Changes at Ripple, Mastercard Releases New APIs, and Zcash Price Surges

Enterprise blockchain firm Ripple just today announced the rise of a new CEO, as Brad Garlinghouse takes over from the company’s current CEO Chris Larsen. Larsen will serve as chairman of the executive board come January of next year, when Garlinghouse will move from COO to CEO.

Larsen wrote about the move on the company’s blog in a post released this morning:

We’re leading the market in ‘blockchain’ cross-border payments, ILP is on its way to becoming the standard for ledger interoperability, and XRP is emerging as the must-have digital asset for institutional transactions, wrote Larsen. And as a company, we’ve never been stronger in terms of capital, talent and leadership. I’m more excited about Ripple than I’ve ever been about anything else in fintech. And, I’m more excited now about Ripple’s opportunity than ever before.

In other blockchain news, MasterCard Labs has just released three new APIs specifically for development of blockchain technologies: the Blockchain Core API, Smart Contracts API, and Fast Pay Network API.

The company told Bank Innovation:

As part of our new API platform launch last month, we will be opening up access to our blockchain technology through APIs published on MasterCard Developers, which will [benefit] those merchants and banks that want to partner with us to develop blockchain solutions. This is part of our initiative to publish experimental APIs from MasterCard Labs and give developers the chance to work on emerging technologies that haven’t yet been commercialized by us.

Of course, the APIs are for use by developers, not to change MasterCard’s own rails, but like Visa’s recent partnership with Chain, MasterCard’s interest in blockchain could have a profound effect on the way money is moved through global systems.

In other, other blockchain news, the cryptocurrency world seems ready for a faster, even more anonymous kind of digital currency.

Zcash launched last Friday. The new digital currency is intriguing to the cryptocurrency community primarily for its promises of actually private transactions—the point of the currency is more anonymous trades than bitcoin or another cryptocurrency. The blockchain uses a cryptographic tool called “zk-SNARK,” which allows users to transact on the chain without sharing information.

However, the launch was noteworthy not because of the increased anonymity, but mainly due to the fact that Zcash reached a max unit price of 3,300 BTC (bitcoin) per 1 ZEC (the marker for Zcash).

3,300 BTC is worth around $2 million, although before Friday was out, 1 ZEC was trading at 48 BTC (about $35,000, if bitcoin prices remained at the high of $713).

Cryptocurrency trader Jacob Eliosoff states this fluctuation was a result not only of the cryptocurrency’s demand, but how it was released:

Eliosoff told Bank Innovation:

The fundamental problem was that there will be 21m coins, just like Bitcoin, but (by design) on the first day barely a hundred were mined.  It’s like if you held an auction for five records once owned by John Lennon, with the fine print noting that there were thousands more similar records to be auctioned later.  Some people might bid high for those first five, but it would be a mistake when the supply opened up.

While blockchain certainly seems to be filtering its way into what one might call traditional finance, maybe Zcash is the offering that will finally bring cryptocurrency along with it. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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