Cryptocurrencies are here to stay. Even though they’re still relatively new at eight years old in financial terms, the advent of established alternatives and competitors to Bitcoin means that not only is there a market, there’s choice in it too. However, they still cause controversy, largely due to a lack of understanding and even transparency on the part of the creators. All cryptocurrencies are not created equal, and getting that message out there is probably the next big essential stage of cryptocurrency development for the casual and serious enthusiast and investor alike.

One of the newer kids on the crypto block is Ripple, and it’s living up to its name. Attracting the attention of those who are wary of the Bitcoin rejection of financial centralization and control, Ripple is taking a different path. The evolution of Ripplepay, it operates more like currency exchange, and – more or less, if you disregard the odd three and a half seconds – in real time.

Unlike other cryptocurrencies, Ripple is perfectly safe as the ledger doesn’t require the company to continue to trade. There are no miners, and transactions are confirmed by validators reaching a consensus, unlike Bitcoin’s reliance on proof of work model. The next hurdle to is to get the general public – perhaps those unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies – on board and help them understand the differences, where they exist.

  • Bitcoin is decentralized, whereas Ripple is owned by a company – in fact, Ripple own something like 60% of the tokens
  • Bitcoin was created as a means of storing financial value, whereas Ripple was originally created (Ripplepay) as a digital payment system
  • Bitcoin is still being created (there are currently something like 16 million Bitcoins of the 21 million maximum in existence), whereas 100 billion XRP were pre-mined
  • Ripple is a good vehicle for speculative investment; one XRP is currently around $0.20, whereas, at the time of writing, one Bitcoin is around $6900 and rising. Although you can invest smaller amounts in Bitcoin, it’s potentially more attractive to invest in a ‘currency’ that still obviously has room to rise

The major factor to keep watching with interest where Ripple is concerned is the speed of transaction, and how that might affect other cryptocurrencies and the way they operate as a result. The internet in terms of public use, and as a means of spending and transferring money is getting on for a quarter of a century old, and yet we’re still somehow in the late 20th century in terms of verifying banking transactions. When we can speak to someone on the other side of the world in real-time, it beggars belief that payment systems seem to find it impossible to catch up. However, since the likes of Ripple will remove the need for banks to act as third parties for payments (and therefore potentially weaken their control over international payments) it remains to be seen what hurdles may yet be put their path.