Garlinghouse’s company sells the software to banks to let them transact on blockchain, which means he spends a lot of his time reassuring people that the Silk Road days are over.
Terms like “bitcoin” and “cryptocurrency” used to be linked with techno-anarchists who wanted an anonymous way to sell drugs and weapons on the internet, via online marketplaces like the Silk Road. So Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse was encouraged when regular people started speculating in tokens a few years ago.
“That’s actually forward progress,” he said on the latest episode of Recode Decode with Kara Swisher. “You went from illicit activity to speculation, and today you’re going from speculation to utility.”
Part of Garlinghouse’s job is to convince legitimate financial institutions — including banking goliaths like Citibank and Deutsche Bank — that crypto is an inevitable part of their industry’s future, albeit maybe not their immediate future. Ripple sells software to those institutions to let them transact on blockchain, which may one day give them access to the billions of “unbanked” people who currently lack a convenient way of moving that money across borders.
So unlike the earliest adopters of bitcoin, Garlinghouse has no interest in ensuring that crypto holders can always remain anonymous. And he doesn’t expect that legacy institutions such as banks and governments will be obliterated by the new technology.
“We want to change the system by working with the system,” he said. “These are profound technologies that can really benefit society in lots of ways. We can reduce the friction of global commerce, we can allow people globally more access to the economies around the world to compete. I think that’s actually a really good thing.”
Date: May 23, 2019