tl;dr Ripple (XRP) is a new decentralized Bitcoin-like currency that doesn’t require a blockchain or mining. The Ripple network also supports sending and trading between any currency enabling true decentralized BTC exchanges. Ripple and Bitcoin can work together to expand each other’s reach. We are the first VPN to accept Ripple.
As Bitcoin approaches the 30$ mark for the second time, we are proud to announce that we are the first VPN to accept a brand new currency, Ripple, the first cryptocurrency that truly has a shot at competing with Bitcoin. Up until this point, all other decentralized digital currencies which tried to compete were essentially cheap knockoffs of Bitcoin. Ripple is the first true innovation in decentralized cryptocurrencies since Satoshi Nakamoto released Bitcoin.
We’d like to start off with a simple list of Ripple’s advantages and disadvantages in relation to Bitcoin. Ripple has no blockchain, no mining, and no hard limit on number of transactions per second. Because of this, its transactions can be completely confirmed within seconds rather than hours. Since there is no mining, there is no 51% attack, which in Bitcoin allows someone who invests enough money to either double spend or shut down the entire network. It also makes Ripple a “greener” cryptocurrency as no “pointless” computation has to go into confirming its transactions.
Ripple’s major disadvantage to Bitcoin is that it starts out with 100% of Ripple Credits (XRP or ripples) being completely controlled by their originator, a corporation, OpenCoin Inc (founded by Jed McCaleb of MtGox and eDonkey fame). In contrast, bitcoins started out not existing at all, but came into existence via mining, a process open to anyone who was so inclined to participate. OpenCoin will over the course of a few years attempt to distribute 80% of all XRP in as fair a way as possible. Whereas most bitcoins were mined by a small amount of individuals early on (for a price much much cheaper than today’s), OpenCoin wants to distribute ripples in a more even fashion between a much larger number of people. So some will say Ripple is more fair because of this, while others will say it’s less fair because a single organization is handling the process rather than a free market mechanism. Other than the distribution mechanism XRP is just the same as BTC, it’s a fixed supply currency enforced by every peer, and once you have them, they are yours. There is no counterparty risk and they will be yours until you choose to send them on to someone else. Ripple’s other obvious disadvantage is that it’s much more alpha than Bitcoin. While Bitcoin is still a very alpha technology as well, it has stood up quite well thus far. It will be years before Ripple can truly claim to be an invulnerable payment processing network.
But none of this matters, Bitcoin and Ripple were made for each other. Ripple is how Bitcoin will scale, in both a technological sense as well as in adoption. Bitcoin has a hard limit on the number and size of transactions it can process per second. While there is much debate in the Bitcoin community about lifting this limit, doing so would be equivalent to creating an entirely new Bitcoin network and migrating everyone onto it. Not an easy task to say the least. Ripple’s two biggest achievements are solving the double spend problem without a blockchain and inventing a decentralized way to send and exchange non Ripple currencies over its network. The latter enables two things which will truly allow Bitcoin to flourish: 1) Most Bitcoin transactions can be done through the Ripple network, only to be settled on the blockchain when absolutely necessary. 2) True decentralized Bitcoin exchanges will now be possible via trading on the Ripple network.
Easy to understand is one of the things Ripple isn’t, but we’ll try to give an example of how you might pay a merchant in BTC via the Ripple network. The first thing to understand is that the Ripple network will have many gateways that will hold the actual currency which is being transacted over Ripple. Anyone can start their own gateway and hold other people’s currencies. So let’s say there are two gateways, gateway A and gateway B. You trust gateway A with your BTC and the merchant you want to pay trusts gateway B with their BTC. This means there are effectively two types of BTC on the Ripple network: BTC/A and BTC/B. Even though they both represent BTC they aren’t equivalent. Since the merchant doesn’t trust gateway A he can’t do anything with BTC/A. This is where the exchange comes in. There are market makers on the Ripple network who will convert to and from any currency pair. So let’s assume someone has an open trade of 1 BTC/A for 1 BTC/B. When you try to send 1 BTC to the merchant, Ripple will see that you have BTC/A, he wants BTC/B, and that a trade between them exist. All in one go it will deduct the BTC from your account, execute the order, converting the BTC/A into BTC/B, and credit it into the merchant’s account. Now the merchant can either hold on to the BTC in the Ripple network or send it to his gateway (gateway B) and withdraw the “real” BTC from them onto the Bitcoin blockchain.
The awesome thing about the above process is that it works for any currency, not just BTC. You can do the exact same thing with dollars, effectively allowing you to transact USD privately outside of the traditional banking system. As stated above you can also convert between USD and any other currency of your choice in a totally decentralized fashion. This opens up a world of possibilities.
We at Private Internet Access are excited to be the first VPN to accept this game changing new currency. If you’d like to try it out and get some free ripples there are two ways. If you’re a member of bitcointalk.org head over there as OpenCoin is giving out free XRP to all its members.
If you aren’t a bitcointalk member, we have been granted a limited number of XRP to distribute. Send a tweet to @buyvpnservice with a link to this post and your Ripple address and we will send you some (first come first serve, non-bitcointalk members only) (we’re all out!). And of course, to sign up for our VPN with ripples or any other currency check out our buy VPN page.
For technical details on Ripple check out https://ripple.com/wiki or #ripple on freenode.