A look back at the growing distance between Ripple and XRP

Ripple is getting serious about breaking up with the XRP token, but it’s been serious for a while now.

Ripple (the Silicon Valley tech company) has recently been hit with a number of lawsuits alleging that XRP (a token used by Ripple in some of its products) was issued as an unlicensed security offering. Most of the lawsuits focus on XRP’s falling price, and speculators being rather put out with Ripple regarding the performance of the token.

For a while now, Ripple has been waiting for official clarity on whether or not XRP might be considered a security. Ripple spokespeople have consistently maintained that it’s not, but there are still clear connections between Ripple and XRP, the value of each is largely tied to the other and the XRP codebase was first released by Ripple.

Now, to emphasise the differences between Ripple and XRP, and perhaps assuage regulators and exchanges that might be leery about listing XRP if it means helping a rival business, the company has been deliberately building a clear gulf between the two.



The start of the gulf

With lawsuits, waffling coin prices and SEC scrutiny in the air, Ripple’s gotten a lot more serious about manufacturing a clearer divide between itself and XRP, and minimising any control that it might have over the XRP ledger. It’s been on the roadmap for a while though.

One of the clearer moves might have been around the start of 2018, when Ripple strongly suggested that the XRP network become more decentralised. This is what ended up happening, and the number of recognised unique XRP ledger nodes increased rapidly. Ripple’s involvement here is technically just to helpfully provide a list of recommended XRP nodes.

More recently, Ripple also sat on the sidelines and watched as an organic grassroots movement decided to create a new symbol for XRP, which had previously often been symbolised by Ripple’s fidget spinner-like logo.

It’s also donated some of its own XRP holdings to promising-looking startups that want to find a home on the XRP ledger, to help more companies realise the potential of the system for applications beyond Ripple’s forte of cross-border payments. There have even been a couple of ICOs on the XRP ledger to date. Ripple might not have been too thrilled at the prospect, but pointed out that the XRP ledger is public and open source so anyone can build whatever they want on it.

But building up the separation between Ripple and XRP, for the average person on the street, might not be quite as easy. To keep it front-of-mind, crypto price sites like CoinMarketCap changed “Ripple” to “XRP” and swapped out for the new logo, while Ripple has started more explicitly pointing out the differences with helpful infographics.

Because it’s closely involved with XRP, however, the Ripple site still offers an somewhat sparse list of places to buy XRP.

Whether the gap between Ripple and XRP is wide enough to convince regulators remains to be seen. Ripple might not own the XRP ledger, but it does hold the keys to the escrow account where most of the 100 billion XRP tokens in existence are currently locked away, and was pivotal in its creation.


Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC, XRB

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