Bitcoin and Ether, both fairly quiet in the last 2 weeks of the year, experienced price increases in the first week of 2018. With several smaller tokens experiencing triple digit gains, many traders likely took profits from those price increases and re-invested back into the two most seasoned cryptocurrencies.
As the Ripple token (XRP) briefly overshot $3, press scrutiny on the token and underlying company increased. In our last newsletter, we questioned whether the XRP token is being used by the Ripple's bank customers. We received the answer via articles in the NY Times and twitter exchanges as this issue heated up. Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple's CEO, wrote that he expects 3 banks to use the currency in 2018. The CEO of ViaAmericas, a LatAm money transfer business, confirmed the company has been testing transactions using XRP and that the technology "held promise", but that volatility in the currency could be a deterrent in using it in production.
Technology development continues in the major protocols, with Ethereum proposing scaling solutions and the Lightning network (which would allow microtransactions on blockchains including the Bitcoin blockchain) also moving to more advanced testing. I am also seeing a number of strong teams starting new companies to address current limitations and focused on vertical specific applications - I am excited by the progress I am seeing. I expect Future\Perfect Ventures to make a number of investments on this front in the next year.
Even Mark Zuckerberg commented on cryptocurrency in his 2018 Mission Statement: "There are important counter-trends to this — encryption and cryptocurrency — that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people's hands. But they come with the risk of being harder to control. I'm interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services." It will be interesting to see what Facebook, which is a poster child for centralized internet services through its data collection and monetization, does with the technology. An obvious step would be to offer tokens to its users that could be redeemed for different services. A bolder step would be to utilize blockchain technology for revenue sharing or data integrity. Either way, his statement is testament to the fact that this technology is here to stay.