What is Ripple?
Terms like Bitcoin or cryptocurrency have pretty much become household names by now. But how about Ripple? If you have any degree of familiarity with the current cryptomarket, it must be that you’ve heard of Ripple as well. With its market capitalization standing at $35.42, it happens to be the third most valuable cryptocurrency at the moment. But what exactly is Ripple and why you may choose to invest in Ripple when there are so many cryptocoins to choose from? So, let’s have a closer look.
A Short Introduction to Ripple
The first thing to understand is that Ripple is a cryptocurrency platform whose main aim is to eliminate all the different sorts of problems that are associated with international payment transfers. The platform is basically geared towards enabling faster payments and ensuring greater efficiency when it comes to transferring money from one currency to another and it also acts as an efficient bridge between world’s largest financial institutions. And in order to facilitate the transactions, the cryptocurrency Ripple uses is known as XRP.
Sometimes, people are prone to become confused between Ripple as a global settlement network and XRP, the cryptocoin that Ripple network uses for all exchanges and transactions completed via its platform.
Understanding Different Aspects of Ripple
So, before venturing further, let’s give you a short description or breakdown on different aspects and functions of Ripple. First of all, Ripple is an American Technology Company that started out in 2012 and its main aim was to connect different blockchains and ledgers with a view to facilitate cheaper, faster and more transparent international or global payments.
In fact, if we go back further, the Ripple Project was first implemented by Ryan Fugger, back in 2004, with the intent of creating a decentralized monetary system that can empower communities and individuals to manage their own money without being overly dependent on big international merchants such as banks, etc. In this, Ripple can rightfully claim to have a history older than Bitcoin itself.
The revamped 2012 version was spearheaded by the current CEO of the company, Mr. Brad Garlinghouse who made use of the more advanced technology to make Ripple’s operations fruitful and viable in the fast changing cryptocurrency scene.
Then there is RippleNet which refers to the company’s large network of payment providers around the globe. These include corporate entities, banks, digital asset exchange platforms, payment providers, etc. In fact, large banks as well as many powerful payment providers today prefer Ripple XRP coins more than Bitcoin as their preferred mode of currency transaction (but more on this later).
Finally, we come to XRP that is the crypto or digital currency that is used for all transactions on the Ripple network. XRP cryptocoins also happen to be the native asset of the open-source blockchain XRP Ledger that operates on network of p2p servers
How is Ripple different from Bitcoin and Ethereum?
Now comes another big question. We’ve mentioned that according to current market share, Ripple XRP is the third most valuable cryptocurrency. With a market capitalization of $192.93bn, Bitcoin is way ahead of the pack. Next to it, there is Ethereum with a market cap of $83.80bn. However, though all three companies issue their own cryptocoins, there are crucial differences between them and understanding these differences may helpful for someone planning to invest in the crypto market.
Bitcoin: Bitcoin is by far the most well-known term when it comes to anything related to cryptocurrency. The main aim of Bitcoin is to launch a decentralized platform with the help of digital currency and to remove (or at any rate, reduce as much as is possible) the control from central banks and governments. We can justifiably refer to Bitcoin as a true cryptocurrency since it acts as an alternative to fiat money. And this classification holds huge signification from a tax perspective. Unlike Bitcoin, pretty much all current crytocurrencies available today are rightly classified as securities.
Ethereum: Etehreum, another crypto platform powered by the blockchain technology, is different from both Ripple and Bitcoin in that its central aim was to to resolve the issue of internet hackers by competing against the powerful web-based entities that are responsible for storing all the important security data. Ethereum is best known for its encoded contracts commonly known as ‘smart contracts’. The company also issues its own cryptocoin, the Ethers, with which you can transact with global vendors who accept them.
How to Buy Ripple Step by Step as an United States Citizen
XRPs can be bought with USD by using a credit or debit card—but not if you are a US citizen. This is somewhat unfortunate since it would’ve been so much easier if you could bought Ripple with USD in a direct and easy manner. However, as of yet, you cannot do that as a US citizen, regardless of what state you live in. So, what do you do to invest in Ripple?
Here is our short step-by-step guide on how to buy and safely store your XRPs as a US citizen. First of all, if you already have some Ether or Bitcoin in your wallet, you can use a number of safe and reputable currency exchange sites (such as Binane, OKEx, Poloniex, etc.) to change your Bitcoins or Ethers into Ripple XRPs. But assuming that you d not have any cryptocoins in your wallet, the first thing you need to do is to open an account at a reliable exchange and buy the coin of your choice from there.
Select an Exchange
Our suggestion is you settle for Coinbase.com. This is a safe and reputable exchange platform where you can buy both Ethers and Bitcoins using a US credit card. The process is easy and involves no difficulty whatsoever. You need to open an account; set up and verify it following the requested procedures and can then buy your Bitcoins within a matter of minutes.
Select an Exchange Where You can Exchange Other Cryptocoins for Ripple
As we’ve mentioned, not all digital currency exchange platforms allow buying XRP or trading other coins for XRP. However, with Ripple’s growing popularity in the crypto market, a host of Ripple-friendly exchange sites have come up where you can exchange your Bitcoins or Ethers for XRPs. Some of the most popular of these exchange platforms include Binance, Kraken, OKEx, Poloniex, Bitfinex, Bittrex, Huobi and others. However, to go by the verified customer reviews, we would recommend Binance.com over others. The process again is fairly simple. You open, set up and verify your account; transfer your purchased Ether or Bitcoins to your account and then change it to XRPs.
There are a number of reasons. When it comes to trading cryptocurrencies, Binance is rated as the fastest growing exchange platform. Among top-volume crypto exchange platforms, Binance has grown in leaps and bounds to reach the 10th position in the period of just 5 months. Binance’s neat user interface, its multiple language availability—these are prime reasons behind its huge popularity. But more than anything else, the fact that the website is able to process the transactions at considerably faster speed compared to its competitors is perhaps the most important reason why more and more people are choosing Binance as their preferred exchange platform, especially when it comes to changing other popular crypto coins to XRPs.
Alternatives to Binance
Kraken and Bitstamp: Both Kraken and Bitstamp hold an advantage over Binance is that both these exchange sites offer trading pairs between XRP and other fiat currencies. At Bitstamp, they offer trade pairings of XRP & EUR/USD. In case of Kraken, you can trade between USD/EUR/CAD/JPY and XPR. However, these facilities also mean that if you are focused on XRP only, the speed on your transaction speed can come down considerably for the very reason that they offer such a large number of choices.
Poloniex and Bitsane: These sites operate more or less similarly like Binance. And just like Binance, none of them offer any direct XRP/USD pairings. You’ll have to buy trading coins from other sites and then exchange them to XRPs. Again, when it comes to XRP exchange volume, Poloniex also ranks within the top 10 Ripple exchange sites.
However, despite these alternatives, in view of Binance.com’s growing popularity, we would recommend Binance as Top Exchange Platform as far as RippleXRP coin exchange is concerned.
Top Ripple Wallets
The next step is to store your XRP in a private wallet. Of course, if you so prefer, you can always store your coins on the exchange site (for example, at Binance). However, for security reasons, it is strongly suggested that you use a private Ripple wallet to store your crypto coins.
Now, when it comes to private wallets, you typically have two options: you can either use a software wallet or you can store your XRPs on a hardware wallet. The obvious advantage of storing your coins in a software wallet is that you can access your account from any device with internet connection, no matter where you are. And this can be a sizeable advantage for those who are engaged in trading their cryptocurrencies on a frequent basis. However, normally we do not trade our cryptocoins too frequently, not at current anyway, so it is not that big a factor whether or not you can access your crypto account at any and all times.
On the other hand, the biggest reason behind not storing your Ripple coins on a software wallet is that these wallets are nowhere as safe as hardware wallets. On software wallets, your digital signatures and private keys are stored online and as such, are vulnerable to cyber hack. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you store your XRP on a hardware wallet. Still, if you would like a software wallet for your XRPs, two of the best places, according to our research is CoinPayments and ToastWallet.
How to Safely Store Ripple Currency: Hardware Wallets
Hardware wallets are designed so that you can store your crypto funds securely offline. These are tamper-proof USB devices that can store unlimited cryptocoins and can generate private keys and digital signatures completely offline. These devices make use of state-of-the-art technology with a view to provide utmost security to your crypto funds. What is more, the technology related to this field is a rapidly developing one and you can expect more sophisticated-and safer- devices in the near future. Already, we have a few devices that use security grid cards and are equipped with sign-off after transaction, double-check screen and other advanced features.
When it comes to hardware wallets, you can find some of the best products at Ledger.com. In fact, as a hardware wallet brand, Ledger is way ahead of the pack thanks to their highly sophisticated devices that are also available at a competitive price. Two of the most popular and advanced products offered by the brand are Ledger Nano S and Ledger Nano X.
Ledger Nano S
This device uses a secure chip that is used for credit cards and passports and your private key keeps securely protected within this chip locked by a unique pin code. It is easy enough to set up your account within the device and you can control the gadget with the help of only 2 buttons. What is more, even in case you lose your device, all your data will remain secure via Ledger’s confidential recovery phrase back-up technology and you can get back your old account fully restored on any new Ledger device. You also have the option to manage all your transactions through Ledger’s patented companion app named Ledger Live. Apart from popular crypto coins such as XRP, Bitcoin, etc., the device also supports more than 1100 cryptocurrencies and you also receive multi-language support from some of the top cryptocurrency experts of today.
Ledger Nano X
An even advanced device from Ledger is their most recent offering, Ledger Nano X. this Bluetooth enabled device offer all the standard features of NANO S but in addition to them, you receive the benefits of more advanced technologies especially when it comes to backup and restore and safety issues.
Arnold Webb received a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Harvard University. Arnold currently is a full-time researcher and trader in the cryptocurrency industry. Arnold contributes content to CryptoCelebrities.co, The Bitcoin Magazine and several other publications.