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Ripple

Everything You Need to Know About XRP and the Ripple Payment Network

While many cryptocurrencies aim to decentralize the banking system, one currency stands alone in their attempts to collaborate with banks: Ripple.

In our past two articles, we’ve spotlighted the top 10 cryptocurrencies to look out for in 2018 and the top trends to know about to invest wisely in cryptocurrency in 2018. Both articles had one common topic: Ripple.

While Bitcoin was created to decentralize the financial industry, Ripple is the only digital asset actively working with banks to improve rather than undermine their operations. Ripple boasts the ability to process on average over 1,500 transactions per second, making it the fastest cryptocurrency on the market. Ripple has teamed up with Western Union, Santander, American Express, and more to test the fastest cross-border transaction network available.

The process of making cross-border payments is unnecessarily tedious. In the internet era, the only reason why a currency transfer should take a week to process is because of  outdated procedures. Ripple attempts to create the currency exchange for the digital age. While traditional international transfers require two banks, two reserve banks, two correspondents, and up to a week to process, Ripple offers a transfer method that reduces the time and costs of traditional methods while also offering less failure points and higher security.

Check out Team KoinOK’s Medium post for a smooth summary of how Ripple changes the traditional transfer process.

The other major difference between Ripple and Bitcoin lies in their ledgers. While Bitcoin has a completely decentralized ledger enabled by proof-of-work, Ripple is owned by a private company. Ripple’s internal ledger does not use proof-of-work, but rather a consensus protocol with an amendment system that enacts all amendments that receive 80% support from developers over the course of two weeks. Ripple’s ledger is internal and therefore centralized.

Ripple consists of two components: the digital currency (XRP) and an open payment network that facilitates the transactions. Ripple markets the payment network toward banks as a way of enacting real-time settlements. Ripple is designed as a currency-agnostic transaction system. In order to avoid a currency exchange, currencies are converted into XRP and then sent to the recipient. Unlike Litecoin, XRP are not intended in the long run to be used by consumers to purchase products, but instead to be a middle-man currency that enables instant transactions. XRP and the Ripple network are designed to create a currency-agnostic value web designed to do for currency transfer what email did for messaging.

Rather than take our word for it, check out this awesome summary by Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse:

WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE VALUE OF XRP AND THE PAYMENT NETWORK?

The acute investor must ask: if the Ripple payment network is Ripple’s main innovation, then what is the value of XRP? The long-term value of a cryptocurrency will be dictated by the problem that it is solving. If Ethereum becomes the platform for executing smart-contracts for a massive corporation like Amazon, then that ensure it’s existence in the long run, improving its function as a  store of value. If Ripple becomes the main transfer network for banks, its existence in the long term will be ensured and the function as a store of value will be greatly enhanced.

BOTTOM LINE

The transparency of the team behind the Ripple network and their vision of the platform instills great confidence in its ability to maintain value as a currency. If Ripple can achieve its goal of creating an internet of value where banks can exchange currency as easily as information, then it will definitely have the staying power to outlast the alt-coins and attain significant value over the coming years.

Image via http://technolocheese.com/

Top Cryptocurrency Trends You Need to Know to Invest Wisely in 2018

In December 2017, Bitcoin reached just over $19,000 per coin, its highest all time value. After a brief, precipitous decline to $7,000, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency is now making its way up around $10,400 as of February 26th, 2018.

If last year was any indication, 2018 will prove to be a major year in the further development and stabilization of cryptocurrencies.  Here are the top trends to look out for in 2018:

THE TRANSACTION PROBLEM

Slow transaction times and high transaction fees plagued Bitcoin in 2017. According to CoinMetrics, fees started 2017 averaging $0.30 per transaction and eventually peaked at over $40 in December. Bitcoin will implement several potential enhancements to its system designed to lower transaction fees in 2018.

SEGREGATED WITNESS PROTOCOL

The Segregated Witness protocol was first activated in August 2017. It is an upgrade to the Bitcoin protocol replacing Bitcoin’s block size and weight limit to allow for increased transactions and lower transaction fees. While adoption has been off to a slow start, 2018 should see many more wallets and marketplaces adopting the SegWit protocol, including Coinbase, who recently announced they have finished testing SegWit and begun implementing it for customers.

LIGHTNING NETWORK

First proposed by Joseph Poon and Thaddeos Dryja in January 2016, the lightning network is an overlay network which could enable long-term scalability and near-free transactions for Bitcoin. After two years of development by ACINQ, Blockstream and Lightning Labs, the Lightning Network should find more adoption in 2018.

RIPPLE ON THE RISE

Among our top Cryptocurrencies to watch out for in 2018, we featured Ripple. Ripple has  gained traction and value fast in 2018. Recently, Western Union revealed they have been testing the Ripple blockchain for cross-border payments. Ripple currently offers two main payment products for banks: xCurrent and xRapid. Over 100 banking clients are testing xCurrent, which does not use the Ripple coin. Western Union’s announcement makes them the fifth customer to test xRapid.

Ripple has always catered to banks. Ripple’s consensus protocol makes it more scalable than other major cryptocurrencies. While Bitcoin can process seven transactions per second, Ripple can process up to 1500 transactions in the same second. Ripple’s network is designed to trade any asset with any other asset. If Ripple can entrench itself as a payment processor for banks, its value may shoot way up in 2018.

REGULATION, REGULATION, REGULATION

Anybody with significant money invested into cryptocurrencies knows that perhaps the biggest threat facing cryptocurrency is government regulation. While the US has not instituted regulations, South Korea recently created a ban on anonymous accounts.  Governments all over the world are still in the process of developing regulatory measures. These regulatory decisions can make or break the future of cryptocurrencies.

Check out Bitcoin Magazine’s comprehensive rundown on how countries are regulating cryptocurrency across the globe.

WATCH FOR ALT-COINS

With cryptocurrency fervor at an all-time high, 2018 will no doubt see many new players enter the cryptocurrency game as well as current players making big moves. With over 1,300 alt-coins on the market right now, understanding how to properly research a coin is key. Below, check out our brief guide for evaluating a new cryptocurrency:

  1. THE TEAM: While Satoshi Nakamoto may have chosen to remain anonymous, many other cryptocurrencies are prioritizing transparency. By examining the team behind a cryptocurrency, investors can determine how serious a cryptocurrency really is. For example, having Steven Seagal as a brand ambassador does not contribute any value to a cryptocurrency whatsoever. On the other hand, knowing that Litecoin’s creator Charlie Lee is an engineer at Coinbase only further validates our belief in Litecoin’s capacity for growth.
  2. THE “WHY?”: What is it about a specific cryptocurrency that will ensure it will retain its value and significance in the long run? Bitcoin is the original and most popular cryptocurrency. Ethereum automates smart-contracts. Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash are designed for commerce. Ripple is attempting to establish itself with banks as a lightning quick transaction network. Many coins don’t offer any real long-term value. It’s vital to understand the key benefit of a coin in making the decision to invest.
  3. THE “WHEN: How far along is the cryptocurrency in the development process? Is there an ICO? Are new features being released? Coins come and go, so it’s best to invest in coins with solid long term plans.

CONCLUSION

After a landmark 2017, all eyes are on cryptocurrencies in 2018 to see if they can sustain their growth or if it will prove to be a bubble soon to burst. It is an exciting time to be a wise investor!

Cryptocurrency-Increased-Interest-From-The-Russians-Russia-Bitcoin-Ethereum-Google

The Top 10 Cryptocurrencies of 2018: An Overview

Last week, we explored the revolutionary mechanics of the blockchain in the fourth installment of our series on cryptocurrencies. This week, we’ll take on the top 10 cryptocurrencies of 2018.

The surge of Bitcoin has led to a major boon for all kinds of cryptocurrencies. The discovery of blockchain technology has given rise to a plethora of cryptocurrencies outside of Bitcoin, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and variations. With constant volatility dictating the markets, it will be difficult to know what cryptocurrencies will play out in the long run; however, websites like WorldCoinIndex.com can help one keep in the loop on market trends.

Monitoring the highest valued cryptocurrencies is a great way of keeping tabs on what cryptos are on the rise and fall. Here are the top ten cryptocurrencies of 2018, including the top three your business should consider accepting.

WHAT CRYPTOCURRENCIES SHOULD MY BUSINESS CONSIDER ACCEPTING?

Approximate Market Cap on January 17th: $165.10B

There is no better place to begin the conversation about cryptocurrencies than at the beginning with the original: Bitcoin. Bitcoin saw a momentous rise in 2017 of over 1,500 percent. Since it is the most popular cryptocurrency on the market, there’s no question businesses might want to follow Subway’s lead in starting their cryptocurrency endeavor by accepting Bitcoin.

Check out this fairly comprehensive list of major merchants that accept bitcoin.

Approximate Market Cap on January 17th: $24.97B

Bitcoin Cash is a major cryptocurrency to watch out for. Bitcoin Cash was designed by its founder Roger Ver, the CEO of bitcoin.com.

While Roger Ver was an early investor in Bitcoin and has made hundreds of millions of dollars, he has insisted that Bitcoin is not a safe bet considering it has been plagued lately with rising transaction costs. Instead, he recommends Bitcoin Cash, which is designed to be a much more mobile cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin Cash was recently embroiled in controversy. When Coinbase began trading it on their platform, its value spiked up and Coinbase was almost immediately accused of insider trading. Regardless, if Bitcoin Cash can uphold its promise to be a fluid, mobile cryptocurrency with low transaction fees, it’s here to stay and it’s one businesses should consider accepting.

Learn about what merchants currently accept Bitcoin Cash via acceptbitcoin.cash.

Approximate Market Cap on January 17th: $8.44B

Litecoin is a fully decentralized peer-to-peer Internet currency that enables instant global payments. Litecoin was created by Charles Lee, a former Google engineer who now works at CoinBase.

Litecoin is designed to be the silver to Bitcoin’s gold. It is the third oldest cryptocurrency in existence. It has a total of 84 million coins, quadruple the 21 million Bitcoin currently on the market. It also was designed for smaller items with quicker transaction times. As Lee told Fortune: “Bitcoin can be used for like moving millions of dollars between banks, buying houses, buying cars. It’s really secure… Litecoin can be used for cheaper things.”

Litecoin is intended to be used for smaller purchases than Bitcoin, making it a great option for businesses looking to accept cryptocurrencies.

OTHER TOP CRYPTOCURRENCIES:

Approximate Market Cap on January 17th: $80.37B

Ethereum is a decentralized platform designed to run smart contracts and applications exactly as programmed without the possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud, or third-party interference. Ethereum is one of the top three cryptocurrencies in the world. Created by Swiss developer Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum sets itself apart as a platform that can be used to program applications and smart contracts.

Approximate Market Cap on January 17th: $38.59B

Ripple is a real time global payment network. Created by Ryan Fugger, Jed McCaleb, and Chris Larsen, it is designed as a compliment to Bitcoin to facilitate transactions quickly among any form of currency. Ripple grew by 37,400% in 2017, giving it one of the three highest approximate market caps of all cryptocurrencies.

Approximate Market Cap on January 17th: $3.30B 

Tron began 2017 with an approximate market capitalization at $2.8 billion and finished 2018 with over $18.7 billion. Tron is not only the sixth most valuable cryptocurrency, it serves a specific purpose: Tron is a blockchain-based decentralized protocol that aims to construct a worldwide free content entertainment system. Tron makes it possible for content creators to freely publish, store, and own data in a decentralized, autonomous form. Tron eventually hopes to cut out centralized platforms like Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

Tron was created by Justin Sun, creator of Peiwo—a live voice streaming platform considered China’s equivalent to Snapchat. Tron has attracted some detrimental attention, including from bitcoin.com which claimed Tron is “Vaporware”.

Approximate Market Cap on January 17th: $860.41M

Like Tron, Verge has been labeled “Vaporware”. Verge is designed with privacy in mind, their website states that: “Verge uses multiple anonymity-centric networks such as Tor and I2P. The IP addresses of the users are obfuscated and the transactions are completely untraceable.” Despite Verge’s claims of prioritizing privacy, a website recently appeared revealing the IP addresses associated with hundreds of Verge transactions. Despite being embroiled in controversy, Verge has managed to maintain its value and is currently one of the top 10 cryptocurrencies on the market.

Approximate Market Cap on January 17th: $2.27B 

The history of Ethereum and Ethereum Classic dates back to the early days of cryptocurrency to the $50 million DAO Hack of June 2016. DAO was a smart contract running on Ethereum and when a hacker managed to swindle $50 million from it, the Ethereum community held a vote and elected to change Ethereum’s code so they could return the money to its rightful owners.

One of the main principles of the blockchain is immutability, so the detractors who disagreed with the decision to change Ethereum’s code took action and created Ethereum Classic, which is a copy of the old version of the Ethereum blockchain featuring a few minor improvements in response to the hack. Ethereum Classic has the support of some big crypto players, but the majority of the Ethereum team stuck with Ethereum.

Approximate Market Cap on January 17th: $2.99B

QTUM is designed to mix the best of Ethereum and Bitcoin. It enhances the Bitcoin Core protocol, while allowing for businesses to execute smart contracts, like Ethereum. Created by Patrick Dai and based out of Singapore, QTUM has the ability to execute smart contracts in lite wallets via mobile applications, giving it the potential to bring blockchain-based applications to mobile devices.

While QTUM is currently seeking out their first major partner, its potential has many investors very optimistic.

Approximate Market Cap on January 17th: $8.27B 

EOS is considered a direct competitor to Ethereum. In fact, the founders of EOS and Ethereum have feuded on Twitter. Created by Hong-Kong-based entrepreneur Brendan Blumer and programmer Dan Larimer, EOS is a platform that executes smart contracts using an operating system-like construction upon which applications can be built.

The main difference between EOS and Ethereum is in their design philosophy. While Ethereum has neutrality in mind and does not offer common high-level use cases as intrinsic parts of the protocol, reducing bloat among applications but also reducing efficiency for app developers. EOS on the other hand recognizes that many different applications require the same functionality and seeks to provide these functions. Although it would be difficult to dethrone Ethereum, EOS has practical value for app developers that make it a cryptocurrency to watch.

CONCLUSION

While blockchain technology is here to stay, many alt-coins can fade away fast. If you are investing in cryptocurrency, research will pay off in the long run. Understanding the differences between each currency will help investors figure out where best to place their bets.

This is the final entry of our five part series on Cryptocurrency. Thank you for reading! Check out our previous articles below if you need to catch up.

Part 1: Should My Business Consider Accepting Cryptocurrencies? An Overview

Part 2: How Adopting Cryptocurrencies Could Benefit Your Business

Part 3: Secure Your Cryptocurrency with the Right Wallet

Part 4: How the Revolutionary Mechanics of Blockchain Could Serve Your Business