Ripple is a real-time gross settlement system, currency exchange and remittance network created by Ripple Labs Inc., a US-based technology company. Released in 2012, Ripple is built upon a distributed open source protocol, and supports tokens representing fiat currency, cryptocurrency, commodities, or other units of value such as frequent flier miles or mobile minutes. Ripple purports to enable “secure, instantly and nearly free global financial transactions of any size with no chargebacks.”
The ledger employs the decentralized native cryptocurrency known as XRP, which as of September 2018 was the second largest coin by market capitalization. Ripple has been adopted by banks and payment networks as settlement infrastructure technology. Ripple relies on a common shared ledger, which is a distributed database storing information about all Ripple accounts. The network is “managed by a network of independent validating servers that constantly compare their transaction records.” Servers could belong to anyone, including banks or market makers. Ripple validates accounts and balances instantly for payment transmission and delivers payment notification with very little latency (within a few seconds). Payments are irreversible, and there are no chargebacks.
For its creation and development of the Ripple protocol (RTXP) and the Ripple payment/exchange network Ripple Labs was named as one of 2014’s 50 Smartest Companies in the February 2014 edition of MIT Technology Review. A scientific study made by two researchers from Stanford and Stockholm University that studied the money production from an energy consumption point of view and a macroeconomic level stated that running a server on Ripple was comparable to the energy needs of running an email server.