I felt inspired by the change the community is undergoing as we prepare ourselves for 1.0 launch, so I wanted to hype a couple of things I'm excited about.Bitshares beats ripple at ripples own game.
Ripple is such an amazing system because it's the first project in the post-bitcoin world to take blockchain tech and use it to create a focused and strong product, just like a business in any other industry. As we can see on the XRP price, this approach has paid off, even with horrible distribution and a semi-centralized tradeoff in their consensus model. But if you just look at the way ripple actually functions you'll see that it's a genius system regardless. Because transactions speeds are fast and every IOU (ripple user issued asset) is traded for XRP on ripples own decentralized exchange, it's possible to seamlessly get high liquidity for any trading pair by going IOU -> XRP -> IOU in one transaction. XRP thus functions as a kind of liquidity token, and is seeing a high amount of trading now as banks and users begin to actually use the system. Of course the more liquidity XRP trading has, the more attractive it is to use the ripple system as a whole, and thus liquidity attracts even more liquidity. A side effect of increasing liquidity is also a higher XRP price. However, as you will hear again and again from ripple supporters, the price of XRP doesn't actually matter to the systems usefulness, and it's not meant as a currency or store of value.
The reason why bitshares will eventually be more attractive to gateways and users for trading or remittance is because of what actually makes liquidity valuable: low spreads. The more a given IOU/XRP trading pair is being traded, the lower the spread will naturally become. This is also why liquidity attracts more liquidity, people will always prefer to exchange their money at the place with the lowest spreads. But spreads are not determined only by liquidity, they're also determined by volatility. And volatility is why bitshares will beat ripple, and almost certainly become the decentralized exchange of choice in the long run.
While ripples liquidity token XRP is free floating and can experience bubbles just like the one we're observing now, bitshares' liquidity token will most likely be bitUSD. So where on ripple you have to go EUR -> XRP -> JPY to exchange and send someone JPY, with bitshares you can go EUR -> bitUSD -> JPY. As bitUSD liquidity increases, its USD peg becomes stronger to the point where it is essentially 1:1, making the exchange look more like EUR -> USD -> JPY, two trading pairs that have orders of magnitude lower volatility than their XRP equivalents. Incidentally, this is also how all forex trading and transfers are done in the current financial system, since the US dollar in its capacity as world reserve currency also functions as the banking systems "liquidity token".
What this actually means is that even though ripple has a huge headstart against bitshares when it comes to liquidity, in the long run their system needs dramatically more liquidity to keep their spreads lower than bitshares, to account for the massive difference in the volatility of XRP compared to bitUSD. However I still think we're still a quite a while off before we can fully compete with ripple on convenience, because right now I don't think it's possible to do several market orders in a single bitshares transaction (and thus jump 2 pairs in one block, making our transaction speed competitive). There shouldn't be anything keeping us from implementing trading jumps in some form in the long run, and then gobble up ripples entire market. Nom.Bitmail is a pretty big deal
So I honestly still don't fully understand how bitmail even works, but I won't let that stop me from claiming it's a big deal and probably the most overlooked thing in bitshares right now. The reason is pretty simple, secure communication is in high demand. There are many systems currently in existence but they all have one of two problems: either they are a traditional secure email service like lavabit that can interface with the existing email system but can never be provably secure. Or they're a new system like bitmessage that is fully secure but is isolated from the rest of the internet.
Bitmail is in the same category as bitmessage, but with the advantage that it has a pretty clear business model: it will be developed to perfection by well paid delegates since it is integral infrastructure for the bitshares system itself.
But Bitmail has the capability to also become fully integrated with the existing email infrastructure because there is an economic incentive for email "gateways" to be created (if nothing else they will be run by delegates). An email gateway would basically function as a remailer that receives a bitmail with an email address in it, and then sends the message on to that email. Or it receives an email with a bitshares key in it and sends the email to that key as a bitmail. To make it even more seamless, but at the cost of turning the system pseudonomous, bitmail senders could reveal their bitshares key to the mail gateway service when sending their first email, and the service would be able to instantly create a [email protected]
email address for that specific bitshares key, meaning that email recipients of a bitmail would be able to simply click reply to directly respond to the emails they received. From their perspective it would be just like receiving any other email. This means that once the system is properly polished adopting bitmail will be no different than adopting gmail. The transition can be seamless and you can keep all your contacts when you begin to use the new system, with the added benefit that you can now also do secure communication inside the bitshares network.
(Now... Don't forget that since I don't actually know how bitmail works there could be some technical detail that renders all my babbling wrong)