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Ripple 101 – understanding XRP and the Ripple network

Ripple (XRP) is a centralised cryptocurrency, that aims to make it faster and cheaper to send money around the world. While most cryptocurrencies try to get far far away from governments, banks, any form of central control, Ripple is the opposite. Ripple is trying to work with the old school banking system to change the way international payments work.

What’s good about Ripple?

  • Fast – 4sec (compared to 2min for etherum, 10min+ for Bitcoin, and 1-5 days for traditional cross-border payments)
  • Scalable – can (theoretically) scale to handle same volumes as the Visa network 
  • Cheap – currently it costs 0.00001 XRP (just fractions of a cent) to send a payment on the network

What is Ripple?

The structure around Ripple is more complicated than most cryptocurrencies, and “Ripple” can actually mean a few different things: 

  1. First there’s Ripple the currency, or XRP as its known for trading
  2. Then there’s the privately held company behind the currency, known as Ripple Labs
  3. Finally there are the Ripple networks, or the infrastructure and systems created by Ripple Labs. These are known as XCurrent, XVia and XRapid and they all do different things.

So when we talk about buying “Ripple” what do we actually mean? We’re talking about buying XRP. It’s interesting to note that Ripple Labs holds 60% of all XRP, and the founders of Ripple own 20%. So only 20% of XRP is actually out there on the market.

What does it mean to be “centralised”?

Ripple is built on blockchain technology, just like Bitcoin. Unlike Bitcoin, however, Ripple is centralised. This means that only a limited number of users/computers (known as “nodes”) can validate the transactions on the network. The Ripple network has 55 nodes, and these nodes are appointed by Ripple Labs. For comparison, there are no limits on the number of nodes on the Bitcoin network, and anyone can opt-in to be a Bitcoin node.

What’s the outlook for Ripple?

Ripple has had a wild ride, going from an all-time high of USD$3.29 in January 2018 to just USD$0.45 in April 2018 and the future outlook for Ripple is anyone’s guess. The size of the international payments pie is enormous, and due to network effects, the blockchain solution that gets there first would be capturing a large and valuable market. So the potential for Ripple is significant.

However, for XRP to sky-rocket again, Ripple Labs will need to gain traction with the banks, ward off competitors such as  Stellar Lumens and SWIFT, and clarify exactly how XRP forms part of its payment solution.

It’s definitely an interesting cryptocurrency, and one that sparks significant debate between Ripple’s fans and detractors. And of course, if you do want to buy Ripple, Stellar or other cryptocurrencies, you can do that right here.

 

This article is not financial advice. It is purely for information only and is based on the author’s understanding and research, but we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any statements made. We strongly recommend that you do your own due diligence before purchasing any cryptocurrencies, and make sure that you are fully aware of the risks involved. 

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