On Friday, Ripple surpassed Ethereum to become the second most valuable cryptocurrency by market capitalisation where it remains now. Ripple has flown under the radar somewhat compared to Bitcoin and Ethereum, but it has some extremely high-profile backers including some of the largest investment banks.

Ripple is different to Bitcoin and Ethereum, for starters it can’t be mined, and it is operated by a private company, Ripple Labs. This makes it more centralised than other cryptocurrencies. It is also different because it Ripple’s XRP tokens are backed by traditional currencies – it exists as a solution to the global problem of transferring money from one country to another rather than to be a digital currency in its own right.

If I wish to send money internationally using traditional systems it can take 3-5 days for my money to clear. With Bitcoin it takes anything from 10 minutes to an hour or more. Ethereum is two minutes. XRP can transfer money and settle payments in 4 seconds.

To put it simply:

Bitcoin is a store of wealth and digital money

Ethereum is a blockchain-based distributed computing platform

Ripple is a system for sending international payments

So why has Ripple’s price soared in recent days? An announcement that three Japanese credit card companies signing up to use Ripple is reportedly behind the rise.

Altcoins Hit New Highs

What also happened last week but lesser reported, was that the market capitalisation of Altcoins (all cryptocurrencies excluding Bitcoin) hit a new high of $387 billion. Bitcoin tends to steal the limelight but it’s the Altcoins where the excitement and potential lies.

Blockchain technology is hugely disruptive and it is the Altcoins powering this disruption. Coinmarketcap tracks 1372 cryptocurrencies, that’s 1372 potential ways that tokenised Blockchain startups will change the world, it’s a hugely exciting space.

Here’s to hitting new highs in 2018!