The price of Ripple (XRP) has ranged widely over the past month, having declined 40% before recovering slightly. The market cap now stands at US$66.3 billion, with US$235.7 million in trading volume over the past 24 hours. The XRP ledger has processed US$808.6 million in transactions over the same period.
Having launched in 2012, Ripple is designed to provide a frictionless experience when sending money using the power of blockchain. While cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin typically target peer to peer transactions, Ripple targets financial institutions. Banks and payment providers can use the digital asset XRP to reduce their costs and access new markets.
While Ripple announcements often focus on new partners, the company has recently made headlines with philanthropy. In addition to the US$29 million donation to Donor’s Choose in May, Ripple recently donated US$4 million, denominated in Rwandan Francs, to an Ellen Degeneres’ wildlife charity. Ripple has also committed over $50 million to a University Blockchain Research Initiative which will help foster research and innovation at 17 higher learning institutions worldwide.
However, a recent class-action lawsuit is overshadowing the networks growth and the companies donations. The San Francisco-based company created billions of coins “out of thin air,” states the complaint, and then profited by selling them to the public in “what is essentially a never-ending initial coin offering.” The plaintiff, investor Ryan Coffey, is seeking unspecified damages and a declaration that Ripple Labs and Chief Executive Officer Bradley Garlinghouse sold unregistered securities. Coffey is seeking to proceed on behalf of all purchasers of Ripple tokens. Ripple Labs will be represented by former SEC chair Mary Jo White.
Ripple Labs CEO Brad Garlinghouse said, “I think it’s very clear that XRP is not a security, it exists independent of Ripple the company.” Garlinghouse has been an outspoken critic of Bitcoin calling it “slow and expensive” and has also said, “blockchain hype is outpacing the reality.”
Current SEC chair Jay Clayton has continued to dodge the direct question of whether or not XRP represents an unregistered security, but has said: “we are not going to do any violence to the traditional definition of security that has worked for a long time.” Without additional guidance from the SEC regarding cryptocurrencies, crypto assets, or ICO’s, there is likely to be an increase in U.S. litigation surrounding the matter.
In the meantime, Former CTO of Ripple and co-creator of Interledger, Stefan Thomas, has announced the release of Codius, a smart contract platform allowing for interoperability between blockchains, including XRP. The project was originally announced in 2014 while Thomas was working at Ripple Labs, but never got off the ground. Although open-source, Codius will be used by Thomas’ new company, Coil, which aims to develop a subscription-based product for content monetization on the internet, without advertising or selling user data.
On the network side, version 1.0.0 of Rippled server code has been released. The mandatory upgrade introduces minor changes and bug fixes. There network currently consists of 722 public nodes. The top 100 largest XRP accounts hold 81% of the money supply. Ripple, the company, owns about 60% of XRP according to Garlinghouse.
Transactions per day have remained steady, at ~800,000, since mid-April. Transaction fees, which correlate with network traffic, have been minimal compared to other coins, and are currently around US$0.006 for each transaction.
Kalichkin’s 30-day network value to estimated on-chain daily transaction ratio (NVT) has been trending lower since July 2015 (log scale), suggesting transactional use has increased since that time, reaching a low in January. NVT has also recently turned lower, showing evidence for an uptick in transactional value. Although NVT is difficult to compare between coins, which use different transactions types, it can be used to assess the network’s relative utility over time. XRP’s daily NVT remains relatively low based on historical data.
Exchange-traded volume has been led by Tether (USDT) and Bitcoin (BTC) pairs with the Japanese Yen (JPY) and Korean Won (KRW) pairs not far behind. Compared to last week, KRW volume has fallen dramatically. The majority of trading has occurred on Bitbank, Bithumb, and Binance.
Most of the cryptocurrency market has moved in lockstep since January. XRP and Bitcoin price movements have been highly correlated, holding a Pearson coefficient of 0.7246, although the former has outperformed the later in recent weeks.
The status of any existing or emerging trend can be determined using Exponential Moving Averages, chart patterns, Ichimoku Cloud, and Pitchforks. Further background information on the technical analysis discussed below can be found here.
On the two-day chart, the 50/200 Exponential Moving Averages (EMAs) have tightly constricted the price of XRP over the past few months, which also correlates to Bitcoin. A bearish 50/200EMA cross on this time frame would likely result in a significant pullback to the previous consolidation zone around US$0.20. A clean break of the 50EMA on high volume would suggest a retest of resistance levels near the all time high, around US$3.
The two-day chart also shows a multi-month head and shoulders chart pattern, a bullish reversal setup. The hallmarks of this bullish reversal pattern include a descending volume profile and a series of three extreme lows, with the second low exceeding the first and third low. The pattern has a 1.618 fib extension and measured moves of US$1.19 and US$1.47 respectively. Expect volume to increase substantially if price breaks the neckline (red).
On the daily chart, there is a bearish 50/200EMA cross with a lack of any obvious trend direction. Volume has dropped off significantly since December. There are no RSI divergences. Open interest on Bitfinex is currently heavily net long, with longs near record highs (top panel, chart below).
The Ichimoku Cloud metrics on the two-day time frame are heavily bearish; price below Cloud, bearish Cloud, bearish TK cross, and Lagging Span above price and below Cloud. The Cloud uses four metrics; the current price in relation to the Cloud, the color of the Cloud (red for bearish, green for bullish), the Tenkan (T) and Kijun (K) cross, and the Lagging Span. The best entry always occurs when most of the signals flip from bearish to bullish, or vice versa.
Although metrics are clearly bearish, there are potential pathways to a US$1.73 target. A long flat Kumo (white magnet) represents a 50% retracement target for the high and low of the range. The longer XRP remains in a range without making a lower low, the higher the probability that this target will be reached.
The first key resistance level will be the Kijun at US$0.848, which is an optimal short entry target known as a Kijun Bounce. If breached, a bullish TK cross will likely result shortly thereafter and begin the ascent to US$1.73.
The Cloud metrics on the daily chart are essentially the same as the two-day chart, but price is much closer to the Cloud. A traditional long entry will not occur until price is above Cloud, which may or may not occur after a bullish Kumo twist. Based on the Cloud structure, continued ranging until early July is likely.
A Pitchfork on the daily chart with anchor points in May 2017, January 2018, and April 2018 shows the previous local high being rejected at diagonal resistance. Price will continually attempt to return to the median line (yellow) throughout any given trend. A breach of the median, with volume, would suggest a move to the next diagonal resistance.
Lastly, the XRP/BTC pair currently sits in the middle of the historic range, above the 200EMA. High time frame charts are otherwise unremarkable, but there is a bull flag forming on the four hour chart (not shown). If the pair reaches previous all time highs, price will need to range in that zone for an extended period of time to allow for re-accumulation at what is currently heavy resistance.
Ripple Labs has continued to accrue attention grabbing headlines through substantial charitable acts and continuing discussion regarding the status of XRP as a security. Despite being labeled decentralized by Ripple Labs and most of the Ripple community, the network and token distribution suggest the network remains largely centralized. Unlike most other cryptocurrencies, NVT has shown increased utility recently.
Technicals are actively bearish but suggest a potential reversal within the next two months, if not earlier. Trend-based indicators like EMAs and the Ichimoku Cloud have gone flat after an 86% decline, which may signal a re-accumulation period before a move higher. A high probability target of US$1.73 seems likely by the end of 2018, but if the current range makes new lows expect a bearish rally towards US$0.20.