The University of Luxembourg today announced its participation in the University Blockchain Research Initiative, a multi-year, multi-million-euro research programme funded by Ripple, a provider of leading enterprise blockchain solutions for global payments. Ripple's donation will support research to develop the network communications necessary for micropayments, which promise to change the way we consume content on the Internet.
"Users currently pay for web content either through subscriptions or with their data, through exposure to advertising," says Prof. Radu State, who is leading the research at the University's Interdisciplinary Centre for Security Reliability and Trust (SnT). "There's currently no cost effective, practical way for people to pay per second to listen to music, access quality journalism or watch a film. But micropayments will allow us to pay as we consume, using tiny fractions of a cent that don't impact our budget."
Prof. State and his team intend to make such micropayments a reality through Interledger, an open suite of protocols for sending money directly over the Internet, regardless of currency. Interledger uses a network of "connectors" - each making exchanges in at least two crypto or fiat currencies - to allow people to route money seamlessly across the Internet and across financial barriers.
For the money to find the cheapest route from source to destination, however, thousands of connectors will need to exchange continuous information about their exchange fees and liquidity. One of SnT's contributions will be to define how connectors exchange this information dynamically, allowing millions of payments per second to take the cheapest route through the network. "Connectors will make money by playing on exchange rates, and since cryptocurrencies are highly volatile we need to ensure that the network copes with this inherent instability," says State.
The possibility of sending money as easily we send data has major implications for the way we pay for content on the Internet. "I think that most people would rather pay for good content rather than sacrificing their privacy and having to put up with unwanted adverts," says Jean-Louis Schiltz, Honorary Professor at SnT and representative of the Interledger Foundation in Luxembourg. "With the Internet, we send data to one another regardless of whether we are on wifi, broadband or DSL. With the support of Ripple, SnT's aim is to put the network communications in place to achieve the same thing with money, whether we work in euros, dollars or one of the hundreds of cryptocurrencies."
Pierre Gramegna, Luxembourg's Minister of Finance, comments: "In a world in which an ever increasing share of content consumption takes place online, SnT's project on micropayments, based on Ripple's Interledger technology, has the potential to significantly improve the way users pay for digital and online content. With the SnT celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year, this new project is yet more proof of the interdisciplinary centre's important role in Luxembourg's innovation ecosystem, including in the area of financial services."
"The team at the University of Luxembourg is working on core research topics, such as optimizing Interledger routing and the design of Interledger connectors, to enable individuals to send payments over the Internet," said Evan Swartz, Co-Inventor of the Interledger Protocol and Lead Engineer at Xpring. "They have a unique combination of experience in traditional computer networking and blockchain technologies, and I'm excited to get more networking experts to work on Interledger."
"We are honored to partner with the University of Luxembourg as they are working to make micropayments a reality," said Eric van Miltenburg, SVP of Global Operations at Ripple. "Academia has traditionally been a critical driver of technical innovation. Last year, we launched The University Blockchain Research Initiative to support the unique role universities will play in advancing our understanding and application of cryptography and blockchain technology."
Ripple's University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) launched in 2018, and the University of Luxembourg was one of 17 leading Universities initially selected. Today, Ripple is working over 30 academic partners globally to help them identify research, technical projects and other academic activities in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payments.