What Is Ripple Swell?

Ripple Swell is the annual conference held by the American technology company Ripple. In 2020, Ripple Swell is slated to be held virtually in October, though in 2019, the conference was held in the city-state island of Singapore.

Originally named OpenCoin, Ripple Labs was formed in 2013. Its chief product was the Ripple payments protocol and the cryptocurrency XRP. As of September 2020, XRP is the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap.

Key Takeaways

  • Ripple Swell is an annual conference hosted by Ripple Labs Inc to showcase the company's new technology and promote its cryptocurrency XRP.
  • The first Ripple Swell was held in 2017, featuring keynote speakers including former Federal Reserve Chairman Dr. Ben Bernanke, Internet inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin.
  • Ripple Swell will be held virtually in 2020.

How Ripple Swell Works

As a somewhat unique entity (a corporation that represents a cryptocurrency), Ripple decided to lean into its unique profile by creating a yearly conference called Swell, a broad, interactive conference that brought together many of the top figures in the digital currency and blockchain worlds. The Ripple team first announced the conference in August of 2017, and the first events took place the following October.

Ripple said customers had "requested that Ripple bring together leaders in banking and blockchain who are committed to changing the way the world moves money today." The result of those requests was the conference.

Ripple Swell 2017

The first iteration of Swell was called "Swell: The Future is Here." It was held in Toronto from October 16–18 in 2017. The first Swell conference centered on discussions of ways that blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies could work toward transforming the way that traditional financial systems are built.

Featured keynote speakers included Dr. Ben Bernanke, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, early Internet guru and inventor of the world wide web. Don Tapscott, the co-author of the book "Blockchain Revolution," was also featured as a speaker.

According to the Swell website, the event was billed as featuring "a roster of payments experts and industry luminaries." The event itself was an opportunity for those major players to meet and "discuss trends, success stories of blockchain implementations and real-world blockchain use cases to meet changing customer demands for global payments."

The Ripple website indicates that the agenda for the Swell summit in 2017 included a diverse array of events, including a session geared toward RippleNet customers, offering users of the global payment system the chance to discuss the ways that they have integrated Ripple into their own global payment practices. Other sessions focused on regulation in the cryptocurrency space or on trends in the digital asset world.

Swell in 2017 also featured a number of representatives from "first-mover banks," each of whom discussed their own specific use cases involving ripple and related technology. These speakers commented on the opportunities that new payment processing companies may be able to discover in the traditional banking model, as well as potential problems and barriers they may encounter in the process as well.

One of the brightest cryptocurrency stars to feature in the Swell conference was Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin. Buterin participated on a panel that offered commentary on the many practical uses of blockchain technology and how they expect that blockchain will continue to develop into the future.

Ripple Swell 2019

The most recent Ripple Swell was held in Singapore at the end of 2019. The keynote speakers included Kamal Quadir, CEO of bKash, Chan Heng Chee Ambassador-at-Large for the Singapore Foreign Ministry, and Raghuram Rajan the Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at Chicago University's Booth School of Business.

The price of XRP swooned opening day, and pundits speculated this might be due to a lack of big announcements coming from the company. But CEO Brad Garlinghouse said the drop in price XRP's price was immaterial to the success of Ripple. He went on the make the apocalyptic claim that there is a mass extinction event looming across crypto markets, with only 1% of current coins surviving. Naturally, XRP is in the 1%. “I don’t think about the price of XRP in the short term,” he said.

Ripple also delivered a litany of good news at Swell 2019: Ripple surpassed 300 customers consisting of a global network of banks, financial institutions, and payment providers; Ripple's On-Demand Liquidity product announced just a year ago has several new customers including goLance, Viamericas, FlashFX, and Interbank Peru; moreover, the number of transactions using ODL from the end of Q1 to the end of October grew 7X.