Ripple “growing quickly” but may wait to review transaction data publications

By Emma Olsson | 10 December 2019

Ripple may review its policy around publishing transaction data but not until it experiences more growth according to Marcus Treacher, senior vice president of customer success of the blockchain-based payments software firm.

“We’re a very young network, it’s growing very quickly. When you get to a point when you’ve got a massive network, then you might want to say things about the flow or the volume etc; right now we’re still young we’re still growing, so we talk about the growth rate, we talk about coverage, and we talk about the time we take to deliver end to end. That’s what we put out and that’s enough to give a comfortable [indication] to where we’re heading and the impact that we’re having,” says Treacher.

Ripple has not indicated when transfer data will become available. The company does publicise its growth rate, coverage, and delivery time, or ledger close time. Quarterly XRP reports for its cryptographic ledger market are also published. The company declined to comment on whether it shares its network data with prospective customers or partners.

“In terms of the transaction rates and delivery rates, on policy we don’t [release data], but it’s certainly way up in the right space, let’s put it that way. Otherwise you wouldn’t have the adoption we’re getting. It’s just a policy we have.”

In a recent paper for the London School of Economics, banking consultant Martin Walker pointed out that Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse had claimed that six percent of payment network SWIFT’s financial transactions failed and required human intervention.

Walker wrote that the six percent did not refer to the amount of errors in SWIFT messages, as claimed by Garlinghouse on multiple occasions. The figure comes from a 2014 paper published by SWIFT, which Walker wrote has been misconstrued by Ripple. Walker reports that according to Kimmo Soramäki, one of the authors of the SWIFT paper, the six percent error rate refers to the accuracy of the model used by the researchers to identify “whether participants on the SWIFT network were core or peripheral parts of the network,” not the accuracy of Swift messages.

Walker’s comments refer to claims made by Garlinghouse’s presentation at the 9th High-Level Conference on the International Monetary System in May: “Another thing that is often lost upon us is the opaqueness of the problems that correspondent banking currently operates. There is a six percent error rate, self-published, six percent of all SWIFT transactions require human intervention.”

“We were talking about the concept of the atomic payment,” says Treacher.

“With SWIFT’s model you start with one bank that sends a message and another bank picks that message up and each bank works on it. Sometimes it’s complete, sometimes it’s not. Does the message always get there? Yes. So SWIFT would say they are highly reliable, you put one message in one end, it gets to the other end.”

According to Treacher, SWIFT’s messaging model is problematic.

“However, if you look a bit wider, look at what happens to that message – the payment it’s triggering actually in many cases doesn’t work, because it’s missing information, and because when the banks send the payment instruction from one to the other, they’re not able to talk to each other and understand up front have they got enough information, are they both comfortable, are they good to make that payment.

“Because of that you have this category called beneficiary claims non-receipt. If you go to any bank, they’ll point you to their help desk and all the calls will be from people who believe they haven’t got their money, and that’s all due to the transaction missing something or maybe getting trapped in some queue. The transaction always had a very quick Swift network, but the whole end-to-end bit that is part of that Swift paradigm throws out those problems, and that’s really where there’s been a back and forth in the media.”

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