To progress from an emerging to a mainstream technology, a technology must prove value, scalability, and economic viability. Based on analysis of survey results in Ripple’s Blockchain in Payments Report 2019, the use of blockchain in payments is delivering value to both providers and their customers and is scaling in production (note: I was a contributor to the report). In addition, it is showing signs of economic viability, that is, network effect and profitability. An indicator of viability is when adoption crosses the chasm between early adopters and early majority. This third proof point is the most challenging because it requires firms to believe a technology is superior to other technologies.
In 2018 and 2019, Ripple surveyed people active in payment services worldwide (676 respondents in 2018 and 1,053 in 2019). The questions in the survey were designed to gauge indicators of value, scalability, and viability. Regarding value, the 2019 survey showed a sharp increase in respondents’ payments ambitions and interest in blockchain to realize their ambitions. Not only did the 2019 respondents see greater market opportunities, the vast majority of them−97% compared to 83% in 2018−are either implementing or evaluating blockchain technology to capture these opportunities.
In terms of scalability, early movers are proving that the technology is working. The growth spurt in blockchain adoption for payments over the past two years supports this statement with 35% of 2019 respondents stating that they are in production. Moreover, there are case examples, such as Santander One Pay FX.
“Customers who were not doing international transfers are now using the service, customers who were using international transfers are now doing it more, and customers who had gone to use fintech competition have come back because of the One Pay offering,” says Cedric Menager, CEO of One Pay FX, Santander’s mobile app powered by RippleNet.
To gauge viability, mapping adoption along a bell curve is insightful. The adoption bell curve distinguishes five stages of adoption: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. The pivotal moment in the lifespan of an emerging technology is whether or not its adoption will cross the chasm between early adopters and early majority, that is, adoption moves above 20%. The striking findings of the 2019 report are that 35% of respondents are in production and 27% say they are nearing production. Of those in production, 68% say they deployed during the past two years. Within the 68%, a second wave of adopters is visible: 23% have made the move during the past year while 45% moved two years ago.
The Adoption Chasm
These early adopters are deploying blockchain incrementally, beginning with the strongest use case. For example in remittances, they typically begin with one or two corridors in which they have faced challenges such as pre-funding. Based on performance results, they extend to additional corridors and use cases. Early indicators show that SME payment services are a rising use case.
2020 is a critical year for blockchain in payments adoption. If the majority of the 27% of respondents stating that they are nearing production move into production, adoption will have clearly hit the mainstream tipping point.
To learn more about the findings, see Ripple's Blockchain in Payments Report 2019 .