Ripple is a strange addition to the cryptocurrency market, and it’s because it’s technically not a cryptocurrency. Ripple is a transaction protocol for currency transactions. Just like SMTP is a protocol for emails that allows people to send emails to each other, despite what client they use, Ripple aims to be just that for money. What it does is it enables secure, instant and nearly free global financial transactions of any size with no way for chargebacks to happen. This is exactly what Bitcoin does, though, which leads to question what makes Ripple any different.

The difference

For one thing, Ripple is designed to handle currency exchanges much easier. There is no need to go to an independent exchange for getting your currency changed to your preferred currency. You can actually indicate it in your transaction. For example, you send out your money in Bitcoin and indicated that the receiver get it in euro. It can also be done vice-versa. The Ripple protocol has several banks behind it and is fast becoming adopted by other financial institutions because of this feature.

To do all this, it requires the use of XRP. This is Ripple’s own cryptocurrency, designed to act as the bridge currency during transactions. People can actually buy it, but it is more useful as a way to bridge the currencies being exchanged.

Starting out

Considering how useful it can be, there are quite a few people interested in using Ripple. When you want to become part of the Ripple network, the first step is to open an account on the network. Technically, this is what a Ripple wallet would be if it was a normal cryptocurrency. However, considering how Ripple works, a wallet would be an inappropriate name. It is more like a gateway for transactions than an actual means of storage.

The first step is to download the Ripple client. Although the project is open-source, the main client has seen not much competition, so it stands as the best option out there. Once installed, the Ripple client should allow you to set up an account. As part of the registration procedure, you will be given a secret key. This will allow you to further access your account in the future, so it is important that you remember it. There is no information that you need to give to get an account, you just need to give a password.

To finally activate your account, you’ll need to have 25 XRP in it. Get it from giveaways or a friend. You can even buy it at various gateway sites. XRPSs are pre-mined so there’s no need to worry about mining or staking. After that, you should be ready to use Ripple.