Leaders Series: Monica Long at Ripple
Issue 43 — March 16, 2018
Monica Long is the SVP of Marketing at Ripple
She’s been on the Ripple team since 2013, and has been through many of the ups and downs of the cryptocurrency ecosystem and the blockchain industry over the years. Monica is the driving force behind Ripple’s messaging and marketing, and helps translate the technical details of how their products work into easy to understand concepts.
How did you get dragged into the crazy world of Ripple all the way back in 2013? It was still a pretty obscure project at that time.
I worked with Chris Larsen (co-founder and executive chairman of Ripple) when he was the CEO of Prosper. In August 2013, I’d noticed he started something new (Ripple) and I dropped him a line to catch up.
From that first conversation, I knew this technology had revolutionary potential, but I’ll admit I didn’t totally understand it! It took a few conversations and a lot of deep thinking to understand how it works and how we could apply it to solve real world problems. (The truth is I keep learning every day.)
From that meeting, I knew I wanted to join the team at Ripple for two reasons. Firstly — Chris is a true visionary. He was a pioneer in online mortgage lending with E-Loan and again in peer-to-peer lending with Prosper and was a driving force in both categories taking flight. He’s a good person to follow, given his knack for finding disruptive ideas early on.
Secondly — the common thread to Chris’ ventures has been the democratization of finance in some respect. Ripple is no different. Having a background studying third-world development, I am deeply passionate about Ripple’s ability to increase access to global commerce worldwide, and the life-changing impact that will have.
What did you do before you got into this?
I was at Intuit on the corporate communications team and before that at a tech PR agency.
What problem is Ripple solving, and why do you feel passionate about this?
At Ripple, our mission is to remove friction from global payments. International payments have earned the reputation of being slow, unreliable and expensive. In fact, they’re prohibitively expensive for entire segments of the population. If global payments are instant, reliable, easy and low-cost, they become so much more accessible to everyone — especially in underserved markets.
To draw a comparison, the Internet made information exchange instant, reliable, easy and low-cost. By breaking down borders and barriers, it’s connected the entire world and enabled previously impossible or unthinkable businesses and opportunities.
We have the opportunity to enable a new era in commerce that holds revolutionary possibility. It’s a tough problem to solve but incredibly inspiring and rewarding to work on.
What’s been the most inspiring experience you’ve had at Ripple thus far? You’ve been around to see most of the company’s history.
I’m most inspired by big customer milestones. It was a watershed moment for us when our first institutional customers went live in production and sent their customers’ payments across the network. Another big moment was when the first institutional customer went live with payments through XRP. In both cases, we had happy customers who have increased volume and usage over time.
As an example, SBI Remit and Siam Commercial Bank went live in production with Ripple-powered payments last summer. SBI Remit’s customers are Thai ex-patriates living and working in Japan. In many cases, they’re supporting families back home in Thailand so it’s important their funds arrive quickly and reliably.
That real market validation of our products and value propositions is incredibly rewarding and motivates us to keep building.
What are some ideas you’re excited about in the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem, and why?
I think interoperability is a critical design principle to an Internet of Value (an Internet that allows money to move around the world like information already does), and needs greater attention from the industry.
Our engineering team works a lot on the interoperability of systems — be they blockchains or traditional. We’re seeing scalability limitations stunt the growth and possibilities of Bitcoin and Ethereum. We developed the Interledger Protocol, which is totally open-source and free, to enable instant transactions across any number of ledgers without risk of failure.
As you think about the rapid pace at which this industry moves, what do you think happens over the next few years? And what about longer term?
In the next couple of years, we’ll see a culling of the herd in crypto. It’s fantastic to see the whole market grow so rapidly with lots of developers getting involved. But not every new coin and new system has a well-defined and validated use case. Of the 1,500 or so cryptocurrencies in existence, I think many will go away and the strong will survive.
Over a 10–20 year time horizon, I think blockchain and crypto will be the technology drivers of a new industrial revolution. The most obvious implication is likely greater global commerce and financial inclusion. But there’ll be far-reaching progress and change we can’t even imagine today. Think of how different the world is because of the cotton gin, the shipping container, the Internet. Blockchain and crypto are innovations of that significance.
Thanks to Monica for participating! Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Editor’s Note: The editor of this post, Meltem Demirors, holds XRP.