The Fintech Effect

‘Blockchain tourists’ are making nothing more than science experiments, Ripple CEO says

Key Points
  • Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse said too many people are using blockchain "as a buzzword"
  • "Blockchain tourists" are littering the space with concepts which could be better served as databases, he said
Brad Garlinghouse, chief executive officer Ripple
Tony Avelar | Bloomberg | Getty Images

There are too many blockchain "tourists" using the term as a "buzzword" rather than developing real world use cases, the chief executive of cryptocurrency start-up Ripple has said.

"Blockchain is like the new big data or AI (artificial intelligence) — too many people are using it as a buzzword and not focused solving a real problem," Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse said on the question-and-answer (Q&A) site Quora Tuesday.

"We like to call them blockchain tourists! There are many applications that are nothing more than science experiments."

Blockchain — or distributed ledger technology — is the software that underpins digital currencies like bitcoin and Ripple's own XRP token.

Distributed ledgers are decentralized networks which aren't governed by any central authority. They maintain groupings of data across a vast network of computers via encrypted "blocks".

Real world applications

Some notable names have developed their own use cases of the technology recently, some veering away from the initial aim of blockchain as a financial tool.

What is Blockchain?
What is Blockchain?

for example has not only built a blockchain for major global banks such as and ; it also developed a blockchain-based solution for the food ecosystem that allows producers to trace food contamination in a matter of seconds.

Accounting giant EY also unveiled its own distributed ledger solution for the shipping insurance industry last month.

But Ripple's Garlinghouse said that some blockchain concepts — which he didn't name — would be better served for something as simple as a database.

"Some of the uses being implemented for blockchain could actually work better with a database," he said.

"There are examples out there that blockchain is not most applicable for and that is why Ripple is focused on a real world use case, solving a real (and very large) customer problem, which has converted into commercial traction that is unmatched in the enterprise blockchain space."

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