By: Sameer Zubairi | 4 min read | 14/01/2019

What Is Ripple?

Ripple is the name of a cryptocurrency network that took the industry by storm in 2018. With the promises of extremely fast transaction speeds and a highly scalable consensus protocol, Ripple’s XRP coin exchanged on this network usurped Ethereum as the cryptocurrency with the second highest market cap. Which begs the question, what makes this coin so appealing?

THE PHILOSOPHY OF RIPPLE

To put it straight, Ripple has emerged as a company dedicated to transforming the banking industry. Their purpose is to draw attention to some of the major problems with the current banking system like extremely high fees, low accessibility, and slow processing times for cross border payments. These are all issues the Ripple network claims to address.

XRP, which is Ripple’s intrinsic currency, boasts one of the highest transaction rates of any crypto asset. In comparison to Bitcoin’s 6 transactions per second (tps) and Ethereum’s 15 tps, the Ripple network is capable of processing up to 1500 tps. This means that individual XRP transactions require less processing time and charge lower fees.

Essentially, Ripple addresses some major problems with an archaic banking framework by using blockchain technology to streamline how transactions are executed. By providing an easy to access, globally functioning and highly liquid cryptocurrency, the Ripple network can solve a lot of the long processing times and high fees commonly attached to cross border payments.

WHAT IS THE RIPPLE PROTOCOL CONSENSUS? (RPCA)

The functional value of any crypto asset shines through the consensus protocol of its underlying blockchain network. Essentially, the consensus protocol is the process through which the different nodes on a blockchain network agree to validate a set of transactions by adding them as a block to the growing chain. Therefore, the consensus algorithm is crucial for deciding how secure, scalable and decentralized a cryptocurrency actually is.

The Ripple Protocol Consensus Algorithm (RPCA) is a democratic consensus achieved amongst a pre-assigned Unique Node List (UNL) instead of involving every individual node. This Unique Node List is a subset of the Ripple Network, which is considered trustworthy enough to validate transactions. The RPCA executes in rounds, where transactions waiting for confirmation must be validated by at least 80% of the UNL servers. Basically, the Ripple network is able to execute transactions in an extremely fast yet secure manner by only requiring consensus from a trusted subset of the network rather than querying every node.

Those who appreciate the decentralized nature of cryptocurrency and blockchain might be seeing a major tradeoff with this approach. By authorizing a certain subset of nodes over others, the Ripple Network is employing a hierarchical system to process transactions. One could argue through this process, the decentralized characteristics of this blockchain are diminished.

PROS AND CONS OF RIPPLE

Sending money in under four seconds to the other side of the world with minimal transaction fees is a blockchain promise being made from the early days of Bitcoin. Judging by its current trajectory and company stated mission, Ripple seems to be the cryptocurrency positioned to accomplish this even more successfully. Granted with the consensus protocol run on the Ripple network being more centralized, there are still trade-offs this currency makes to boast such impressive traits.

Here are some pros and cons of Ripple:

All in all, Ripple has established itself as a big player in the crypto world. Big names like Money Gram, Standard Chartered and American Express have jumped on the Ripple train and are listed as customers on their site. Although there are drawbacks with running the Ripple Protocol Consensus Protocol as far as decentralization is concerned, XRP has become a major cryptocurrency solution for the long wait times and high transaction fees involved with traditional banking procedures.

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