which appears to be the primary focus of

I joined Ripple in April 2015 to focus on open payments standards as the
company had made the strategic decision that these were crucial to fixing
global payments.

Many misunderstood this to mean Ripple wants to "make the Ripple protocol a
global standard" whereas the company had long since acknowledged the
scalability challenges with trying to standardize on a single ledger (this
was the beginnings of the research that lead to the development of the
Interledger Protocol).

Many people are coming to that same conclusion now[1] and my hope is that
it drives them to support the development of ILP rather than stick with
their "one ledger to rule them all" mentality but unfortunately the fact
that ILP was invented by Ripple sometimes counts against it among specific

As one of my colleagues once said: "Haters gonna hate." As an employee I
can confirm that one of the most prized values at Ripple is being
constructive (as opposed to intentionally disruptive). There are a lot of
people that believe working with, rather than against, the banks pits
Ripple as a direct competitor to Bitcoin and other similar technologies but
that's certainly not how Ripple views the world.

As has already been pointed[2] out elements of the Bitcoin community may
have their own reasons for not supporting an open inter-operability
standard but I don't want to be drawn on that. The good news is that often
a good explanation if ILP will turn even the most ardent anti-Ripple minds
to the fact that ILP is a very good idea and deserves their support.

The development of ILP and the promotion of it as a global, neutral, open
standard was Ripple's acknowledgement that our ledger will have a specific
use case but that the world will ultimately be filled with ledgers (open,
closed, distributed, centralized, etc) that all fulfill a specific purpose
and that what is required is a way for these to inter-operate.

In an ideal world there would be representatives from all of the major
ledger vendors (both commercial and FLOSS, including Stellar) in the ILP CG
making sure that the protocol evolves in a manner that will ensure their
ledger is able to easily implement the necessary functions such as escrow
and crypto-conditions.

The good news is that we have over 100 attendees already registered for the
ILP workshop next week (40+ in person) from a huge variety of organizations
including large silicon valley tech companies, global payments companies,
banks, blockchain/crypto start-ups, central banks, universities and more.
Ripple engineers are already assisting other organizations to develop their
own implementations of ILP so that the protocol becomes a true standard and
not just a specification published by a standards body with a single
implementer. ILP is gaining traction and we (the ILP community) have an
opportunity to be part of something truly game-changing.

I sometimes compare ILP and Ripple to SPDY and Google. SPDY/3 was adopted
as the first draft of HTTP2 with minor changes but not without some
push-back purely based on the fact that it was developed by Google
initially who had benefited from having control over a browser and a
significant server population.

I think what many struggle to reconcile is why a commercial, venture-backed
entity like Ripple would be promoting something that could ultimately be
used by its competition. I mean, if ILP is an open standard what's stopping
other people implementing it and competing with Ripple's commercial
products? You could ask the same of the browser vendors at the W3C. They
are all co-operating on the development of open standards because they
believe they can win customers on their ability to execute. A rising tide
raises all ships.

Personally, I have been a long time believer in open standards as an
enabler of better inter-operability in payments. That's why I started
OpenPayee and subsequently joined the Web Payments CG many years ago.

It was sheer luck that I crossed paths with Ripple last April just when
they were looking for someone to advocate for open payments standards and
they have employed me to do this ever since.

[2] http://www.coindesk.com/bitcoin-bad-reputation-payments-standards-w3c/

On 16 February 2016 at 21:28, Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>

> On 1 August 2014 at 16:19, Adrian Hope-Bailie <adrian@hopebailie.com>
> wrote:
>> My theory is that Ripple have realised that they will not get wide spread
>> support given that their intermediary currency is mostly held by themselves.
>> i.e. They invented a network that will make them rich if everyone starts
>> to use it.
>> My hope is that the change of heart is because those involved in Stellar
>> genuinely want to use the technology for good.
>> By the way they don't hide the fact that they have history with Ripple
>> (see Jed McCaleb's entry on the team page) or their indirect support of
>> Ripple (see the Bitcoin Program under their mandate).
> For those that have been following this work, there has been a new
> development together with an announcement on Jed's blog
> http://jedmccaleb.com/blog/my-settlement-victory-with-ripple/
>> The Bitcoin program is very interesting reading. (
>> https://www.stellar.org/about/mandate/#Bitcoin_program)
>> As I understand it they are encouraging people to buy Bitcoin over the
>> next 6 months and donate their XRP to charities for the best return on
>> whatever XRP they had on 24 May.
>> On 31 July 2014 21:51, Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com> wrote:
>>> On 07/31/2014 03:11 PM, John Packel wrote:
>>> > Not a fork but a new project/company (non-profit, apparently). McCaleb
>>> > was a founder of Ripple's precursor and then left after a dispute with
>>> > the other founders. Several press stories about it last year.
>>> If it's not a fork, then why are all the main contributors to Ripple the
>>> main contributors to Stellar? Look at the frequency and magnitude of
>>> commits by author between stellard and rippled:
>>> https://github.com/stellar/stellard/graphs/contributors
>>> https://github.com/ripple/rippled/graphs/contributors
>>> I get that the code base is now managed by a non-profit and that the
>>> disbursement model is different than Ripple, but other than that, it
>>> looks like it's basically the Ripple protocol (even most of the codebase
>>> is shared).
>>> >From where I sit, and this is just conjecture again, it looks like Jed
>>> (or this new organization) is trying to resolve the long-standing
>>> "private entities own a significant amount of the pre-mined currency"
>>> criticism.
>>> -- manu
>>> --
>>> Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny, G+: +Manu Sporny)
>>> Founder/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
>>> blog: High-Stakes Credentials and Web Login
>>> http://manu.sporny.org/2014/identity-credentials/
Received on Wednesday, 17 February 2016 09:55:23 UTC

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