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Ripple (XRP) is the 2nd largest market cap coin. It is a payment protocol that functions as a payment system, currency exchange and a remittance network and works with fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies, and commodities. Ripple uses a shared public ledger like the Bitcoin blockchain and holds balances as well as buy and sell orders, which makes it the first distributed exchange. Changes in the ledger are reached through a process known as consensus.
Ripple’s infancy began in 2004 with the creation of RipplePay by creator Ryan Fugger. In 2011, Jed McCaleb conceived of a new system which was to be built by Arthur Britto and David Schwartz. This new system was designed to be faster and use less energy than Bitcoin. From there, the team approached Fugger. After a long term debate with established members of the community, Fugger handed control over to McCaleb and his team. In 2012, OpenCoin, Inc. was formed.
OpenCoin began development and received early investments from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures. This is about the time they began incorporating Bitcoin into the mix, with what they titled the Bitcoin Bridge. It allowed anyone to send a payment in any currency to a Bitcoin address.
Since then, Ripple has been focused on expanding into the banking market. This has been a source of much debate. Ripple is moving more and more into compliance with FinCEN and other regulatory boards. Adding to the debate is the controversy over the security of Ripple’s “consensus”.
XRP are currently divisible to 6 decimal places, and the smallest unit is called a drop with 1 million drops equaling 1 XRP. There were 100 billion XRP created at Ripple’s inception, with no more allowed to be created according to the protocol’s rules. As such, the system was designed so XRP is a scarce asset with decreasing available supply. Not dependent on any third party for redemption, XRP is the only currency in the Ripple network that does not entail counterparty risk, and it is the only native digital asset. The other currencies in the Ripple network are debt instruments (i.e. liabilities), and exist in the form of balances. Users of the Ripple network are not required to use XRP as a store of value or a medium of exchange. You can learn more about Ripple at their website, https://ripple.com, or at Wikipedia.
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