What is Ripple? 5 3465

ripple

Now you’re down with Bitcoin and Ethereum, if you heard about the Banco Santander announcement about a partnership with Ripple, you may be wondering – what is Ripple? Is it just another cryptocurrency like Bitcoin? And if so, does that mean that one of the world’s largest banks is now accepting payments in cryptocurrency?

No, and definitely not. What’s going on, then? Let’s take a closer look.

Rather than just a digital coin, Ripple is a remittance network, currency exchange and real-time gross settlement system (RTGS). Going back to 2012 when it came out, Ripple (unlike Bitcoin) does not actually use the blockchain system. It uses what is known as a common ledger, which is essentially a network of independent servers that validate transactions constantly.

If you’re thinking, “that sounds a lot like the blockchain,” that’s because it is. Ripple’s shared public database also uses a form of consensus. The majority of the network has to be in agreement on the validity of transactions, to prevent events like a 51% attack.

Unlike Bitcoin though, Ripple doesn’t rely on a proof-of-work (PoW) concept, or the computational power of members of the network. It also isn’t mined.

The token is XRP and its main characteristic–the raison d’etre of Ripple–is that it allows for real time exchange of currency between two parties, whether that be fiat currency, gold, or any other type of currency. Its major claim to fame is that it allows people to avoid wait times, fees, and even exchanges transactions.

How is Ripple Different From Bitcoin?

As mentioned, the technology they rely on is different. Ripple is more targeted to banks and other FSIs (as displayed through the Banco Santander partnership). While Bitcoin was built for the people, Ripple was built for enterprise. Sure, you can buy and trade it peer to peer, but that’s not what this cryptocurrency is all about. It’s to move massive sums of money around safely and practically instantly. That’s what’s getting the banks all excited.

And today, it is still the fastest cryptocurrency for transactions, settling payments in a maximum of four seconds, as compared to Ethereum, which can be a few minutes, and Bitcoin, which can take several hours. Another main difference is that this cryptocurrency is not mined, like Bitcoin, Ether, and other cryptocurrencies. They just settled on 100 billion tokens from the get-go and issued that many coins.

In theory, the 100 billion XRP tokens originally issued are meant to be the only tokens there will ever be. But there is technically nothing to stop Ripple from issuing any more. But, they probably won’t, seeing as the XRP token is completely separate from Ripple’s technology. Banks can send currency in dollars, yen, or pounds, without needing to use XRP at all, making the investment in this token somewhat less attractive. Without doubt, Ripple’s value is the network, not the Ripple coin.

Banks can use its software for fast, international payments (as is the case with Banco Santander) and can ditch the traditional SWIFT method, that is slow and cumbersome.

Is It Volatile as Well?

Yes. Like most cryptocurrencies, the markets are very sensitive to FUD and FOMO. As the price of Bitcoin exploded towards the end of last year, Ethereum doubled and Litecoin blew up, Ripple also experienced a massive price hike, with first time investors looking to purchase cryptocurrency within their price budget. Moreover, a rumor was spread that Coinbase was thinking of listing it on their exchange and that shot the price up further…

Until Coinbase quashed the rumor and the price came crashing back down.

Against an Ideology?

Bitcoin purists have criticized Ripple, because it has owners. It is a centralized network in the middle of a decentralized, idealistic ecosystem. Also, the trusted Unique Node List (UNL) that is supposed to protect Ripple from hackers and threats throws up another issue: while it protects the cryptocurrency, what’s to stop a  government or regulating body from coming in and making a change?

It is certainly an interesting technology and worth keeping on your radar. But, unless you’re working in a large financial institution, you probably don’t need it too much of it in your investment portfolio.

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Christina is a technology and business communicator who has worked with high profile ICOs and blockchain influencers to break industry news.

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Fidelity to Offer Bitcoin in 401(k) Retirement Plans Comments Off on Fidelity to Offer Bitcoin in 401(k) Retirement Plans 48842

The move is the first for a major retirement plan provider and may signal more widespread adoption of the cryptocurrency. 

On April 26, Fidelity announced its intention to add a Bitcoin investment option to its 401(k) retirement plans. Employees of businesses that pursue the option will be able to allocate as much as 20% of their contributions to Bitcoin, all from the company’s main investment dashboard. According to reporting by the Washington Post, Fidelity said that at least one employer has already signed up for the option which will launch later this year.

“Fidelity’s leadership, especially CEO Abby Johnson, has been at the forefront of institutional Bitcoin and crypto integration for years and is no stranger to the space, with Fidelity’s private equity and venture capital arm being a major source of capital for crypto miners, crypto SPACs, crypto hedge funds and more,” says Eric Lamison-White, Director at STS Capital Group LLC, a cross-border advisory and investment firm. “It is completely in character for Fidelity to steadily and cautiously extend access to their working class customers as the regulatory climate becomes more productive.”

Critics suggest that the volatility of Bitcoin poses an unnecessary risk to a retirement portfolio. It’s a reasonable argument. At the time of this writing, the cryptocurrency’s price has fallen by more than 6% just today. Meanwhile, at $37,978 it’s a far cry from Bitcoin’s high of $68,000, representing more than a 40% drop since November 10th of last year. 

However, advocates of cryptocurrency’s long-term utility disagree.

“Cryptocurrency is a reliable, long-term store of value because it cannot be corrupted by central authorities,” says Lisa Carmen Wang, founder of The Bad Bitch Empire, a platform for female investors in web3. “We’ve already seen hyperinflation, bank failures, and other egregious disasters happen in the last few years, so trust in governments is at an all-time low. Crypto is inevitably volatile now because it is an early stage high-risk/high-reward investment, but for those who believe in the values of a decentralized economy, crypto is an attractive long-term investment that people should consider having in their portfolio.”

Regardless of your appetite for risk, the notion that savers will be able to easily manage contributions to Bitcoin in a respected retirement plan is meaningful.

As of last year, 63% of US adults that did not hold crypto were curious about it. Many people in the crypto-curious category don’t invest because they simply don’t know how. There’s a technological barrier to entry that can feel daunting. 

When you have major retirement plan managers like Fidelity making it easy to add Bitcoin to a portfolio through a dashboard users are already familiar with, we may see this group start investing in the asset class, moving digital currencies further along toward mainstream adoption.

How a Thief Stole More Than $1M in NFTs on Instagram Comments Off on How a Thief Stole More Than $1M in NFTs on Instagram 109

A common use case for the blockchain is reducing fraud. Shouldn’t that mean it’s impervious to hackers? Not necessarily. Here’s how a hacker was able to amass more than $1 million in stolen Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs.

For any of us that have received a nefarious link in our emails or on social media that encourages us to input private information, we’re already familiar with the logistics of phishing. A hacker sends us a link, usually under the guise of a brand or person we recognize, and asks for personal details like usernames, passwords, or bank details that aid them in assuming our identity or assets. 

It’s precisely what happened in the case of the Bored Ape Yacht Club hack which was announced on Twitter Monday morning. 

A hacker was able to take charge of the official Bored Ape Yacht Club Instagram profile, and sent a communication to followers claiming to be offering an “airdrop,” which is a term used to describe a free token giveaway. (Note: it’s not clear at this time how the hacker was able to login to the official Instagram, in the first place.)

Users were asked to link their wallet to benefit from the airdrop, which made their mobile wallet susceptible to the hacker and resulted in the transfer of multiple NFTs, presumably including four Bored Apes and a number of other NFTs minted by the Bored Apes creators, Yuga Labs.

The hack illuminates a glaring problem in the NFT market. Namely, MetaMask, the popular wallet application, only supports NFT display on mobile which is less user-friendly than the platform’s browser extension leading to mistaken transaction approvals.

What’s the solution for NFT holders? “MetaMask with Ledger,” according to Adryenn Ashley. “NFT holders need a wallet that gives them the ease of MetaMask with the security of hardware.”

The hack is a reminder that even though the blockchain has the potential to overcome fraud, users still need to be mindful of third party applications that manage their data. 

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