Exclusive: Why Ripple Sees Cross-Border Payments as the Next Crypto Chapter

Everyone has an opinion on Ripple (XRP), but how does Ripple think about itself?

In an exclusive interview, we speak to Brad Chase, Ripple’s Head of Liquidity Products, to figure out how the future looks — from liquidity management to decentralization to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Brad Chase - Ripple
Brad Chase.

Ripple expects — as do the people they survey — that decentralized solutions play a role in how liquidity is handled in the future.

It is from this angle that we explore the future of payments and, in particular, cross-border payments.

About Brad Chase

Brad Chase is the Head of Liquidity Products at Ripple, leading teams building products and services that aim to determine and deliver optimal liquidity for Ripple’s global customer-base in a cost-effective, robust, and scalable manner.

Earlier in his tenure at Ripple, Brad was a core contributor to the XRP Ledger, developing a simulation framework to test the XRP Ledger Consensus Protocol and co-authored a paper about the protocol’s theoretical safety properties.

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Prior to joining Ripple, Brad managed quantitative development and trading strategy research teams in the high-frequency trading industry for closer to a decade.

He holds Bachelor degrees in computer science and physics from Rice University and a Ph.D. in quantum information and control theory from the University of New Mexico.

Key Takeaways

  • The $130 trillion cross-border payment market is a major target for blockchain improvements.
  • The challenge lies in attracting liquidity from traditional finance to the crypto space.
  • Ripple already uses AI and ML to forecast customer demand for assets and optimize trade-offs for cost reduction.
  • What are the next trends? Tokenizing real-world assets, standardized on/off ramps, identity, and compliance solutions are crucial for mainstream adoption.

Blockchain’s Role in Modernizing Financial Infrastructures

Q: What challenges is the industry currently facing, and what are the pitfalls with some of the liquidity management solutions available today? 

A: Part of the challenge is that a lot of the foundational elements of our global financial system are pretty old — they haven’t changed much since the seventies. This means it’s tough to settle and move funds in that same real-time, traceable, visible manner you do when you send an email.

We believe blockchain and digital asset technologies are the things that actually can help solve that.

So there’s this $130 trillion cross-border payments market that we think is leveraging blockchain’s single source of truth, open, distributed, always available abilities. It is huge.

However, the distinction there is that if we’re going in and replacing that infrastructure, some of the money that’s sitting in that infrastructure — the actual liquidity that lets you trade — has not yet flowed in the crypto space just because it’s newer and more nascent.

Part of the challenge is that we’re trying to deliver that fantastic customer experience for our payment customers when they get that highly reliable cross-border payment at a low cost.

Ripple’s Approach to Enhancing Crypto Liquidity

Q: Can you expand on how Ripple builds a blueprint for the crypto industry to enhance liquidity management?

A: We’ve had to go deep in liquidity management on our journey by building our liquidity trading platforms, integrations, partnerships, and compliance services. These things take time to do well; unfortunately, many in the space didn’t do that.

But once you have those things, you can look and say, “Hey, today we’re able to solve a cross-border payment for a remittance company.”

Maybe a new company wants to sell luxury goods and is looking to accept stablecoins or offer non-fungible tokens (NFTs). They will have similar needs to manage liquidity and tap into that crypto liquidity so that their customers can bridge the fiat system into the digital asset system.

I’ve had the opportunity to lead and take that infrastructure we built for payments while recognizing its foundational infrastructure for other parts and business use cases. That’s our blueprint.

Given how new we are, there are all these bits and pieces that, as you solve a specific use case, you see, “Oh, the next use case is going to need a little bit of this, too.”

And so I think that also combats some of the downsides we’ve seen in the past year where, as you get good at that, it matures the ecosystem.

We are excited to continue that journey of finding new elements of infrastructure that can then be applied to different end-to-end use cases for customers.

AI and ML: Transforming Forecasting and Liquidity in Cross-Border Payments

Q: What role do you see AI and machine learning playing in predicting customer demand for assets? And how does this inform liquidity management?

A: I think the fun part of being in these industries that are working with new technologies is seeing how they connect with others. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are things that we already do at Ripple.

For payments, there are often decisions that have to be made on the scale of 27 million payments and $50 billion worth of cross-border payments.

So, you can’t have simple strategies that run at that scale. But AI and ML are the things that let you do that, right?

These technologies help you forecast and make your best estimates of the future for things that are not entirely predictable, such as exchange rate volatility or market supply. It then lets you systematically optimize trade-offs to reduce costs for our customers.

However, it keeps resiliency and builds towards a mini logistics platform with forecasting, planning, and execution systems that all come together to give that consistency.

Before Ripple, I worked in a high-frequency trading space. So many of the same forecasting and risk management technologies can be applied here, but really, there’s no other way to do it.

You need AI and ML to do this well at the scale consistency and speed we want to deliver for our customers.

The Synergy of AI and Blockchain in Modern Technology

Q: How do you see AI further disrupting the industry, and do you think both technologies can ultimately complement one another?

A:  One of the interesting parallels is how we have seen generative AI and large language models (LLMs) coming to the fore. But if you look back to the seeds of deep learning, then neural networks go back to the seventies and early eighties.

I think it’s that going from a new technology to being integrated into products and then being a part of people’s lives where it becomes just part of the fabric of what we do — that takes time. Crypto is very much in that phase of its journey as well.

I think there are interesting questions about what crypto can do for AI. With generative AI, there are a lot of questions around authenticity, copyright, and provenance, which blockchain does quite well.

The fantastic part and the way I think about blockchain technology, that’s just mind-blowing to me, is this shared infrastructure that is open, that anyone can participate in, and enables these different parties that have no preexisting agreements or arrangements to reach a shared source of truth.

Applying that to some of the data, some of the content generated by LLMs is a place where crypto might help speed the adoption of AI. It’s exciting to have both of these technologies at the forefront now and be part of the industry that gets to figure out how they can be combined.

The Ripple Effect: Institutional Adoption Boosting Crypto Stability and Growth

Q:  What other trends will emerge this year for the crypto industry?

A: I think the ETF approvals are a sign of one trend that I’ve seen in the last year. I guess we’ll see a lot of institutional adoption. We’ve had some of these up-and-down cycles throughout crypto, and crypto stayed around. I think that’s given confidence for institutions that it’s a thing that can be relied on to solve the problems that they’ve seen, the early signs of success, be it cross-border payments or otherwise.

The great thing, though, is this is a virtuous cycle. Institution adoption and compliance will help stability grow. As a result of that, more institutions will lean in. I think it’s just a fantastic cycle that will accelerate as it’s happening. So, I think we’ve seen it early in the year with the ETF adoption.

Beyond that, we’ll continue to see more work in broader tokenization representing real-world assets like real estate or other financial instruments on the blockchain. This, in turn, will make it more efficient to operate and manage. It will allow institutions to accelerate in a way we may not have seen three to five years ago.

I think what we’re learning in LiquidityHub is the value of on and off-ramps. I’m looking forward to the day, which is not too far away, when people stop thinking about, “Are you a crypto company?”

It’s the same way that people don’t ask if you’re an internet company anymore; it’s just part of how you operate your business.

I think establishing these components, on and off-ramps, identity and compliance solutions, and starting to have that infrastructure where it’s standard and can be used is what I hope to see happen in 2024.

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Neil C. Hughes
Senior Technology Writer

Neil is a freelance tech journalist with 20 years of experience in IT. He’s the host of the popular Tech Talks Daily Podcast, picking up a LinkedIn Top Voice for his influential insights in tech. Apart from Techopedia, his work can be found on INC, TNW, TechHQ, and Cybernews. Neil's favorite things in life range from wandering the tech conference show floors from Arizona to Armenia to enjoying a 5-day digital detox at Glastonbury Festival and supporting Derby County.  He believes technology works best when it brings people together.