In late 2017, we saw unusual interest in Ripple when the company appeared to be at the forefront of the revolution to change banking as we know it. This belief was further strengthen when Ripple CTO, Stefan Thomas who has a very interesting Twitter handle as @justmoon said on Quora during a Questions and Answers session that 2018 could be the year of the Interledger.
The Interledger Protocol is a system to connect different payment systems using the principle of interoperability. This means that you will be able to send and receive payments no matter what kind of cryptocurrencies or fiat currencies you and the other party holds. Let’s say for instance that I hold 5000 XRP. I can decide to send $200 in USD to Anna who lives in Amsterdam. Now, Anna holds most of her assets in XLM but she decides to receive the money I’m sending her in EUR. So, she selects EUR and receives the payment in EUR.
This kind of technology has the potential to completely revolutionize the current banking system. They are also the most in need at present. Most of us care less about decentralization today than we do about receiving payments faster and at lower costs. Priorities change during different times. There was a time when all people wanted to do was lock up their money in a bank and they were willing to pay whatever the cost or time required to wait for deposits and withdrawals or transfers.
Today expectations from the presenting banking system are higher but there has been little done to address problems that would make transactions faster and cheaper. We have seen similar innovation and disruption in other fields but in banking it has been difficult as large financial institutions have controlled the system for a long time without giving up control. Mails were replaced by emails, wagons and carriages were replaced by cars and trucks but the banking system remained obsolete and for the most part, there was no will and resolve to change the system because they have dominated and controlled the system for so long that they get to do whatever they like and people do not have a choice. However, all this changed during the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis. The way the banks were given a get out of jail free card and not just that, most of them retained their bonuses and gains. This was a big blow to most who were left stunned as to how powerful the banks had become that they could do anything with impunity.
The real game changer was when Satoshi Nakamoto published his paper around that time and chalked out solutions for resolving this problem by resorting to a decentralized economy with a deflationary model. This was a major breakthrough but early cryptocurrencies did not receive much recognition during the early days and certainly not much positive news either as the only use at the time for coins like BTC or Monero were to be held in wallets or be used on the black market as payments for drugs or guns. Today the whole scenario has changed completely. More and more cryptocurrencies are being accepted as payment methods by big companies. While it may be too early to talk of a decentralized economy to overthrow the current system, it certainly is not early to accept that banks and large financial institutions will have to work with some of these cryptocurrency projects whether they like it or not. When that happens, the Interledger protocol will receive more recognition and acceptance.