The crypto industry is a dynamic landscape. New alliances are constantly being formed as companies seek to gain ground on the competition. But allies can also become adversaries, and businesses must invest in the technology and talent that can help them adapt to new developments and shifting trends.
In recent weeks, several powerful enterprises have made it known that they plan to invest aggressively to strengthen their competitive position within the rapidly expanding blockchain industry. In this regard, the following announcements are particularly noteworthy.
Ripple's growth-through-acquisition strategy
Cryptocurrency giant Ripple is on the hunt for more deals. CEO Brad Garlinghouse told Yahoo! Finance UK that the company is considering multiple potential acquisitions and investment opportunities as a means to boost the usage of its payments technology and XRP cryptocurrency token.
"Anything we can do to accelerate our growth and give us more capabilities that serve customer needs is a good place to be," Garlinghouse said.
Ripple is flush with cash from sales of its XRP tokens to exchanges and other financial institutions. Ripple still owns more than half of the total supply of the international payments-focused cryptocurrency -- a stake worth approximately $15 billion. Most of the tokens are locked in escrow, but Ripple sells some on a regular basis, including more than $250 million worth of XRP in the second quarter.
In June, Ripple invested $30 million in MoneyGram International (NASDAQ:MGI) in exchange for a 10% stake in the money-transfer company, along with an option to invest another $20 million in the future. As part of the deal, Moneygram agreed to use Ripple's xRapid product and XRP cryptocurrency to facilitate international payments among its customers.
Garlinghouse said Ripple has invested approximately $500 million in blockchain-related projects -- and that the company is looking for more deals that could help to further increase adoption of its cryptocurrency technology.
"We're in a very strong position, our business is growing strongly, we have a strong balance sheet, and I intend to press our advantage," Garlinghouse said.
Mastercard's hiring spree
Mastercard (NYSE:MA) wants to beef up its blockchain expertise. The Block noted that the digital-payments titan listed several job openings on its website related to blockchain project management. The job listings suggest the company may be gearing up to compete in the cryptocurrency wallet space. A cryptocurrency wallet is a software program that allows users to send and receive digital currency.
The blockchain-focused hirings could also be related to Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) Libra digital currency project. As one of the project's founding members, Mastercard can build applications for the Libra platform. Yet Facebook's plans to develop Libra into a global payment system also make it a potential competitor to Mastercard's credit card network.
With Libra and other cryptocurrency-based payment platforms representing both opportunities and threats, Mastercard is likely to invest considerable resources into bolstering its blockchain capabilities in the years ahead.