What Is the Ripple Protocol?
Ripple is a payment and exchange network designed to enable faster and cost-efficient global payments. The network is based on a distributed ledger database known as XRP Ledger and is constructed as a protocol dedicated to providing payment solutions for banks and financial institutions. RippleNet, which is exclusive to Ripple, is a payment and exchange network built on top of the XRPL. It is designed as a payment solution system for banks and other financial institutions. RippleNet offers a 3-product suite that includes xRapid, xCurrent, and xVia. These products are aimed at providing payment solutions to financial institutions.
Initially conceptualized in 2004 by Ryan Fugger, Ripple was developed as a decentralized digital monetary system called RipplePay, to provide secure payment solutions within a global network. In 2005, the system was launched.
In 2012, Ryan Fugger transferred the project to Jed McCaleb and Chris Larsen, who established OpenCoin, a US-based technology firm. Ripple began to be constructed as a protocol dedicated to providing payment solutions for banks and financial institutions. OpenCoin was renamed Ripple Labs in 2013, and in 2015, it was again rebranded to Ripple.
What Is XRP Ledger or XRPL?
In 2012, Ripple deployed the Ripple Consensus Ledger (RCL), inspired by Bitcoin and based on the work of Fugger. RCL was later renamed as XRP Ledger (XRPL) and included Ripple's native cryptocurrency, XRP. XRPL functions as a distributed economic system that stores accounting information and provides exchange services across multiple currency pairs.
Ripple presents the XRPL as an open-source distributed ledger that enables real-time financial transactions that are secured and verified by the network's participants through a consensus mechanism. However, unlike Bitcoin, the XRP Ledger does not use a Proof of Work consensus algorithm, and the network reaches consensus through its customized consensus algorithm - formerly called the Ripple Protocol Consensus Algorithm (RPCA).
The XRPL is governed by a network of independent validating nodes that compare their transaction records. Ripple recommends its clients use a Unique Node List (UNL), a list of identified, trusted participants to validate their transactions. Nevertheless, anyone can set up and operate a Ripple validator node and choose which nodes to trust as validators.
UNL nodes exchange transaction data between them until they all agree on the current state of the ledger. Transactions agreed upon by a supermajority of UNL nodes are considered valid, and the consensus is achieved when all nodes apply the same set of transactions to the ledger.
According to Ripple's official website, Ripple is a privately held company that helped support the development of XRPL as an open-source distributed ledger. Thus, anyone can contribute to the code, and the XRPL can continue even if the company ceases to exist.
What Is RippleNet?
RippleNet, which is exclusive to Ripple, is a payment and exchange network built on top of the XRPL. It is designed as a payment solution system for banks and other financial institutions. RippleNet offers a 3-product suite that includes xRapid, xCurrent, and xVia. These products are aimed at providing payment solutions to financial institutions.
xRapid is a payment solution that utilizes XRP as an intermediary currency between multiple fiat currencies. Both XRP and xRapid rely on the XRP Ledger, which enables quicker confirmation times and lower fees compared to conventional methods.
For example, let's say that John from the United States wants to send €500 to Maria in Spain. John transfers the money via a financial institution called ABC, which uses the xRapid solution to establish a connection with asset exchanges in both the originating and destination countries. ABC then converts John's €500 to XRP, which provides the necessary liquidity for the final payment. The XRP is then converted to Euros within seconds, and Maria can withdraw the money from the asset exchange located in Spain.
xCurrent is a payment solution that enables immediate settlement and tracking of cross-border payments among RippleNet members. Unlike xRapid, xCurrent does not utilize the XRP cryptocurrency as its default currency nor depend on the XRP Ledger. Instead, it is developed on the Interledger Protocol (ILP), which Ripple introduced to link different ledgers and payment networks.
Main components of the xCurrent system:
- xCurrent Messenger
- Provides peer-to-peer communication among participating financial institutions in the RippleNet to exchange relevant transaction data
- Confirm the success or failure of a transaction and coordinate fund transfer across the Interledger, either through an institution's validator or a third-party validator
- Interledger Protocol
- Integrates with existing banking ledgers to establish the ILP Ledger, which serves as a sub-ledger for tracking credits, debits, and liquidity among transacting parties
- FX Ticker
- Used to define exchange rates between transacting parties and to track the current state of each configured ILP Ledger
Although primarily designed for fiat currencies, xCurrent also supports cryptocurrency transactions.
xVia is a user-friendly interface that simplifies the process of connecting to RippleNet. It enables banks and other financial institutions to interact within a single framework, eliminating the need for multiple payment network integrations. With xVia, financial institutions can create payments and attach relevant information such as invoices to their transactions.
Ripple Network is a global payment system designed for financial institutions that offer a currency exchange solution. It complements and enhances the traditional payment system by implementing RippleNet on top of the existing banking infrastructure. While Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency and Ethereum is known for its smart contract platform, RippleNet offers three products: xCurrent enables efficient real-time payments across institutions; xRapid provides on-demand liquidity pools through XRP; and xVia facilitates the integration and communication of all RippleNet participants.