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What is Ripple (XRP)

Understanding the blockchain-based payment protocol and its potential to revolutionize cross-border payments.

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A common go-to for investors looking to diversify their crypto portfolios, Ripple is arguably one of the most interesting cryptocurrencies. With plenty of controversies and headline visibility, Ripple is pioneering a new path for cryptocurrencies and receiving as much acclaim as it is backlash. Let’s explore what is Ripple (XRP) and why it’s often caught in the spotlight.

What Is Ripple (XRP)?

When understanding what Ripple is it is necessary to understand the three pillars:

  1. Ripple Labs is the company managing the various products available.
  2. RippleNet is the network that facilitates global payments between financial institutions that operate on top of the distributed ledger database called XRP Ledger.
  3. XRP is the cryptocurrency fueling the network and providing a more cost-effective and faster means of transacting money.  

In essence, Ripple is a digital payments platform that facilitates faster and cheaper international payment settlement, remittance systems, and asset exchange. The company provides several products catering to a wide range of financial institutions, essentially building a bridge between the blockchain world and the traditional financial sector. 

Ripple is not based on blockchain technology, and instead uses proprietary distributed ledger technology. It was designed to provide a digital monetary payment alternative to the likes of SWIFT, catering to international and remittance markets.

What is XRP?

Launched in 2013, 100 billion XRP were minted and to date 52 billion are in circulation. These coins remain in the custody of the company and are released into the system gradually (using a different mechanism to mining). 

While XRP is the native coin to the XRP Ledger, the distributed ledger technology can facilitate transactions in multiple currencies. XRP is used to provide a quick conversion between currencies.

History of XRP

Ripple was first conceived as an online payments company in 2004 by Ryan Fugger in Vancouver. Several years later and with the advent of cryptocurrencies, two developers approached Fugger to merge their concepts and create a cryptocurrency of their own. As a result, OpenCoin was established in 2012 by Chris Larsen and Jed McCaleb, with Fugger on the team. 

In September 2013, OpenCoin became Ripple Labs, which was later rebranded to Ripple in 2015. A year later, the company received one of four Bitlicences, a licence required by the state of New York to provide virtual currency activities.

How does Ripple work?

Ripple uses a more complex means of maintaining the network, dissimilar to how other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum operate. The RippleNet’s ledger is essentially maintained by the XRP community and can process transactions every 3-5 seconds. 

The network is made up of independent validator nodes which verify transactions through a consensus. These nodes are typically made up of a long list of financial institutions, universities and companies outside of the blockchain realm. 

The payment system provides products and services to payment companies around the world and has been integrated into banking systems to improve outdated fiat processes. 

For instance, Ripples’s xCurrent technology was used to launch One Pay FX, a mobile app for international payments from the Spanish banking group Santander. It was also used to power MoneyTap, a mobile app in Japan that effectively connected 61 banks on a mobile app to facilitate domestic payments. Ripple’s products are consistently being implemented around the world. 

Ripple and the SEC

In 2020 one of the biggest lawsuits in the crypto world was ignited when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a lawsuit against Ripple and two executives claiming that they violated investor protection laws. The SEC barred all US exchanges from trading XRP immediately, and a lengthy court case began. 

The court case revolves around whether Ripple is a security, with the SEC claiming the company unlawfully raised $1.3 billion in an unregistered security offering. As the case continues, each party has had their fair share of triumphs and blows, and the case is set to create a precedent for future cryptocurrency trials of similar nature.

This landmark case has been significant in the crypto world due to its potential implications for other cryptocurrencies. If the SEC's view that XRP is a security, rather than a currency, prevails, then other digital currencies could also potentially be classified as securities, subjecting them to additional regulation.

In a recent ruling in the three year case, the U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres ruled that XRP was “not necessarily a security on its face,” partially contradicting the SEC’s claims, and that the company did not break federal securities laws by selling XRP on public exchanges.

The recent decision made by Torres marked the first major triumph for a cryptocurrency firm in a lawsuit filed by the SEC. However, it is important to note that the SEC also achieved a partial success in the case with the judge stating that a portion of the token sales to institutional buyers did qualify as securities transactions.

While the SEC reviews the rulings, Ripple Chief Executive Brad Garlinghouse said that the ruling was "a huge win for Ripple but more importantly for the industry overall in the U.S." 

Ripple vs Bitcoin

When comparing XRP with the first and biggest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, one must understand their different use cases.

Bitcoin was designed to provide the world with a digital peer-to-peer payment system and store of value while XRP was designed to facilitate international transactions providing a faster and cheaper alternative to fiat transactions. 

While Bitcoin was created to be decentralized and exempt from government and banking controls, Ripple is designed to include the centralized banking sectors in the benefits of the cryptocurrencies and provide them with the services to facilitate these benefits. 

While Bitcoin uses the process of mining through a Proof-of-Work consensus, Ripple uses a network of validators that are established outside of the cryptosphere. Its consensus system is designed to make transaction verification faster and, in the process, uses less energy.

How To Buy XRP

If you’re interested in incorporating XRP into your crypto portfolio, look no further than Tap. As a recent addition to the Tap mobile app, XRP can be bought, sold, traded and stored on the app securely and conveniently.


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