Making money transactions between different banks or payment services have always been a strenuous task, requiring multiple verifications, sometimes performed even by humans, to attest their authenticity, and a lot of effort had to be put to translate from one bank or payment service system “language” to another one. That’s why it’s so expensive and slow to make these kinds of transactions (it’s not just because they want to earn a lot of money from you).
The cumbersome system that processes these transactions is called SWIFT.
But then there is Ripple. The Ripple payment protocol is brilliant in the way it uses the blockchain and its own currency, XRP, as a bridge currency to allow an almost instant and direct cross-border transfer of money between two parties for free.
More than that, it allows any currency exchange (including dollars, euro, bitcoins and World of Warcraft gold) almost instantly and for free. It uses the blockchain technology, which can make all these verifications much more efficiently than SWIFT. Authentication is similar to bitcoin’s, but there are no miners.
As Ripple is expanding, a very curious phenomenon is happening regarding its reception by parties which, in theory, have the same interests. Santander, for example, openly supports Ripple and already adopts it, as it sees in it a way to attract more clients to allocate money on things that really give them substantial profit, which is sure not the transfer rates they charge. Around 100 other banks and services are also signed to Ripple, and you can make transactions between them instantly and for free.
Western Union, on the other hand, saw the company growth as a threat, as they are like the dog with the bone regarding the fees they charge per transaction. Executives at global banks have said that they wouldn’t ever entrust their clients’ payment to a cryptocurrency, too.
Even the cryptocurrency community is very divided by what they think about Ripple.
Proponents defend XRP (Ripple’s native cryptocurrency) as a mean to disseminate cryptocurrency culture to the mainstream, while others criticize it for not being truly decentralized and not secure enough, as they choose speed and efficiency by using few core validation nodes for fast transactions.
Ripple’s CEO has also been criticized for retaining 20% of the total Ripple pre-added to the system, but he later donated a lot of it to non-profits and charities. What we are seeing is a polarized reaction to Ripple and XPR which, on the surface, seems illogical. And this peculiar war will probably have a huge impact on what we should expect from Ripple in the future.