December was undoubtedly a great month for the cryptocurrency market. Even though we emerging from a $150 billion correction, the overall result for the month was a success for crypto.

Ripple is no exception. The cryptocurrency was dormant for the first half of December. By the end of December 12th, everything changed. The value spiked, jumping from around $0,26 to an ATH of almost $0.90 in just forty-eight hours — almost quadrupling its price! On December 21st, Ripple broke the $1 barrier, finally reaching a historical ATH of $1.35 on the following day.

But what is Ripple exactly? Why does it cause so many heated discussions, even though it’s one of the most stable coins?

Once upon a time

The creation of Ripple actually predates Bitcoin. Canadian developer, Ryan FuggerIt’s developed an early version, RipplePay. The idea was to create a decentralized monetary system that would allow individuals and communities to create their own money. RipplePay.com debuted in 2005 as a financial service providing secure payment options to members of an online community. OpenCoin Inc., the company responsible for project development changed its name to Ripple Labs Inc. in September 2013. By then, Ripple’s idea was to have transactions verified by consensus among members of the network, rather than through mining.

Love it or hate it

Still, many dislike the coin, due to its connection to major financial institutions. Critics call Ripple “bankcoin.” Many of Bitcoin’s early adopters and cryptocurrency aficionados see cryptos as the ultimate escape from government and corporate control of financial markets. Thus, they see Ripple as a threat to everything that Bitcoin stands for. But Bitcoin is no longer the rebellious prodigy it was a few years ago. Market forces are turning it into a store of value and there are already better alternatives to it when it comes to some aspects such as fees, speed, and anonymity.

Ripple, however, was not developed to “help” banks, just as Bitcoin was not supposed to be an investment asset. But the market is very good at devising ways to make money. Reddit user ripcurldog states:

“The point of a few cryptos are to eliminate banks, but don’t forget that blockchain technology applies to pretty much every software based industry in existence. Ripples overall use case is much more than just the banking industry.”

Ugly duckling or a growing swan?

But what is Ripple’s goal exactly? Ripple’s own definition is of a real-time gross settlement system (RTGS), currency exchange and remittance network. Ripple is revolutionizing international finance by making it possible to transfer money around the world within seconds. That has excited major financial institutions. With all the hype surrounding cryptocurrencies these days, surprisingly, there has only been limited media attention. Even though it has a market cap of over $44 billion, making it the fourth largest cryptocurrency according to Coinmarketcap. Ripple’s market cap is just a little less than Litecoin, IOTA, Cardano, and Dash combined.

Another great advantage of Ripple is that it’s also much more stable than most cryptocurrencies. While it has seen some huge swings value, Ripple experiences far less volatility than almost any other cryptocurrency.

The idea behind Ripple is creating the “Internet of Value”, a concept where money moves seamlessly across borders as data. This is why the project has sparked so much interest from banking institutions. We have reported in November that American Express had made a partnership with Ripple, and earlier this month that Asian banks were already testing solutions based on Ripple’s blockchain.

Also in November, Ripple held the Ripple Central Bank Summit in New York, where representatives of the IMF discussed the possibilities of Ripple’s protocol. This only shows how seriously banking institutions are taking the technology. This connection with financial institutions shows that Ripple will definitely secure its position as a bridge between the cryptocurrency world and that of traditional finance.

Bridge currency

Speaking of bridges, a feature of Ripple that isn’t widely known is the Bitcoin Bridge design feature. This feature launched in 2013 and makes it possible to pay any Bitcoin user straight from a Ripple account without needing to own the digital currency. Additionally, any merchant accepting Bitcoin has the potential to accept any currency in the world. Within the network’s currency exchange, XRP trades freely against other currencies, which can be necessary if no direct exchange is available between two currencies at a specific time.

Future of Finance?

Ripple is at the forefront of technological development in the cross-border payment industry. Although many people still criticize the coin, they are no longer able to claim it has no utility. The clear interest of major players in the financial industry shows that Ripple has the potential to streamline global trade and finance. It’s no longer a question of “if,” but “when?”

At press time, Ripple has already recovered from the market correction along almost every other currency and trades at around $1.18.