Cryptocurrencies
31
Dec
ripple xrp

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What is XRP?

XRP is a cryptocurrency launched by the technology company Ripple. The history of Ripple and XRP began in 2011 when Jed McCaleb started to develop an entirely new consensus model. Since 2020, Ripple’s lawsuit has been the most significant topic of conversation regarding Ripple and the XRP token.

XRP Ledger (XRPL) is an open blockchain and payment system that uses XRP as its native token. The XRP Ledger was initially built as a payment network, but the ecosystem has lately expanded toward smart contracts. Ripple has become known for its solutions in the banking world.

From an XRP investor’s point of view, Ripple’s future looks better than it has in years.

What is XRP?

XRP is a cryptocurrency launched by the technology company Ripple. It entered the market in 2013, making it one of the oldest cryptocurrencies. XRP serves as the native currency of the XRP Ledger, a blockchain developed by Ripple.

XRP Ledger enables speedy and cheap transactions. Sending XRP only takes a few seconds, and transaction costs are just fractions of cents. The technology of the XRP Ledger is made possible by the consensus algorithm RPCA developed by Ripple.

Ripple is an American technology company that has become known for its solutions in banking and finance. It also uses the XRP Ledger in its solutions.

Here is basic information about XRP:

FeatureInfo
Category Payment network
Ticker XRP
Circulating supply 35 billion XRP
Max supply 100 billion XRP
All-time high (date) $3.84 (4 Jan, 2018)
All-time low (date) $0.002802 (7 July, 2014)

Follow the price of XRP from this page: XRP price.

XRP was initially listed on crypto exchanges under the name Ripple. This caused a lot of confusion between Ripple and XRP. Ripple tried to remedy the situation a few years ago by simply calling the token XRP, which is also its ticker. Despite this, the coin is still called Ripple in some crypto exchanges.

XRP has been one of the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization since the 2017 bull market.

The History of XRP and Ripple

The history of Ripple and XRP began in 2011 when Jed McCaleb started to develop an entirely new consensus model. In 2012, Chris Larsen and Arthur Britto also joined. Chris Larsen is often named the founder of Ripple, along with McCaleb.

McCaleb and Larsen contacted Ryan Fugger next. He has been developing the concept of a payment protocol called RipplePay since 2004. As a result, a company called Opencoin was born in September 2012 and rebranded the following year to the name Ripple Labs.

The XRP Ledger was launched in 2013. It was first called the Ripple Consensus Ledger. At the same time, the XRP token was created as its native currency. As many as 80 billion XRP tokens were handed to the Ripple company, and 20 billion were distributed among the founders.

Ripple Labs changed its name to Ripple in 2015. The company’s CEO is Brad Garlinghouse, one of the most famous faces in the crypto world. Chief developer David Schwartz (pictured) has acted as Ripple’s frontman regarding technology since the beginning.

The founder, Jed McCaleb, is also known in the crypto world. He was also the founder of the infamous Mt. Gox exchange. The hack of Mt. Gox is still today one of the worst events that has ever hit the crypto industry.

McCaleb is no longer on Ripple’s development team. In 2014, he founded an association called Stellar and started developing the Stellar Lumens cryptocurrency. His exit was not pretty; you can read more about it in the Stellar Lumens guide.

Ripple first came to the general public’s attention during the cryptocurrency boom 2017. Since then, the XRP token has been in the top 10 list of cryptocurrencies. Over the years, XRP has gained a downright fanatical following. XRP has the most significant fan base in the crypto sector, right after Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The Ripple vs. SEC case

Since 2020, Ripple’s lawsuit has been the most significant topic of conversation regarding Ripple and the XRP token. The legal process began in December 2020 when the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Ripple’s leaders—the SEC charged Brad Garlinghouse and Chris Larsen with issuing an illegal security.

The background to the SEC charges was a dispute over the definition of security. For example, stocks and ETFs are securities in the United States. They can only be purchased from platforms specialized in securities trading, and in addition, every securities issuer must register with the SEC.

Cryptocurrencies are in a gray area for now. The XRP litigation started from the SEC’s view that XRP is a security.

It was the SEC’s first significant attack on the crypto sector. The SEC’s activity in this area has intensified since the collapse of the FTX exchange in 2022. The SEC has subsequently attacked other companies and cryptocurrencies as well.

The SEC’s attack was naturally a hard blow in Ripple’s direction, but the company decided to defend itself immediately. According to Brad Garlinghouse, the Ripple lawsuit was the only option:

Chris and I had the option to settle separately. We could do that, and it would all be behind us. NOT happening. That’s how confident Chris and I are that we are right. We will aggressively fight – and prove our case – through this case we will get clear rules of the road for the industry here in the U.S. We are not only on the right side of the law, but we will be on the right side of history (source: Ripple)

There weren’t any viable alternatives. Had Ripple decided to settle, it would have almost certainly led to XRP being classified as a security, which would have killed the XRP token trading in U.S. crypto exchanges.

Due to this lawsuit, the price of XRP crashed over 50 percent in December 2020. It has also resulted in all major U.S. exchanges delisting the token. These exchanges don’t want to risk being charged by the SEC should Ripple lose the case. Some global exchanges, like eToro and Crypto.com, followed suit.

Ripple’s big win in court

Ripple’s trial lasted over two and a half years without significant wins. Ripple managed to get some concessions, but the SEC’s army of lawyers effectively blocked any bigger gains.

In the summer of 2023, we finally received good news. On Thursday, July 13, 2023, a verdict was announced, according to which XRP is not a security! In the judge’s opinion, the sales of XRP on exchanges were not illegal securities trading either.

This is how Ripple’s CLO, Stuart Alderoty, commented on the matter in X.

The court decision was a massive win for Ripple and led to a sharp rise in the price of XRP. The price of XRP rocketed as much as 85 percent right after the news! US exchanges such as Coinbase and Kraken added XRP back to their lists just a few hours after the incident.

However, it is good to note that it was not the final whistle for the process. It was the so-called “summary judgment” by one judge and not a trial in front of a jury (trial in English).

In October 2023, Chris Larsen and Brad Garlinghouse won another victory when the SEC completely dropped the charges against them. After this, there is only a smaller dispute between the SEC and the Ripple company, but the XRP token is no longer threatened.

The win was a huge relief for XRP investors. If the XRP lawsuit had led to a different outcome, it would have had a crushing effect on the XRP price.

The XRP Ledger

XRP Ledger (XRPL) is an open blockchain and payment system that uses XRP as its native token. XRP is used to pay transaction fees in the XRP Ledger. Although already over ten years old, the XRP Ledger is technically as good as other fast blockchains.

Below is an image from xrpl.org.

xrp ledger

With the latest updates, the XRP Ledger can handle approximately 3400 transactions per second with a block time of just a few seconds. Transaction costs are only fractions of a cent, i.e., almost free. This is achieved using RPCA (Ripple Protocol Consensus Algorithm), a consensus algorithm developed by Ripple.

It is a blockchain developed to be a pure payment system. The same goes for Stellar, which was mentioned in the history section.

XRP Ledger is technically different from almost all other cryptocurrencies. The XRP Ledger is not a Proof of Work blockchain like Bitcoin, where miners maintain the blockchain and are rewarded with bitcoins. It is also not a Proof of Stake blockchain like Ethereum, where validators receive block rewards through staking.

Why would anyone want to become a validator and support the XRP Ledger? The validators do not even receive transaction fees, the share of which would be very small. Ripple’s response is as follows:

The primary incentive to run a validator is to preserve and protect the stable operation and sensible evolution of the network. It is the validators who decide the evolution of the XRP Ledger, so any business that uses or depends on the XRP Ledger has an inherent incentive to ensure the reliability and stability of the network.

In other words, those who build services on top of the XRP Ledger and want to help the ecosystem succeed run validator nodes.

The situation can be somewhat compared to the nodes of Bitcoin. Tens of thousands of people run Bitcoin nodes for free. The more nodes, the safer and more decentralized the network. The node operator thus indirectly helps Bitcoin succeed.

Features of XRP Ledger

The XRP Ledger was initially built as a payment network, but the ecosystem has lately expanded toward smart contracts. However, it is good to understand that XRP Ledger is, first and foremost, a fast payment network, and it is not a competitor to Ethereum, Solana, and other similar smart contract platforms.

Next, let’s go through the current and future features of the XRP Ledger.

Versatile payment system

The XRP Ledger has always been a versatile, scalable, and cheap payment system. It was created as a platform for thousands of currencies. In the XRP Ledger, it is possible to transfer XRP tokens and fiat currencies, such as euros, dollars, etc., lightning fast.

Quote from Ripple’s website:

XRP Ledger was built specifically to be able to tokenize arbitrary assets, such as USD, EUR, Oil, Gold, reward points, and more. Any currency can be issued on the XRP Ledger.

Over the years, thousands of different assets have been created in the XRP Ledger. Transfers are cheap and fast, and the XRP Ledger user experience is pleasant.

In March of 2024, Ripple announced its plans to launch a stablecoin. The dollar-backed stablecoin will be initially available on XRP Ledger and Ethereum.

RLUSD stablecoin

In April 2024, Ripple announced its plans to launch a dollar-backed stablecoin. The new stablecoin will be initially launched on XRP Ledger and Ethereum. The ticker will be RLUSD, which refers to “Real USD” or “Ripple USD.”

Ripple wants its share of the rapidly growing stablecoin market. It’s a great business because stablecoin operators get a good yield for the dollar collateral from US treasuries. However, the market is competitive, so it won’t be easy for Ripple to capture market share from existing players.

EVM sidechain

The XRP Ledger is designed as a fast payment protocol. It doesn’t support decentralized apps and smart contracts like Ethereum, a significant limitation that Ripple aims to fix with an EVM-compatible sidechain.

EVM stands for Ethereum Virtual Machine. Applications built on Ethereum can be easily cloned to an EVM-compatible sidechain. For example, DeFi apps such as Aave or Uniswap could run on Ripple’s EVM sidechain.

In June 2024, Ripple announced the official name for the sidechain: XRPL EVM Sidechain. A wrapped version (eXRP) of the XRP token will be used as the native token. XRP (and other tokens) can be transferred from the XRP Ledger to the EVM Sidechain using the Axelar Bridge protocol.

Hooks, DiD, NFT, AMM

XRP Ledger also supports NFT minting. Although NFTs have not gained much popularity, XRP Ledger supports this functionality.

DiD, on the other hand, is a Decentralized Identity that enables easy, secure, and decentralized identification for individuals and communities.

Hooks is a lightweight version of smart contracts. It is a technical update to the XRP Ledger, enabling similar functionality to be created on top of Ethereum.

It is also important to remember that the XRP Ledger has had a built-in DEX, i.e., a decentralized exchange, since 2012. In recent years, Ripple has developed a completely new AMM (Automated Market Maker) protocol.

Ripple’s banking solutions

Ripple has become known for its solutions in the banking world. This sector is a bit confusing because the names of the services have constantly changed in recent years. Almost every Ripple guide on the internet mentions services that no longer exist.

The latest example is the rebranding of 2023. RippleNet, previously known as the solution for Ripple’s banking world, is now known as Ripple Payments. Before Ripplenet, xCurrent, xRapid, and xVia products were also used, but these brands have also been removed.

On its website, Ripple lists three service packages it offers to banks and institutions: Cross-Border Payments, Crypto Liquidity, and central bank digital currency. Let’s review these next.

Cross-Border Payments

Cross-Border Payments is Ripple’s most essential and well-known product for institutions. As the name suggests, the technology enables easy and fast payments across borders of countries and currencies.

In this solution, Ripple uses the XRP Ledger, and the XRP token functions as a so-called bridge currency. The illustrative image below is from Ripple’s website.

ripple- cross-border payments

The XRP Ledger was created for this purpose. It enables fast and seamless payments from different currencies to another. With XRP Ledger, transfers are possible on weekends or outside bank opening hours.

Crypto Liquidity

Crypto Liquidity is a liquidity hub for cryptocurrencies developed by Ripple. It is aimed at institutions that need tools to manage several different cryptocurrencies and perform trading. Crypto Liquidity is like an institutional crypto exchange.

Below is a picture from Ripple’s website.

ripple crypto liquidity

Ripple has recently expanded its Crypto Liquidity service and introduced new cryptocurrencies. In addition, an important part of the liquidity hub is the links to the fiat world.

CBDC

Ripple also wants to be one of the leading technology suppliers for CBDC, the digital currency of central banks. CBDCs will likely be launched in all Western countries in the late 2020s. Ripple offers central banks the Ripple CBDC Platform, a solution based on XRP Ledger technology.

Each solution is built on a private ledger that is based upon XRP Ledger technology—a proven blockchain that has transacted over 70 million times over the course of 10 years and is trusted by financial institutions around the world.

As the above quote from Ripple’s website says, CBDCs do not move in the XRP Ledger but in private blockchains built using the XRP Ledger technology. Ripple has already held discussions with more than 20 countries about implementing CBDC on its platform.

XRP as an investment

From an XRP investor’s point of view, Ripple’s future looks better than it has in years. The main reason, of course, is the decision of the Ripple vs. SEC lawsuit. This threat has been hovering over XRP for years, but now it’s practically gone.

The trial’s outcome was disappointing from an XRP investor’s point of view. The price of XRP rocketed just a couple of hours after the news but fell back to its starting point very quickly. Despite arguably the most significant gain in Ripple’s history, XRP’s price is still more than 80 percent below its peak six years ago.

XRP has been hyped for ten years because of Ripple’s banking partners and contracts. Ripple has hundreds of partners in dozens of countries, and millions of transactions have been made with XRP. How will all this ultimately be reflected in the price of XRP?

ripple banks

From a potential investor’s perspective, XRP will constantly be challenged with inherent demand compared to smart contract platforms. A big minus is also the lack of staking, which locks 60-70 percent of the tokens of smart contract platforms out of circulation.

It is also good to remember that the Ripple company has been dumping XRP tokens on the market for years and still holds almost 50 percent of all XRP.

XRP’s strength is its huge fan base, which believes in the project’s success. These fans do not sell their XRP tokens easily. Time will tell if there will be enough new demand for XRP from Ripple’s bank deals or the development of the XRP Ledger, which would bring a new boost to the XRP rate.

XRP token: pros and cons from an investor’s perspective

Finally, let’s list the pros and cons of XRP from an investor’s point of view.

Pros

  • History: XRP has cemented its position in the market for more than ten years and is supported by all known exchanges.
  • Ripple vs. SEC: The uncertainty over XRP’s future is finally gone!
  • Loyal fans: XRP has a huge fan base that attracts new investors.
  • Ripple’s deals: Ripple’s payment deals can provide new use cases for XRP

Cons

  • Large market capitalization: XRP initially attracted many due to its low unit price but has lost this status in recent years to meme coins.
  • No staking: XRP Ledger does not use Proof of Stake, which would create demand for tokens and lock them out of circulation.
  • No smart contracts: XRP Ledger does not have native support for smart contracts, which limits its use cases.
  • Confused price drivers: XRP’s biggest price driver has always been speculation on Ripple-related news, but the actual impact of the news remains minimal in practice.

If you want to acquire XRP, you can easily do so from Binance. Read here for a beginner’s guide on how to buy XRP. The article goes through the step-by-step process of buying XRP using Binance’s mobile app.

Antti Hyppänen

Antti Hyppänen is the founder and editor-in-chief of AboutBitcoin.io. Antti has written articles about cryptos since 2017. He follows the crypto market every day of the year and is responsible for the daily operations of AboutBitcoin. Antti is not a maximalist regarding any cryptocurrency but looks at the industry objectively. Antti’s investment profile is “buy & hold,” i.e., he does not trade or use leverage. His crypto portfolio consists of mainly Bitcoin and Ethereum. Antti also follows macroeconomic events. In addition to cryptos, his interests include gold, silver, and the US stock market.