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What is XRP?

XRP is the cryptocurrency supported by the XRP Ledger.

What Is Cryptocurrency?

A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography and tracked using a blockchain. The security and integrity of cryptocurrency makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend.

XRP on the blockchain

Cryptocurrencies, digital currencies, and digital assets all fall into the same general category. Cryptocurrencies are:

  • digitally native (meaning they are built for the internet)
  • programmable
  • fast to transfer at a low cost
  • open and transparent
  • not restricted by borders or governments (so no need for nostro accounts that hold funds in another country)
  • not subject to counterfeit
  • do not require a bank account or infrastructure to settle payments.

Advantages of cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies are fungible tokens. Fungible means that you can replace one token with other tokens of equal value. Postage is an example of a fungible token: if it costs 50 cents to mail a letter, you can use 2 25-cent stamps or 5 10-cent stamps for the postage, because postage stamps are fungible (consistent in relative value and interchangeable).

Cryptocurrencies are also decentralized. There’s no central authority governing the currency. Once a transaction is on the blockchain you cannot change it. It is difficult to censor cryptocurrency: so long as the system is sufficiently decentralized, no one can roll back transactions, freeze balances, or block someone from using a decentralized digital asset. Rules do not change without significant coordination among all participants.

Cryptocurrencies are compelling for investors and developers because no single entity can “pull the plug” on them and have them disappear.

But Why Is It Valuable?

Advantages of cryptocurrencies

It might seem strange that cryptocurrency is based solely on computer data, and not on any sort of tangible commodity such as precious metal. Traditionally, currencies have been based on cattle, sea shells, rare metals, stones, or other physical objects. But these items have value only because there was agreement between people in a culture.

While it might seem safer to have something “real” in your hand, many people wouldn’t know fool’s gold from the actual thing, or cubic zirconia from a genuine diamond. Paper money can be counterfeit. You can forget you have a $10 bill in your pocket and ruin it in the wash. It is costly to safely store and transport valuable items for payment.

The value of cryptocurrency comes from the faith that holders place in the currency. Given the distributed nature of the records and the cryptographic safeguards to secure the funds, cryptocurrency could be considered a much more robust, secure, and convenient form of currency than traditional fiat currencies.

XRP is Cryptocurrency

The XRP Ledger was built over 2011 – early 2012 by Jed McCaleb, Arthur Britto and David Schwartz. At the time of its creation, there were 100 billion XRP. In September 2012, Jed and Arthur, along with Chris Larsen formed Ripple (the company, called OpenCoin Inc. at the time) and decided to gift 80 billion XRP to Ripple in exchange for Ripple developing on the XRP Ledger.

One Hundred Billion with a "B"

Since then, the company has regularly sold XRP, used it to strengthen XRP markets and improve network liquidity, and incentivized development of the greater ecosystem. In 2017, the company placed 55 billion XRP in escrow to ensure that the amount entering the general supply grows predictably for the foreseeable future. Ripple's XRP Market Performance site reports how much XRP the company has available and locked in escrow at present.

Man with one XRP


Originally, the XRP Ledger was called "Ripple" for the way the technology allowed payments to ripple through multiple hops and currencies. For the native asset built into the ledger, the creators chose the ticker symbol "XRP" from the term "ripple credits" or "ripples" and the X prefix for non-national currencies in the ISO 4217 standard. The company registered itself as "Ripple Labs". The name "XRP" came to be used to refer to the asset in all contexts, to avoid confusion with the similar names for the technology and company, and eventually the company shortened its own name to "Ripple". In May 2018, the community selected a new "X" symbol to represent XRP to differentiate it from the triskelion logo that had previously been used for both the company and the digital asset.

XRP "X" LogoRipple triskelion
"X" logoTriskelion


"XRP" is a registered trademark of the XRPL Foundation in the U.S.A. and other countries like China and Estonia.

The trademark application was registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2013 with OpenCoin Inc and Ripple Labs Inc as assignees. In 2022, the trademark assignment was updated and is now assigned to the MITTETULUNDUSÜHING XRP LEDGER TRUST (“XRPLF”).

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