Today the world of digital currencies is not only about Bitcoin. Indeed, world`s first cryptocurrency still remains the most popular and significantly dominates on the market. However, among more than 1500 other virtual coins there are some rather interesting and attractive alternatives. One of these would certainly be Ripple.
Though Ripple was launched in 2012, the project itself is actually older than Bitcoin. Yet in 2004 Ryan Fugger developed an initial protocol of a decentralized network for global exchange and money transfers. The aim was to provide easy and fast transactions. Today it’s four seconds comparing to minutes with Ethereum, hours with Bitcoin and days with many traditional systems. On Ripple’s official website it is mentioned that “in a world where three billion people are connected online, cars drive themselves and appliances can communicate, global payments are still stuck in the disco era”. The reason for that lies in the infrastructure of global payments that was created before the Internet and hasn’t changed a lot since then.
So what’s Ripple’s solution? It’s as much as connecting banks, payment services, digital asset exchanges and other financial institutions to provide quick and secure opportunity to send money worldwide. Ripple is actually a global agent that enables people to store and send any kind of currency or just any kind of value that at least a group of people demand. In Bitcoin Magazine Vitalik Buterin writes that Ripple`s initial idea was based on a chain of trust where all debts are between people who have an established trust relationship and so trust each other to pay back as needed. By using such a chain of trust, money can change hands even between people who do not know each other at all.
Today Ripple is a universal payment system that allows making transactions with any currency. Project`s cryptocurrency called XRP is an “agent-currency” in the network. Today it’s world’s third digital coin by market capitalization, and, unlike its “colleges”, it costs less than a dollar. XRP do not require mining, all 100 billion coins were issued when the project was launched. They are gradually becoming available by means of smart contracts.
Who stands behind the project? There are Jed McCaleb, founder of MtGox exchange, bitcoin-developer Stefan Thomas, and Chris Larsen – Ripple`s CEO. Nearly a half of all XRP transactions are made in South Korea, where the coin is actively traded on Coinone and Bithumb exchanges.
Ripple cooperates with banks and financial institutions that are interested in its fast transactions and low fees. The project is trying to seamlessly democratize and advance the whole system of international payments. This is a universal platform for currency exchange and global transactions, and traditional financial sector is ready to cooperate with it.
So, Ripple has accomplished a lot and is fairly promising. It’s definitely not just another cryptocurrency, but probably a very efficient solution for those who want to enjoy all crypto-advantages – security, anonymity, smart contracts, etc. – but don’t want to deal with Bitcoin volatility and uncertain legal nature.