Up, then down again.
In times of volatility, it can seem like there really isn’t anything supporting public cryptocurrency networks. But that isn’t exactly the case. While they come in all shapes and sizes (so to speak), cryptocurrencies all use the same ingredients – peer-to-peer networking, private key cryptography and programming.
XRP, perhaps the breakout crypto asset of 2018, is no exception.
Created in 2012 and now securing $40 billion in total value, XRP is the third-largest cryptocurrency network today, one that has gained publicity as the company that manages its operations, Ripple, has inked a range of impressive partnerships.
One point of criticism that has emerged, though, is that most of the announcements don’t have much to do with XRP, but Ripple’s other financial products. At least some users have been unaware of the distinction (though CoinDesk has a guide for that).
But even those considering the market (or who may be watching from afar) can benefit from understanding more about Ripple’s technology and how it differs from yet another market segment, public cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum.
While all three do trade on public exchanges, XRP, as you’ll see, doesn’t exactly function like the other assets you’ll find on CoinMarketCap.
Ledger and consensus algorithm
To start, XRP is a cryptocurrency that rides on the XRP Ledger. (You can think of XRP as similar to U.S. dollars, and XRP Ledger like the Federal Reserve’s official database of bills, coins and notes.)
The part that governs how XRP moves over the XRP Ledger is called the XRP Ledger Consensus Protocol, or XRP LCP.
Like any distributed consensus protocol, a set of computers run XRP LCP in an effort to determine which transactions that have been sent over the network are valid and, as such, agree on the history of the ledger.
In this, the algorithm faces a similar challenge to bitcoin, ethereum and other more decentralized cryptocurrencies – the double-spend problem, whereby a user might try to send the same cryptocurrency transaction twice in an