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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse asked 'are you the devil?' of the cryptocurrency world at Tech Crunch Disrupt...

The exchange took place today as part of a wider discussion on the topics of blockchain and banking.

Hosted by TechCrunch Editor-at-large Mike Butcher, the discussion included Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse, and Michael Arrington who is one of the original founders of TechCrunch in 2005 but has since moved on to other ventures, including some in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space.

Turns out Arrington and Garlinghouse go way back as well - when TechCrunch sold to AOL, the current Ripple CEO was one of the people inside AOL who helped make the deal happen.

As Editor of Global Crypto Press - i'm all too familiar with what comes next - it's something not only our own team here is split on, but the entire cryptocurrency community. 

On one hand, you have people who see banks turning to blockchain as part of a natural evolution of the technology.  On the other hand, die-hard cryptocurrency enthusiasts who see this tech as a means to an end for corporate controlled banking altogether - and anyone helping bring them into our world is undoubtedly evil.

To my surprise, TechCrunch's Mike Butcher chose this as the first thing to address, asking the Ripple CEO:

"The crypto libertarians to this day rail against ripple and XRP, and anyone who will deal with them... some of them actually literally called you the devil - so, are you?"

Garlinghouse responded:

"Look I think it's interesting place to start in part because I think there are a lot of religious zealots in the crypto space. And I think people believe things in a way that you would kind of describe as religious zealotry, ripple took a contrarian view pretty early in our evolution and said, look, if you want to really revolutionize the way payments work, if you really want to revolutionize the way transactions work in this regard, it's not gonna happen by everybody giving up their existing infrastructure and just switching to something new as much as I am actually a bull on Bitcoin. 

The Bitcoin blockchain is not trying to be one ledger to rule them. All ripple invented, is series of technologies built upon the XRP ledger that allows institutions, banks, and even in some cases governments, to take advantage of these technologies and dramatically accelerate the nature of transactions fully into talking points. But I'm trying to explain the thing I'm getting to is simple. The idea that the people who say that ripple is somehow that your word the devil, it's because we were partnering with the man we decided, if you want to enable an internet of value, got to connect the repositories of value - and the repositories of value are the banks."

Now to be clear, I own no XRP - and wouldn't call myself a fan.  But i'd be lying to say I think Garlinghouse is wrong. 

Just pause for second and honestly consider how ridiculous someone sounds making the case that blockchain is a superior method of both transferring funds and record keeping - and then saying they expect banks not to use it. That's literally everything a bank does, so of course they're keeping up with the latest tech that does it the best.  People expecting anything else are among this childish part of the cryptocurrency world that occasionally makes me cringe - your heart is in the right place, but it's a fantasy.

Point is - Ripple or some other company doing the exact same thing was bound to pop up, and when it did I couldn't have been any less surprised.  If Ripple is evil, it's an evil that would have happened with or without Brad Garlinghouse.

This isn't to say everything the Ripple CEO said had me nodding my head in agreement.

At one point, host Mike Butcher asked Garlinghouse about his 'general view' on Ethereum, in which Garlinghouse responded by pointing out that virtually all of the projects built on it's blockchain so far have proven only to be largely "experimental" and have "solved no real-world problems".

That's a statement I don't take issue with - I take issue with who's saying it. 

A deep look into Ripple's relationships with the banks, and it seems pretty damn experimental too.  When you look at the specifics of when Ripple announces a new relationship with a bank, more often than not you learn that 'experimenting' is exactly what the banks are doing with Ripple.  They're agreeing to try it out, not replace what their doing with any of Ripple's tech, and never by using the actual XRP token.

To understand where Ripple actually stands currently, compared to how they are hyped up by their fans, see what Garlinghouse himself recently told CNBC "You know, by the end of next year (2019), I would certainly hope that we would see you know in the order of... dozens  (of banks using their technology)" - that statement makes Ripple's true position today a bit more clear.

Our coverage of TechCrunch contines through the end of the week, with Coinbase CEO Brian Armstong wrapping things up on Friday.

TechCrunch Disrupt, the world’s top technology and startup event, is taking place in San Francisco on September 5-7, 2018. For more information and to tune-in to the livestream, please visit techcrunch.com
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Author & US Editor In Chief: Ross Davis
E-Mail: Ross@GlobalCryptoPress.com Twitter:@RossFM
San Francisco News Desk