DEFINITION of 'Ripple Swell'

In the bustling world of cryptocurrency, the playing field is always getting increasingly crowded. In order for a digital currency to make a name for itself and stay relevant, it must find a particular niche to occupy. This specialization can take many forms: cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based startups exist in many different forms and with a huge variety of purposes.

For ripple, the third-largest digital currency (as of March 5, 2017) according to, one way that currency developers decided to set XRP apart was through Swell, a broad, interactive conference which first took place in 2017 and brought together many of the top figures in the digital currency and blockchain spaces.

BREAKING DOWN 'Ripple Swell'

Ripple has been a major player in the cryptocurrency industry, making significant gains in price at the end of 2017. Many enthusiasts believe that XRP has the potential to enhance the way that banking is done, as it aims to speed up and smooth out the settlement process.

XRP has developed a reputation for seamless integration with traditional banking systems which has helped to propel it to the top of the cryptocurrency list.

Swell is another way that Ripple has garnered increased attention. 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.

The first iteration of Swell was called "Swell: The Future is Here." It was held in Toronto from October 16-18 in 2017. (See more: What Is Ripple Swell?)

Swell was planned to be a meeting point for many of the biggest names in the virtual currency world, as well as some of the top figures in blockchain technology. 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."

Using Blockchain to Transform Blockchain and Crypto Adoption

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. The first conference featured keynote speakers including 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, co-author of the book Blockchain Revolution, was also featured as a speaker.

The ripple website indicates that the agenda for the Swell summit in 2017 included a diverse array of events, including private meetings, keynote addresses, and special interest sessions. One event saw leaders of several traditional banks "reveal how payments are evolving in their businesses and the services they'd like to see their banks offer."

Another session was 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 payments 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.

All in all, the first Swell summit was intended to gather together "leaders in banking and payments, corporate treasurers and industry luminaries focused on blockchain." Most of the attendees at the event were there as representatives of existing financial companies, cryptocurrencies, or blockchain-related organizations. For this reason, the event was not broadly open to the public. Rather, interested parties needed to request special access to the event via the ripple website or at the Sibos banking and financial conference ahead of time. 

After the event, ripple analysts described Swell as "far from a typical banking event." They painted a picture of an event in which attendees were able to speak freely about issues surrounding cross-border payments and other major concerns for the industry.  The analysts also pointed to three themes that emerged:

  • Banks have a desire to improve the overall experience for customers.
  • Banks are broadly concerned about losing market share to other forms of payment service providers.
  • Banks are deeply invested and interested in the future of blockchain.

Dates for the 2018 Swell conference have yet to be posted.

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