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The XRP Ledger is a decentralized cryptographic ledger powered by a network of peer-to-peer servers. The XRP Ledger is the home of XRP, a digital asset designed to bridge the many different currencies in use worldwide. Ripple stewards the development of the XRP Ledger, and advances XRP as a key contribution to the Internet of Value: a world in which money moves the way information does today.
XRP is a digital asset native to the XRP Ledger. Anyone with a cryptographic key and an internet connection can receive, hold, and send XRP to anyone else. XRP's creators have developed it to be a desirable bridge currency that can facilitate trades in any other currency. XRP has many properties which make it an appealing asset for many other use cases, too:
- Censorship-Resistant Transaction Processing: No single party decides which XRP transactions succeed or fail, and no one can "roll back" a transaction after it completes. As long as those who choose to participate in the network keep it healthy, they can send and receive XRP in seconds.
- Fast, Efficient Consensus Algorithm: The XRP Ledger's consensus algorithm settles transactions in 4 to 5 seconds, processing at a throughput of up to 1500 transactions per second. These properties put XRP at least an order of magnitude ahead of other top digital assets.
- Finite XRP Supply: When the XRP Ledger began, 100 billion XRP were created, and no more XRP will ever be created. (Each XRP is subdivisible down to 6 decimal places, for a grand total of 100 quintillion drops of XRP.) The available supply of XRP decreases slowly over time as small amounts are destroyed to pay transaction costs.
- Responsible Software Governance: A team of full-time, world-class developers at Ripple maintain and continually improve the XRP Ledger's underlying software. Ripple acts as a steward for the technology and an advocate for its interests, and builds constructive relationships with governments and financial institutions worldwide.
- Secure, Adaptable Cryptography: The XRP Ledger relies on industry standard digital signature systems like ECDSA (the same scheme used by Bitcoin) but also supports modern, efficient algorithms like Ed25519. The extensible nature of the XRP Ledger's software makes it possible to add and disable algorithms as the state of the art in cryptography advances.
- Modern Features for Smart Contracts: Features like Escrow, Checks, and Payment Channels support cutting-edge financial applications including the Interledger Protocol. This toolbox of advanced features comes with safety features like a process for amending the network and separate checks against invariant constraints.
- On-Ledger Decentralized Exchange: In addition to all the features that make XRP useful on its own, the XRP Ledger also has a fully-functional accounting system for tracking and trading obligations denominated in any way users want, and an exchange built into the protocol. The XRP Ledger can settle long, cross-currency payment paths and exchanges of multiple currencies in atomic transactions, bridging gaps of trust with XRP
The XRP Ledger's biggest difference from most cryptocurrencies is that it uses a unique consensus algorithm that does not require the time and energy of "mining", the way other such systems do. Instead of "proof of work" or even "proof of stake", The XRP Ledger's consensus algorithm uses a system where every participant has an overlapping set of "trusted validators" and those trusted validators efficiently agree on which transactions happen in what order.
A single XRP transaction uses a negligible amount of electricity, and takes 4 or 5 seconds to confirm.
Furthermore, each new "ledger version" in the XRP Ledger (the equivalent of a "block") contains the full current state of all balances, so a server can synchronize with the network in minutes instead of spending hours downloading and re-processing the full transaction history.