Ripple 101 | What is Ripple?

International Payments at Lightning Speeds

Ripple is both a cryptocurrency and a financial system that allows users to send payments across various networks. “Ripple” refers to both the payment network and the digital currency, also known as XRP, which uses the network. Ripple claims to offer faster international transaction processing and use less electricity than rival Bitcoin; it processes 1,000 transactions per second, and settles an international payment in approximately three seconds, according to CEO Brad Garlinghouse. Along with its own XRP, the Ripple network can process any currency, from USD and rupees to gold and airline miles. Ripple is currently the third largest cryptocurrency in the world, after Bitcoin and Ethereum, with around $10.5 billion in market cap.

Ripple’s Story: How Did It Start?

Ripple started out as Ripplepay, a financial service developed in 2004 by Ryan Fugger, a web developer in Vancouver. The first version of the system appeared as in 2005. Development of the current digital currency system and XRP began in 2011, and in 2012, OpenCoin was founded and began developing the current iteration of the Ripple protocol. OpenCoin later changed its name to Ripple Labs Inc., which in 2014 began to focus on working with financial institutions. In late 2014, XRP experienced a surge in price of more than 200%, allowing Ripple to overtake competitor litecoin in market cap.

How Is Ripple Built and How Is It Different from Bitcoin?

XRP is not mined the way Bitcoin is. Instead, transactions through Ripple are verified by consensus among members of the network using the Ripple Consensus Ledger, a permissioned network. This means that participants in the network can restrict its use, improving performance. The massive capacity of the Ripple Consensus Ledger is also a factor that allows fast transaction settlements, compared to both traditional payments and competitors like Bitcoin.

Ripple is cryptographically secure, and has adopted an open protocol called Interledger. The use of Interledger allows Ripple to bridge different networks, ledgers, and blockchains; this functionality contributes to Ripple’s real-time settlement capabilities by bypassing the need to wait for other systems to settle.

Ripple Use Cases: Banks and International Payments

Banks wanting lightning-speed international settlements are Ripple’s primary users. On April 26, 2017, Yahoo Finance reported that 75 banks had adopted Ripple’s network, including Bank of America; BBVA in Spain; SEB in Sweden; and a consortium of 47 banks in Japan. It’s worth noting that since Ripple’s network can transfer any currency, bank involvement does not indicate use of the XRP currency (although doing so lowers fees). Financial institutions and payment providers can offer Ripple as an added value for individual customers, corporations, and partner banks.

A focus on services for banks differentiates Ripple from other cryptocurrencies used primarily for peer-to-peer transactions, but it also holds appeal for retail consumers. A user can send or receive an international payment with instant settlement and transaction status tracking, allowing them to avoid the wait times, fees, and risks associated with traditional wire transfers.

How To Buy Ripple

  1. Head over to one of these currency-to-crytpo exchanges and purchase Bitcoin (or Litecoin or Ethereum if available).
  2. Once you have your Bitcoin (or other cryptocurrency), send your Bitcoin to your wallet on a crypto trade exchange such as Poloniex, Kraken, Bitfinex, or GDAX to name a few.  Here you can buy Ripple (XRP) or any other cryptocurrency being traded on that exchange.
  3. Download an wallet or any other reputable wallet to store your coins in.  Oftentimes the coin’s site will feature the best wallet for its currency.