Ripple’s Xpring team, which launched as a grant program for projects utilizing the cryptocurrency XRP, has now expanded its remit within Ripple. Xpring now has 32 employees, including nine new engineers, and will be aggressively building out the developer toolkit for the XRP blockchain—making it easier to integrate XRP into applications.
XRP is a cryptocurrency designed for cross-border payments, invented by some of the same staff who work at Ripple. The company uses it for its suite of products aimed at companies regularly making international transactions, making them faster and cheaper—in theory.
Unlike cryptocurrencies run and maintained by decentralized communities (such as Bitcoin and Ethereum) with grassroots support, adoption of XRP has largely been driven by Ripple itself. But it’s trying to encourage more developers outside the company to get involved, introducing it into more platforms and making it more widely used.
To do so, Xpring has created a new platform for testing and building applications involving XRP, simply called the Xpring platform. It’s made up of tools to make developers’ lives easier, such as software development kits, programs to help grow the ecosystem via partnerships with developers, and services designed to provide liquidity (a flow of XRP) for new projects.
Ethan Beard, SVP of Xpring, told Decrypt, “The platform contributes to a number of open source core technologies, one being XRP, the next being Interledger, a standardized payments protocol. The third is web monetization, an open standard for content creators to monetize their content.”
In fact, he argued, having a company focused on one coin is actually a good thing. “There are some advantages to having companies whose sole focus is on advancing some of the open source core protocols, and making it easy for people to build on,” he said, adding, “It’s supplying dedicated resources that decentralized ecosystems have to some degree. With Bitcoin, where do you go for help?”
Boosting the core XRP technology
Xpring has also concentrated its attention on the core technology stack surrounding XRP, including the XRP ledger—the name given to the XRP blockchain.
“We’ve contributed a new feature that allows people to delete accounts. If you have an account, there’s a minimum XRP balance you have to keep on there. We’re contributed a new feature that allows users to delete their accounts and reclaim their XRP,” Beard said.
The minimum balance is currently set at 20 XRP, worth $5, which isn’t a huge boon for XRP users—but will make a difference for those with multiple accounts.
On top of that, Xpring has provided a new API—a way of collecting data from the blockchain—which it claims will make the XRP ledger easier to use. It has also created a new account format that makes it simpler to send money over the ledger.
Xpring has also developed some technology for Interledger, an open protocol invented by Ripple for sending money using any cryptocurrency or fiat currency. There are currently implementations of Interledger that use XRP and Ethereum (ETH) as the underlying cryptocurrency for settling payments.
But now, Xpring has added implementations for both XRP and ETH in Rust, a popular programming language that’s popular with many developers. This should increase the number of developers who are able to work with Interledger.
The fruits of Xpring
So, Xpring is working doggedly to boost adoption of XRP and its core technology stack. But is it working?
“I think [adoption] is increasing,” Beard said, adding, “As an example, BitPay will be adding XRP to their wallet, and to their merchant tool so that you’ll be able to use XRP throughout their merchants. At AT&T and Microsoft, you’ll be able to use XRP.”
BitPay is a cryptocurrency payments processor that sees 90 percent of its payments made it Bitcoin. It is currently evaluating whether to add XRP to its wallet, according to reports.
Beard further argued that Xpring is fixing a hole in the industry. “We’ve spoken to developers who’ve expressed the challenges of building on all the different blockchains,” he said. “We know there’s a demand for better tools and see room for improvement.”
Despite Xpring’s best efforts, the price of XRP has been on a steady decline, and has fallen below pre-2017 bull run levels, a worrying sign that suggests limited adoption. But Beard was unconcerned: “We don’t talk about the price.”