What are the characteristics of XRP?
XRP Ledger is a decentralized open source network (with a publicly accessible code), which is comprised of the computers of individual users. Its main goal is to create an online payment network which enables people to quickly transfer and exchange money for low fees. The cryptocurrency (or, it could also be described as a token) used on this network is called XRP. So-called nodes and validators are used for checking and verification of transactions. Anyone who downloads appropriate software can become a validator. Nodes and validators share a so-called Ledger; its function is similar to that of blockchain, that is, it represents the accounting book of the network. A new block is written approximately every 5 seconds – this a new version of the Ledger which contains, among other things, account balances and the last transactions.
Banks and financial institutions from all around the world (for example Santander, MoneyGram, or American Express) have expressed interest in utilizing XRP.
History of XRP
The XRP Ledger network was created in 2012 and was conceived from the start as a tool for payments in the banking sector. A group of developers who founded the Opencoin company – later renamed Ripple Labs – was behind its creation. Today, this company is the most significant developer of the XRP Ledger (that is, the entire network), which is why you can sometimes come across the network, or the cryptocurrency, being incorrectly called „Ripple“. Currently, Ripple Labs works together with the banking sector and the most prominent banks on implementing XRP into the banking sector in order to make payments faster.
Transactions are confirmed on the basis of a consensus – everyone in the network agrees that the transactions have taken place and writes them down. Transactions are therefore very fast (indeed, they take mere seconds) and only minimal fees are charged. Practically anyone can become a validating server, but most often these are banks. The use of consensus among validating servers is what distinguishes XRP from „classic“ cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin etc.; they use the computing power of the network for validating transactions, and this computing power is provided by miners.
The users should know that the wallet binds 20 XRP as soon as it is established. This is an anti-spam and anti-network-abuse measure.
The difference between XRP and other cryptocurrenciees (e.g., Bitcoin)
If there is anything that XRP is criticized for, it is the fact that 60% of this cryptocurrency is in the hands of a private company. This goes against one of the principles of cryptocurrencies – decentralization, or the lack of a central authority (if you hold more than 50%, you can easily make decisions on your own). This is one of the reasons why the word cryptocurrency is placed in quotation marks at the beginning of this page because XRP is not a cryptocurrency in the true sense of the word.
Another difference is that while Bitcoin was created as a payment tool, the Ripple Ledger (XRP) network represents a payment system and platform intended for exchanges and payments between banks (with a slight exagerration, it can be said that while classic cryptocurrencies in the form of Bitcoin, Zcash, Dash etc. want to replace the banking system with free payments controlled by no one, Ripple Ledger is meant for operating within the banking system and for making it more effective, that is – operating in a sort of a symbiosis with it).
The principle differs when it comes to the description of how it functions as well –no currency mining, which is so characteristic for classic cryptocurrencies, happens with XRP. In contrast to Bitcoin, the Ripple Ledger network is faster (measured in single seconds) and less energetically demanding.
Number of XRP coins
From the original 100 billion of XRP, the developers gifted 60 %, or 60 billion, to Ripple. At the end of 2017, Ripple Labs locked 55 billion of the above mentioned 60 billion into escrow, which are timed contracts in the XRP network which release only 1 billion XRP every month. Ripple Labs use a smaller portion of each billion every month for support of the XRP ecosystem and the rest is locked into escrow for another 55 months. Currently, approximately 43,000,000,000 XRP is in circulation. The coin can be divided to a maximum of 6 decimal places.
All time high – 3,84 USD (4th of January 2018).
XRP is fully supported by all available hardware wallets.