With the overall market in a bearish cycle and media attention dying down, now signals the time that individual companies show if they truly have a future, or if they were only interested in fast returns. While numerous projects and teams are dying by the dozen, you must look to the big market cap projects to see where the real development is.
Ripple and Stellar are two of the biggest crypto currencies and blockchain based organizations in the crypto sphere today. These two are long time competitive rivals with numerous similarities and goals. During this bearish decline, the progress these organizations make will determine who will be the market leader for the foreseeable future.
The Ongoing Rivalry
Ripple was formed by Chris Larsen and Jed McCalen in 2012, before the infamous Mt.Gox scandal (an exchange also built by Jed) and before the crypto currency sphere had captured the attention of the masses. Reportedly, Jed was interested in implementing new protocols on Ripple and ideas to distribute native tokens widely through platforms such as Facebook that the rest of the organization did not agree with. Ultimately, the differences and tension with the board led to Jed’s separation from Ripple Labs and the developer began work on the Stellar blockchain with former lawyer, Joyce Kim. Ripple and Stellar have the same premise and use case, however their intended market audience is different. Both organizations aim to be the de-facto payment network for cross border transactions and currency exchanges.
The original concept behind Ripple was to overcome the challenges and inefficiencies behind international and cross border payment systems. Their main focus is the banking industry who’s systems currently utilize the clunky and archaic Swift protocol to facilitate cross border transactions. The Ripple network will enable banks to utilize blockchain technology to make payments and transfers instant, secure and vastly cheaper, while providing liquidity with the XRP token.
In a similar fashion, McCalen pushed forward the development of the Stellar open source protocol which would “allow cross-border monetary transactions including fiat and digital currencies.” Both networks exist without mining, and the code bases are also very similar, as to be expected with Jed working on both personally.
One key difference is that Stellar claims to be targeting everyday users for their network, not focusing exclusively on the banking sector as Ripple has been doing. Analysts predict that both groups could converge at a point in the future, with the two companies pursuing both target audiences.
2018 Has Been A Busy Year
Though 2018 has proven to be a gloomy year for crypto currency markets, both Ripple and Stellar have made a lot of progress in their own right and have proven they are looking to the future and are not getting caught up in present details. This ensures that both organizations are forward thinking and aim to actually deliver on their promises and achieve the goals set out in their respective roadmaps.
Late last year, Stellar announced a partnership with the computer giant IBM. It seems IBM has big aspirations in mind and is leaping into the blockchain sector with Stellar as their main partner. In September, IBM launched a blockchain based payment network called Blockchain World Wire, using Stellar’s network for all transactions and settlements. Speaking on this new development, Jed McCaleb said:
IBM’s implementation of the Stellar protocol has the potential to change the way money is moved around the world, helping to drastically improve international transactions and advancing financial inclusion in developing nations.
The partnership with IBM is proving to be expansive, with further plans to create a dedicated stable coin on the Stellar platform called Stronghold. This is in addition to numerous other projects Stellar is working on with IBM, including public and private distributed ledger networks.
When it comes to reaching new user bases, Stellar has just taken a huge step. Muslim groups have thus far been very hesitant to utilize crypto currencies and blockchain technology due to religious and societal restrictions. In July 2018, Stellar received a certification designating full Sharia Law compliance. This means that Stellar will now be able to expand their infrastructure into the middle east, including the wealthy and technologically advanced Dubai. In addition, XLM is now permitted for use and investment from the 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide.
Ripple has had it’s own share of exciting developments throughout 2018. Ripple is rapidly adding new partnerships with some of the biggest banks and financial institutions worldwide. With reported partnerships around 120 organisations and counting, it seems everyone from JP Morgan, to AMEX are joining RippleNet and are testing Ripple’s technology. Most institutions are interested to see if Ripple’s payment systems can provide a better alternative to their legacy payment solutions like Swift.
Like Stellar, Ripple has also had progress in the Middle East with partnerships with the National Bank of Saudi Arabia. The Kuwait Finance House, the biggest bank in Kuwait, has also announced they are testing Ripple’s technology. This year has proven to be an enormous year for Ripple with partnerships and new infrastructure around the world.
The year has also brought some negative attention to Ripple with various lawsuits being raised and closed. The blockchain startup R3 originally opened a lawsuit against ripple in 2017 for violating a partnership agreement. The lawsuit was closed this year for an undisclosed settlement. Ripple’s legal trouble haven’t ended there however. A consolidated class action lawsuit has been filled by several plaintiffs, all alleging that Ripple has committed securities fraud. This lawsuit is heading to the federal court and will continue into 2019.
Additionally, there has been a lot of investor uncertainty throughout the year regarding the SEC’s interest in Ripple. Many are wondering if the SEC will eventually motion to label XRP as a security, though they have not released their statement yet. The CEO of Ripple, Brad Garlinghouse, stated:
Security is something that represents ownership in a company that gives you rights to dividends, give you rights to governance, things like that. Ripple and XRP are two separate entities. When you buy XRP, that doesn’t give you any rights to the profits or ownership of Ripple the company.
Source: Global Coin Report
Can These Two Blockchains Coexist?
Analysts and crypto enthusiasts around the wonder ponder the question “can Ripple and Stellar coexist?” The answer is complex and not yet available. In theory, if both organizations continue to focus on separate target groups for their technology, then they could possibly exist in harmony. This certainly seems to be the opinion of Jed:
Stellar and ripple are going after two completely different use cases as far as I can tell so I don’t understand the continued hostility.
Jed posted the above as reply on a Quora answer written by David Schwartz, the current CTO of Ripple to the question, “Why did Jed McCaleb leave Ripple to start Stellar?”
With the very public history between the two organizations, it is doubtful that either would let the other get too far ahead. The two are intertwined even on a speculative level when you view the native XRP and XLM tokens. The two like to move in tandem and mirror each other’s movements. While XLM has not had quite the same explosive returns that XRP brought in 2016-2017, the charts and very similar and the smaller movements are always reflective of one another.
It is likely that the competitive nature will continue between these two for years to come. While Ripple has the first mover advantage and deep pocket backers, Stellar has made a lot of progress for themselves since their conception. Keep an eye on the progress and partnerships being made, but we will have to wait to see what the future holds for Ripple and Stellar.
Who you’re reading:
Anthony is a journalist and blockchain enthusiast that closely follows the day to day happenings in the crypto space. With a lifelong passion for technology and investing, cryptocurrency presented itself as the perfect platform to explore new concepts while we envision the future of finance and the internet. He considers blockchain to be the most innovative and exciting space in the world and plans to continue following wherever this technological revolution takes us.
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Disclaimer: Any and all opinions expressed here are those of Anthony Barraclough alone. The article is for educational and/or entertainment purposes only, so please use it at your own risk.