What Is the Difference Between Bitcoin and Ripple?
Newcomers think that cryptocurrencies look the same. There thousands of groups, channels, websites which focus on those who are willing to start their way into cryptocurrencies, selling them just the information they need: what to buy and when. In the end, all coins are based on the same technology, which makes them of equal value. But it’s a huge misconception.
Some coins are not only different but utterly opposite to the initial bitcoin ideas. And even the primary technology used for creating cryptocurrency—blockchain—is not the same in every project.
In this article, we explain the difference between Bitcoin and Ripple. The difference is more significant than you may think.
- 1 General differences
- 2 Technical differences
- 3 Ripple or Bitcoin, what should I choose?
- 4 Want to know what is happening with Bitcoin?
Bitcoin was created by a person or a group of people who name themselves Satoshi Nakamoto. It is considered to be decentralized, as it has no central management. Even the creator has no influence over Bitcoin.
Ripple is centralized. Creators (a team of people with impressive experience in finance) control the total supply of coins that can’t be mined. Centralization is the main reason why there are so much contradicting opinions about Ripple.
The thing most Bitcoin enthusiasts don’t understand is that Bitcoin is not wholly decentralized anymore. Decentralization breaks mainly due to two things:
- Whales—investors who own a significant amount of BTC and can influence the market.
- Mining pools—groups of miners who work together to find blocks and earn BTC. 81% of all mining pools are concentrated in China.
Bitcoin is not owned by the community anymore. It doesn’t mean that Bitcoin is terrible. It just shows that every structure tends to centralize in some way.
Cryptocurrency or bank service?
Bitcoin is based on the blockchain, a public ledger, where all transactions are recorded. Bitcoin is the cryptocurrency in its nutshell, glory to the king!
Ripple uses a distributed consensus mechanism through a network of computers. And it is not the same as blockchain.
But what is Ripple then? There are Ripple currency and Ripple payment network. Ripple aims to make sending money globally instant and cheap. XRP coins are just mediators that help to facilitate the process, but not full-fledged cryptocurrency themselves.
Ripple’s board of directors consists of professionals who have worked in the financial and banking industries for decades. That is why many Bitcoin fans have prejudices against XRP—cryptocurrency was created as an antagonist for traditional money, and Ripple is designed by “the enemy.” Is it that bad?
While most cryptocurrencies are created by inexperienced enthusiasts and show a drastic fall soon after the launch, founders of Ripple use their expertise and understanding of the market to develop a product with a clear use case and elaborate concept.
Taking into account the mentioned earlier, Ripple vs. Bitcoin comparison as two cryptocurrencies seems a bit unreasonable. While Bitcoin is a full-fledged cryptocurrency, Ripple is a payment network that includes cryptocurrency as well as many other components.
Bitcoin was created to provide people with an alternative to traditional money, controlled by banks and government. Also, most enthusiastic Bitcoin fans believe it will substitute fiat. Bitcoin is anonymous, decentralized and has a limited supply that protects currency against inflation. It has all chances to become the global money, but not until scalability problem will be solved. Right now transactions take too much time.
Ripple’s founders don’t oppose their product to the fiat money. They don’t plan to break the system. Instead, they want to improve it. Their goal is to make cryptocurrency payments real-time and global.
Ripple gets money from one person in USD, for example, converts it to XRP, and sends to another country, where the receiver receives cash in local currency. By reducing frictions and fees for money transfers, Ripple also can accelerate the global commerce.
Bitcoin is a mean of storing value, that can be treated as an asset or money, while XRP is a tool for digitizing money transactions within the banking system.
Bitcoin was invented in 2009; however, there were a few attempts to create digital money before. The proof-of-work scheme that is used in bitcoin blockchain was already developed by Adam Back. Nick Szabo proposed distributed digital scarcity back in the 1990s. Bitcoin and blockchain are genuinely great and independent inventions, but there was some background for it.
Ripple was created in 2012. But the predecessor of Ripple, Ripplepay, was built in 2004. The intent was to create a decentralized payment system, but only with the introduction of blockchain and cryptocurrency, the idea became a reality. For the general public, Ripple surged just in 2017, becoming the third-largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin and Ethereum.
In fact, Ripple is older than Bitcoin. So there are no reasons to treat it as a “newcomer” and mistrust only because of this.
Bitcoin can be mined. Around the world, hundreds of thousands of computers mine bitcoins and, in the process, validate transactions and protect the system. Every ten minutes or so computers collect some pending bitcoin transactions into a block and turn them into a mathematical puzzle. The miner who found the solution currently gets 12.5 bitcoins as a reward. Thus, bitcoin supply grows every 10 minutes until the last bitcoin is mined in around 2140 A.D. End of mining won’t mean the death of Bitcoin, but a transition to a “fee-based bitcoin economy.”
Ripple can’t be mined. All coins have already been issued, and Ripple company is still holding about 60% of them. They plan to release 1 billion XRP to the market monthly, but the company has managed to sell about 300 XRP per month for now.
Although Bitcoin can be mined, it has a limited supply of 21 million coins—80% are already mined. So in the future Bitcoin will become non-mineable, like Ripple.
On the other side, the Ripple company hold a massive amount of XRP and can release it whenever they will and flood the market.
Transaction times and fees
Transaction time depends on how busy if the network. There is a finite number of miners who can validate transactions and a limited number of blocks where the transactions can be confirmed. Usually, transaction confirmation takes about one hour, but when the network is overloaded, it can take up to a few days.
The fee is set by a user, but the higher is the fee, the faster the transaction will be validated. You can see the current average transaction fee at bitcoinfees.earn.com.
A transaction takes 3-5 seconds. The current minimum rate for Ripple transaction is 0.00001 XRP (less than 1 cent), no matter the size of the transaction. The fee is not collected by anyone, tokens are destroyed and cease to exist after the transaction is finished.
The crucial difference is that blockchain transactions are confirmed by miners, and one confirmation can take up to few days, while in the Ripple’s system the servers decide by consensus the validity of the transaction, which enables instant confirmation (about 3 seconds).
All transactions are recorded on blockchain and open to the public. If you know the wallet address, you can see the balance, as well as all incoming and outgoing transactions, at blockchain.info.
For example, if your friend knows your wallet address and sent you some coins, he or she now can see not only the history of all your transactions but also all operations in the future.
Luckily, many wallets change the public key after the transaction automatically, so nobody will see your balance movements in the future, but your history is still open.
Your private information is not open to the public, but the system itself tracks everything: your account balance, transactions, personal data. Ripple is more like a bank: it knows a lot but doesn’t tell anybody (hopefully).
Bitcoin offers more privacy than banks but still is not entirely anonymous. Anonymity completely breaks if you want to convert bitcoin to fiat.
Ripple collects information about each transaction as a usual bank but promises not to share it with anybody.
Perhaps full anonymity is not possible when we talk about money. Without identity verification and tracking we have all chances to end up with money laundering, financial fraud, and many more unpleasant things.
Ripple or Bitcoin, what should I choose?
From the article, you can see that Bitcoin and Ripple have their pros and cons.
Many crypto fans hate Ripple, mainly because it is centralized and controlled—everything crypto community is fighting against. Often people tend to judge without a clear understanding of what is Ripple. Surprisingly, Ripple as a company has never claimed to be a crypto project. They are honest enough and don’t hide that Ripple was created to be implemented in the banking system.
While Bitcoin is perhaps the most loved cryptocurrency, Ripple is treated with suspicion. Both Bitcoin and Ripple have a great idea and a community behind. And, what is more important, the potential to bring new valuable solutions to the world.
Bitcoin and Ripple are just two different things with different goals and various structures to achieve them.