R3CEV, Ripple May Band Together

  • Philip Ryan
  • May 20, 2016
  • 5

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / rosselladegradiIt looks like an R3CEV-Ripple partnership is in the works.

This development could be a sign of the bundling of distributed ledgers and alliances between companies and consortiums in the space.

The news was teased on Twitter today by Ripple CEO Chris Larsen:

But Larsen’s intriguing tweet is not the whole story. R3’s research director Jo Lang wrote up an evaluation of Ripple back in July 2015 — as it happen, R3’s “inaugural evaluation” in the space. The report noted multiple weaknesses in Ripple’s network, particularly a reliance on third-party validators:

The risks of a consensus split, whether intentional or not, are not unique to Ripple. With proper monitoring in place, the potential negative impact for most scenarios is relatively low. Users’ risk tolerance and unique requirements would determine the mitigation strategy. However, the highly centralized model that the Ripple Network encourages fails to eliminate any need for a trusted third party, but rather creates a new type of trusted third party. This is especially risky, as there is potential for incentive misalignment between institutions and Ripple Labs.

Another cautionary note was struck due to the possibility Ripple might increase reliance on its native currency, XRP, the cryptocurrency with the third-highest market cap, after bitcoins and ether. But R3CEV’s takeaway on Ripple was on balance positive.

The HyperLedger Project, a rival consortium from the Linux Foundation, recently appointed a new head, Brian Behlendorf, who was a primary development of the Apache web server, on which much of the web runs.

Yet another consortium is led by Chain, whose CEO Adam Ludwin recently criticized Corda: “That solution [doesn’t] have a shared infrastructure. I get why they landed there because it turns out it’s incredibly hard to get both distribution and privacy, and to get the consensus — to get all the things you need in one system. Again, it comes back to really serious software engineering to make that happen.”

Ripple is explicitly positioned as a bank-centric settlement system and claims that 10 of the world’s 50 largest banks work with it. Here’s its description of what it does:

Ripple’s distributed financial technology allows for banks around the world to directly transact with each other without the need for a central counterparty or correspondent.

These goals are in line with R3CEV, which recently launched its own distributed ledger, Corda, which has supports consensus mechanisms and has no native cryptocurrency. A core tenet of Corda is that no trusted third party is needed — the flaw pointed out in Ripple last year.

Regardless, it appears Ripple may work within Corda as a settlement option available to banks. Indeed, a number of banks already “work” in some fashion with both R3CEV and Ripple.

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Philip Ryan is Senior Editor of Bank Innovation and Senior Director of INV Fintech. He began covering financial services in 2012 and has more than 15 years' experience in online journalism. He can be reached at pryan@royalmedia.com.

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