In the vast world of cryptocurrencies, it is sometimes hard to keep track of the different qualities that each digital coin has to offer. There are new cryptocoins springing up every day, each claiming to bring something unique to the market. But even among those less learned in the crypto game, there are a few names that really stand out. Ripple (XRP) is one of them – but how did it get started and what does it offer?
The Brains Behind the Ripple Code
As fascinating as the story of Ripple is, its origin story is equally exciting. The main brain behind Ripple and the code of its token, XRP, is David Schwartz – the man who was recently appointed Chief Technology Officer of the company. A well-known cryptographer, Schwartz had previously worked as CTO for WebMaster Inc., a software developer based in Santa Clara. There he used to employ his skills in creating encrypted cloud environments for storage as well as internal communication messaging systems for the likes of the NSA (National Security Agency) and CNN. Nowadays, he is based in San Francisco, where he co-created the Ripple consensus network from scratch. He also regularly takes to Twitter and writes on his widely popular blog under the nickname “JoelKatz” – and everyone in the cryptocoin community pays attention to his two crypto-cents.
Schwartz was instrumental in designing the architecture of XRP, the cryptocurrency that is considered by many as the next big thing in the industry. And even though it is currently the third most powerful digital coin, we wouldn’t be so surprised if it overtook BTC soon. From an early age, he showed where his loyalties lied – and his subsequent journey is proof enough. As a kid, he used to fiddle with doorknobs and locks, excited at their function as an intermediary controlling the flow of movement between two rooms. Later, while in school in picket-fence Long Island, he tinkered with his father’s calculators – looking to use the technology behind them for a totally unrelated purpose: creating images on the HP calculator’s tape readout. His out-of-the-box thinking process was combined with his love for typically nerdy pastimes: chess, and coding. He went on to get his electrical engineering degree in the 1990s and then register a patent for distributed computer network designed to take off load from the main processor.
He started working as a programmer and became more and more interested in cryptography – and his time spent working with the NSA further fueled his passion. He also was inspired by the idea of decentralization and distribution of control – and that got him hooked into the cryptocurrency world for good. In 2011 he met Jed McCaleb, of Mt Gox BTC exchange fame, and in 2012 Silicon Valley veteran Chris Larsen: the foundations of Ripple were laid. The 48-year-old programmer became the main architect of the XRP code, yet he chose a stake in Ripple and a salary over the XRP coin – and he is not listed as Ripple’s co-founder even though he was the first person on board after McCaleb. But Schwartz insists on forging his own path, and he hopes to see payments become equally easy as “sending an email” in five years’ time.
How XRP Aims to Take Over Global Financial Transactions
That is precisely the overarching aim of XRP: facilitating financial transactions all over the globe. Ripple is basically suggesting an alternative to SWIFT, the global system that verifies bank transactions – the difference, according to Ripple, is that their proposal is much faster, more secure, more transparent and does away with obscurely calculated fees that global payments usually impose. The digital currency claims that when international payments would need days to be processed using traditional protocols or hours if the user opts for Bitcoin, they would need just seconds using Ripple’s technology. Several banks have already embraced the Ripple platform, including the Bank of America, Santander and UBS. This past year, financial institutions and firms in Southeast Asia have also turned to the Ripple blockchain-powered tech, which has helped it gain recognition.
More recently, banks and money transfer services across Canada, Brazil and India have adopted Ripple, while Western Union is looking to incorporate its platform. With so many interconnections with legitimate financial entities and banks, Ripple is quite unique in the crypto-community and sets itself apart from the likes of Bitcoin. As Schwartz has explained, there are some fundamental differences between BTC and XRP. One is the way they verify transactions in the ledger: Bitcoin offers proof of work, while XRP relies on consensus. Furthermore, the XRP code was created in such a way that it is able to adapt to arbitrary assets such as USD. Schwartz has also extensively argued that XRP is inherently decentralized – even though not everyone agrees with him.
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