Uphold, which calls itself a “cloud-based financial services platform,” has added the option to buy XRP, the cryptocurrency of the payment network Ripple.
“There has been huge demand for XRP, and Uphold is one of the first platforms to make XRP easily accessible,” Uphold CEO Adrian Steckel says in a press release.
Huge demand is right. The price of the XRP token skyrocketed 32,377% in 2017. That was the biggest pop of any cryptocurrency last year: Ether rose 8,978%, litecoin rose 4,841%, and bitcoin went up by 1,221%. Of course, all of those coins have since fallen significantly from their highs. XRP is down 74% in 2018.
Ripple, the company, sells blockchain-based payment technology to banks and has signed on more than 100 banking clients to test its rails, including Western Union. Ripple’s token, XRP (which many people call “ripple”), is used as a settlement vehicle in one of its payment products, xRapid. Uphold adding XRP “underscores the significant increase in interest for XRP,” says Ripple’s head of XRP markets Miguel Vias.
Uphold, which has branded itself as a “cloud money vault,” is not a cryptocurrency exchange like Coinbase, but more like a bank for buying and holding different currencies, converting them into other currencies, or sending them to other members internationally.
Uphold users can now buy XRP on the site with zero transaction fees for the first 5 million XRP they buy. They can convert XRP into seven other cryptocurrencies, 23 fiat currencies, and four precious metals. It’s no coincidence that Uphold received $57.5 million in new funding in January from a former Ripple executive.
Uphold has had a colorful history as a fintech company.
The site launched in 2014 under the name Bitreserve, and was founded by CNET founder Halsey Minor. When it first launched, customers had to make their first deposits in bitcoin, but could then convert bitcoin into other currencies when they wanted to withdraw or send money abroad. In 2015, when bitcoin was somewhat out of fashion among mainstream financial types, Bitreserve changed its name to Uphold and began allowing customers to deposit money into their accounts via bank transfer or credit or debit cards.
Now, with cryptocurrencies hot again, the site appears to be embracing crypto: its homepage declares that users can go, “From US dollar to bitcoin in seconds.”
Coinbase, the most popular US-based cryptocurrency brokerage site, does not offer buying and trading of XRP, though many expect that it will add it soon. Binance and Bitstamp are two popular websites for buying XRP; both are based outside the US.
Uphold now holds $143.5 million in its vault (that’s user funds plus Uphold’s own holdings), most of it held in US dollars and bitcoin. XRP becomes the eighth cryptocurrency it offers, joining bitcoin, litecoin, bitcoin cash, bitcoin gold, ether, dash, and BAT.
Daniel Roberts covers bitcoin and blockchain at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.