Ripio Credit Network (RCN) Review: Global P2P Credit Protocol
The Ripio Credit Network is another project looking to help bank the unbanked. In this case it is primarily the unbanked of South America, where 65% of the population is unbanked.
Ripio will provide digital payments and loans throughout the region, and they have been quite successful so far. However, this success has not been able to improve the prospects of the RCN token as it remains engulfed by the overall bear market in crypto.
Will RCN recover and can Ripio separate itself from similar lending networks?
In this Ripio Network Review, I will take attempt to answer that question by looking into their technology, development and roadmap. I will also analyse the long term use cases for RCN and its adoption potential.
What is the Ripio Credit Network?
South America has traditionally been plagued by corruption and a lack of transparency in financial dealings and the Ripio Credit Network is looking to change that by bringing financial stability and transparency to the lending and credit sector.
Through Ripio users can access a network of peer-to-peer lenders. Lenders and borrowers in the network can live anywhere in the world, and can use any fiat currency normally.
Ripio seeks to create a better credit and lending solution for its users compared to current traditional offerings. And since the Ripio network avoids the fees and costs associated with traditional banking and lending services it can successfully improve on the lending landscape.
The Ripio Credit Network was designed to use cosigned smart contracts to create a global credit network connecting lenders with borrowers from every corner of the world and using any and all fiat currencies.
By using smart contracts Ripio can give agents the access they need to analyze the creditworthiness of a borrower in an unbiased manner, and thus standardize blockchain credit lending.
Ripio uses an ERC-20 token with the ticker symbol RCN, and utilizes the Ethereum blockchain.
That RCN Token has two primary functions on the platform:
- Holding the RCN token will allow the lenders to gain access to the Ripio platform.
- In order to incentivise those conducting the credit checks. RCN will be used to compensate the agents that analyze borrower creditworthiness.
These two functions tie the value of RCN tokens to the usage of the Ripio platform. The more users of Ripio and loans taken out, the greater the value of RCN tokens. And borrowers will continue to be paid in their native fiat currency, which helps support greater adoption of the platform.
To go into greater depth regarding the token economics and technical side of the network you can read the Ripio whitepaper.
Ripio Team & Partners
Ripio is based in Argentina and its team has extensive blockchain experience. Many of the team members have been working together since 2013, when the Ripio Credit Network was launched as BitPagos, the first Bitcin payment platform in Latin America. In 2014 they released Ripio, which was a Bitcoin wallet at the time.
Finally in 2017 BitPagos was rebranded to the Ripio Credit Network. Considering the extensive history of the project it is somewhat surprising to learn that it has just 14 members – 7 on the business and operations side, and 7 on the development side. Below are some of the key members:
Sebastian Serrano is the founder and CEO of the Ripio Credit Network. He began programming at the tender age of 7 and was part of a team that brought the first internet service provider to his hometown of Patagonia. Andres Fleischer is the Head of Operations for Latin America and Chief Operating Officer. He was previously at IBM as an accounting analyst.
The Ripio Credit Network also enjoys advising from several key blockchain pioneers. One is Sergio Demien Lerner, who is one of the co-founders of RSK as well as being the Chief Scientist for RSK Labs. Another is Juan Llanos, Regtech and Fintech lead at Consensys.
Additionally, Ripio has had no less than 6 venture capital funding rounds, raising more than $6 million in addition to their successful ICO. These include the likes of FBG Capital, Blocktower capital and BNK to the Future to name but a few - always great to see institutional backing.
Finally, Ripio has also partnered with a number of other blockchain projects as they roll out their protocol. Here are some examples of those partnerships and collaborations:
- Decentraland: Decentraland (MANA) have partnered with RCN to provide smart contract-based mortgages for purchasing land in their virtual ecosystem.
- Bloom: RCN is leveraging Bloom's expertise in identity verification and reputation management. This is through their BloomID and BloomIQ products
- Request Network: This collaboration with the Request Network will explore an integration of both technologies so that REQ network participants can issue invoice payments through the RCN protocol
- Kyber Network: This partnership will see the Kyber Network provide conversion services that are needed in order for wallet providers and credit exchanges to integrate the RCN protocol.
These are only a handful of the partnerships and the team may add more to the list as they move further on in development. If you wanted to keep fully up to date with these then you can head on over to their official news blog.
Ripio Marketing Strategy
Because the project is focused on the market in South America most of its efforts at marketing have been in Spanish. As a non-Spanish speaker as far as I can tell they have done a good job increasing awareness of their brand and offering in their target market.
The latest information shows the project has over 130,000 active users in Argentina and Brazil, and they continue looking for partnerships to expand into Mexico and Southeast Asia.
The social media side of things has been a bit disappointing in 2018 as growth slowed for most social media channels. The Ripio Twitter account has close to 20,000 followers, which isn’t bad, but the projects sub-Reddit has just 502 followers and activity is quite sparse.
The Facebook page is quite large for a crypto project, with 14,672 followers. There’s no official Ripio YouTube channel, which means they are missing out on an opportunity because video can be an excellent way to get your message out.
Ripio also has a Medium blog, and they did an excellent job keeping it updated through April 2018. Then there was an unexplained gap of 6 months. The team began posting again in October 2018, but the pace is much slower, with just 1 post per month on average. They also fail to link from their official website to their Medium blog, which seems to be an oversight on their part.
The RCN Token
As mentioned above, Ripio has received over $6 million in VC funding, but in addition to that they also conducted an ICO that concluded in November 2017. The team raised $37 million in that ICO, selling 501 million tokens at $0.07425. The total supply of RCN tokens is 1 billion.
The token began climbing immediately following the ICO and continued gaining until reaching an all-time high of $0.5114 on January 10, 2018. Of course this was during the period that the entire cryptocurrency market surged higher. The bear market of 2018 was far less kind to the RCN token, and a year after hitting its all-time high it had reached a floor around the $0.01 level.
In fact, it seems to have bottomed out on February 5, 2019 at $0.010021 and has been creeping higher since. As of April 1, 2019 it is at $0.030567. That’s still less than half the ICO price, so the token has to more than double in value from its current price just to get back to parity for early investors.
RCN is available on a number of exchanges, with just over half the trading volume on the CHAOEX exchange. There’s also a good deal of volume in RCN on Binance and both Bittrex and Upbit have small trading volumes.
There does appear to be a decent amount of liquidity across these exchanges. This means that the market can absorb a great deal of orders throughout the day without that much of an impact on price. RCN is still quite volatile though so should be traded with caution.
Development & Roadmap
Determining exactly how much work is being done on a project can sometimes be tough. However, there are a few "rules of thumb" which can give you a rough idea of it. One of the most effective ways to do this is to take a look at a project's public GitHub activity.
The amount of code commits to a project's repositories is a handy way to measure how much code is being pushed. I decided to head on over to the Ripio GitHub and take stock of their development. Below are the code commits for their two most active repos.
As you can see, the developers have been quite active and have been pushing code regularly throughout the past year. It is also worth pointing out that they have a further 20 other repos in their GitHub on top of these two.
This is more development than we have seen on other projects at similar stages in their life. In fact, if you were to look at the ranking of Ripio on code tracking websites, they fair well amoung other projects. For example, Ripio is placed at 53 on Coincodecap.
Perhaps this frenetic pace of development is not a coincidence. The Ripio team has a pretty detailed roadmap that breaks down some of the most important priorities in development. Some of these are already in the advanced stages whereas others have yet to be taken up. You can see the full roadmap here.
The Ripio Credit Network has been smart to focus their energies on South America and grow from there. It seems to be working for them, and is a much better strategy than claiming they are going to immediately take on the global lending industry. The team knows and understands the South American lending environment and culture, which gives them an advantage in this region. Once they have gained a regional foothold they plan to focus on global growth.
Creating a lending platform based on blockchain makes sense, but allowing borrowers to deal in fiat and avoid the need for them to understand cryptocurrency is a good business plan. The RCN token works in the background, and that’s wise since the unbanked population likely has little knowledge of cryptocurrencies and if Ripio had to educate them it might present a hurdle that’s too large to overcome.
If you consider the ICO price of RCN tokens as fair then the current price is extremely undervalued and RCN is a bargain right now. Those who begin accumulating RCN tokens now could see their investment more than double in the coming months. And if prices approach all-time highs again the profits for investors now could be 15-20x their investment.
The lull in activity from the team in 2018 is a bit concerning, but they have moved forward during that time, so we have to assume there was a good reason for the silence. Investors obviously haven’t been put off as RCN was one of the top ten best performing tokens in the first quarter of 2019, gaining more than 175% in the first three months of the year.
That said, price is still less than half the ICO price, so early investors will have some time to wait to recoup their initial investment, and that could cap gains for the token.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.