Ripple, the Charade – Trustnodes

Ripple, the Charade


It was meant to be one of the biggest speech in the crypto space. Former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, was to talk blockchain. What insight could he bring following his role at the top when the internet came of age? Was this to be a defining moment for the crypto space?

It most probably would have been had Bill Clinton chosen to attend out of his own free will, rather than probably paid for it. Yet within minutes it became apparent he was there more as a clown, as an entertainment figure, as, what we may even call, a deception.

How much he was paid for this appearance is unclear, yet just how unethical the act appears to be probably needs no elaboration.

Watched by many, the former President spent his time to talk about Brexit, the IRA, Bosnia, everything except blockchain tech.

Any insight that might have been expected turned into wondering how this might now reflect on the rest of the crypto space.

Yet Ripple has never been anything like the rest of the crypto space. They never cared about trustlessness or permissionless. They may give lip service to innovation, but not one line of code was presented at the “conference.” They may claim they have a blockchain, but it is at best a private and permissioned blockchain that requires a great deal of trust.

Hence one can say they’ve missed the point for while in their marketing they try and conflate, at the foundations of it Ripple is a database with 55 administrators selected by Ripple the company.

All banks run databases. The problem is they don’t trust each other’s databases because of course an employee might have changed something somewhere accidentally or intentionally.

In Ripple, it needs to be 20% of administrators that do so, making it slightly better than a simple database, but still something that requires a great deal of trust not least because half of the administrators are run by Ripple itself.

If therefore bank A wanted to send money to bank B, the problem there isn’t communication, but verification that the money has indeed moved and A doesn’t still have it.

That verification takes days and has to go through SWIFT, which is sort of a consortiums of banks, but at the end of it everyone can be fairly sure that the money has moved.

With Ripple, you can be sure with small amounts because no one would bother. But if we’re talking say a one billion dollars payment, you have to trust Ripple has actually moved it from A to B and hasn’t done so while still leaving A with that one billion.

If they do still leave A with a billion, who would know? Here, for example, is their “blockchain” as seen by the world:

Top crypto blockchains, October 2018.

We can see what’s going on in bitcoin, eth, and the rest. So we can be fairly sure there is no double spending, money isn’t being printed out of thin air, and so on.

We have no clue, however, about what’s going on in Ripple. All we know is what we are told by Ripple and the few other validators who seemingly only share transaction numbers. Ripple’s consensus whitepaper says these validators are trusted:

“Each server, s, maintains a unique node list, which is a set of other servers that s queries when determining consensus. Only the votes of the other members of the UNL of s are considered when determining consensus (as opposed to every node on the network).

Thus the UNL represents a subset of the network which when taken collectively, is “trusted” by s to not collude in an attempt to defraud the network. Note that this definition of “trust” does not require that each individual member of the UNL be trusted.”

In mudding the waters, Ripple has caused confusion by calling some servers as validators and showing explorers with many of them. The servers, however, do not sign the ledger and are at best a light wallet like the ones on your smartphone. This is clearly shown by Ripple stating:

“Once you are running a server, the additional cost and effort to operate a validator is essentially zero.”

The cost obviously can’t be zero if you’re maintaining accounts of hundreds of thousands of transactions running a day, unless you are doing what you’re told and not quite validating.

The actual database administrators are just 55, and that includes Microsoft, MIT, as well as others, with Ripple running more than half of them while approving who can run an administrator node.

The paper further says “values of pc greater than 20% will result in expected cartels of size greater than 20% of the network, thwarting the consensus process.”

While in bitcoin you need 50% to be honest, and in eth there may be fraud proof techniques where you need just 1% to be honest, thus 99% can be dishonest, in XRP you have an attack vector of just 20%. That’s 10 administrators or just one employee within Ripple.

There may thus be chatter about banks utilizing Ripple, but that’s not very true as far as XRP is concerned and it is probably not true because banks have no reason to trust Ripple’s database when they don’t trust other bank’s databases.

“Banks are unlikely to use distributed ledgers to process cross-border payments for now because of scalability and privacy issues, according to Ripple.” So said Reuters this summer.

Just last month, Sagar Sarbhai, Government & Regulatory relations at Ripple, made a fairly big revelation which went unnoticed. He said:

“In 2016, we gave 12 banks some XRP to test internally and they loved it!!! They wanted to use XRP but they couldn’t because a lack of regulatory certainty.”

Who doesn’t love free money. Following this Bill Clinton debacle, we now have to wonder whether Ripple is paying banks to “pilot” XRP. Santander, of course, has invested in Ripple. So how much is potentially just a marketing ploy is unclear.

Take xRapid, which is a nice and a very old idea. Instead of using SWIFT to reconcile databases, you use crypto to prove that the money has actually moved and has not been created out of thin air.

The way you do so in xRapid is fairly simple. You fund an account say on Coinbase, you buy whichever crypto you want, you send it to an exchange in say South Africa, sell it for South African money and then you withdraw it to your South African bank account.

The movement of crypto itself is quite easy, but we have to move fiat here from your bank account to Coinbase. That costs in fees, and can take five days. We then have to move fiat again from the South African exchange to your South African bank account. Again that can take time and can cost in fees.

With Ripple there would be additional problems as you have to trust Ripple to not double spend. Then there would be more general problems applicable for most cryptos.

The simplest one is the spread/difference between the buy price and the sell price. If you are moving much funds, that spread can be considerable and amounts to an additional fee on top.

A more complex one is volatility. Although the buying and selling is meant to happen with minutes, there have been times when the price has crashed or has significantly increased in minutes.

That can be a considerable cost and would raise the obvious question of why use XRP when you can use DAI or some other stable coin, needing not deal with spreads or with volatility.

If the latter is used, then there may be some end to end savings. In addition, the transfer through crypto can be within minutes end to end in Europe as there they have instant transfers between bank accounts within the same country.

XRP, however, might be an appealing option for banks or other payment companies as they might be able to buy them directly from Ripple at a steep discount, making the xRapid component irrelevant.

Ripple has sold some $70 million worth of XRP during this summer and has billions still. They are being added to the market constantly, with the price kept afloat, at least partially, by these marketing gimmicks like Bill Clinton.

Yet these discounted XRP would be bough off market, but then would be sold on the market to transfer it internationally. Something which may put some pressure on price rather than the opposite as many seem to think.

Once that discount factor is taken out, then price volatility may make xRapid not very competitive, certainly compared to stablecoins, but potentially also compared to current traditional methods.

So it may be the case some banks start to join and even utilize xRapid, but unless they buy XRP on the market, rather than at a steep discount off Ripple, then fundamentally it would be a gimmick and a charade of sorts because they wouldn’t really be utilizing xRapid, but instead would buy an asset for very cheap and would quickly sell it at market rates.

International remittance has of course been an identified use case in this space for long and plenty of start-ups rose to take the opportunity. The problem is that because of the fees between exchanges and bank accounts, and because of volatility, it can work fine in a bull market but may quickly lead to bankruptcy in a bear market.

Ripple hasn’t changed any of that aspect. To the contrary, they’ve replaced it with the most volatile coin out of the top ones, XRP, when they should be utilizing DAI or other stablecoins if they really wanted to solve a problem that has a sustainable profit-making use case.

Understandably, however, Ripple’s primary problem is off-loading their XRP to someone else, with xRapid a reasonable use case for that specific problem in the short term. Something which may benefit the banks if they get the ripple at a discount, but if it benefits other ripple holders, remains to be seen.



Comments (40)

  1. WOW what a load of scaremonging FUD and basically rubbish and false news..

  2. Crappy fake, the writer has no idea what he is talking about as it clearly shows he / she doesn’t even understand the decentralized model of XRP which is more elaborate then Eth or BTC.

  3. All that time writing up this load of nonsense could have been spent educating yourself about the technology of creating a decentralized and permission-less currency without the need for mining. Your loss.

    1. Funny you say that, because it’s the top most centralized currency and might as well be called a digital fiat currency rather than a cryptocurrency. Stop being stubborn and ignorant.

      1. The same could be said about you. There is a plethora of information about XRP’s supposed centralization as well as detail on strides Ripple is making to reduce centralization. Can the same be said of Bitcoin? I find that it sometimes helps to pull oneself’s head out of oneself’s ass from time to time and actually learn something instead of just regurgitating the latest diatribe you read on “crypto” purist forums. People want XRP to fails so badly, but in reality if it’s successful, it could lead to mass adoption of other coins as well.

  4. Horribe article. Highly uneducated author. He doesn’t understand the difference between the permissioned network ripple net, and the decentralized permissionelss network the XRP Ledger.

  5. Also there is no trust at all. The only trust is in yourself that the UNL configured is diverse enough. If it’s not, you change, very simple. You don’t understand proof of correctness at all, or blockchain for that matter. Ripple does not want to offload thier xrp, notice how they only sell .01-.1% of global volume quarterly. AND 2/3 of it is sold on exchange not OTC. All this information is public. It’s never gonna be downward pressure because it’s less than .01% of the total volume.

  6. Biased and untrue. Sad how eople write lies to influence others. I guess the author likes the current status quoof lying ro others to promote their own agenda. So sad. Put away your keyboard, you are doing people a disservice!

  7. The only charade here is the person who wrote this rubbish and trying to pass themselves off as a serious writer…poor technical knowlege, poor research and a writing style that reminds me of a 12 year old

  8. Who is the moron that wrote the piece of nonsense above! There is no point in even starting to address the inaccuracies and downright fabrication in this ‘article’ – anyone thinking of investing in XRP please discount this rubbish, do a little research of your own from better quality sources and form your own conclusions.

  9. Author has no clue how the XRPLedger is designed. Also, has no clue how xRapid work (which is pretty sad because it is documented all over the internet).

    Author provides his biased opinion on the XRPLedger rather than using factual arguments.

  10. Bullshit prime time ladies and gentlemen; not one point this article makes is true. DYOR

  11. You really should’ve done more research. None of what you mention has not already been refuted by rational argument.

    But I guess this is more one of those editorials where the author can bullshit to his heart’s content. You probably hold one of the archaic “cryptocurrencies” that are bound to disappear due to inherent design flaws. Reality always wins.

  12. What a terrible write-up. But I won’t be punished by reading stuff like this again, as I am blocking Trustnodes from my news feed.

  13. What a scathing report. So much time and effort, for what. Not to mention. Anonymous. What ripple the company has done, is hands down , best in the industry. Also, (POW) coins are destroying the planet and offer absolutely nothing to society.

  14. Wow… This “writer” knows nothing about the XRP Protocol and the XRP Ledger at all!! What a shame!!

    There are only 2 options here:

    1.- The author really lacks knowledge about the XRP Ledger and Protocol.
    2.- The Author is just Lieying.

  15. So many comments, not one to address the actual points made, all instead just petty insults. The character limit here is many words, go ahead, show which well sourced point is incorrect. We do make mistakes now and then, naturally, but if it is some misunderstanding, then show it.

    1. I addressed many wrong points in your article with sources.

    2. The main issue is your fundamental lack of understanding about the XRP Ledger. You claim the XRP Ledger is private and permisssionless. This is completely false. Anyone can transact on or be a part of the network. No permission at all is needed. And anyone can see the ledger. You happen to use a comparison site there that does not show statistics for XRP. I don’t know why they don’t, because all of that information is publicly visible on the network, they just have chosen not to show it.

      The way the consensus protocol works, each node operator chooses a set of validator nodes they trust, as a collective set would not collude. You do not need to trust any individual node. Just trust that you have enough nodes and from a diverse set of operators that 80% of them would not collude against you. To be clear, it is each node operator that chooses whomever they want on that list.

      For convenience, Ripple publish a recommended list you can use. That list contains a mix of validators from both Ripple and other independent operators. Ripple’s nodes make up a minority of that list. As of writing there are over 200 validator nodes on the network you could use.

      So Ripple the company do not in any way control the XRP Ledger. They contribute to it and run a number of nodes on the network, but they do not have any majority in any way, and so are not able to do anything on the network against the will of the majority.

      So, I would urge you to please update your article, as it is currently grossly inaccurate. I am more than happy to discuss his further with you if you need any further clarification.

  16. At this moment in time, which I hope will pass, anyone with a smartphone can share their uneducated opinion. We all can misspell from time to time. But when I reading a published article that comes through on my google feed, and the first paragraph has grammatical errors, the whole article is suspect. Then the lack of understanding the decentralized nature of XRP versus other crypto makes this article a waste of 15 minutes of my life.

  17. You are all trolls trying to shoot down a reporter that is not selling out to garbage architecture. All of you whining are clinging to hope that the XRP you bought at $2.50 will have any resemblance of life

    1. XRP was .005 last year, and .19 8 months ago ( when BTC was around the same price it is now). XRP market dominance has increased dramatically over other cryptos.

  18. Good article. Interesting comments. Other than some opinions (subjective) made in the article, I find it to be objectively accurate. Well done.

  19. So, you really, really need to do your research before writing an article that well clearly shows you have no clue what you are talking about. Of course you cannot see mining data from XRP. Oh wait for it, it is not MINABLE. Really please do your correct research before your write something on the internet please.

  20. Someone has a chip on his shoulders the size of Mt Everest.

  21. BTW there are almost 1000 validators
    The xrp ledger is the most decentralized digital asset, its literally a decentralized exchange, you can see everything going on with the ledger just like an other.
    There are several recommended UNLs, and users can also use a custom UNL.

    XRP is the only crypto that is really censorship resistant. Bitcoin is controlled by 3 miners.

  22. Whomever wrote this has no clue. “May benefit the banks if they get the Ripple…” lol, that made me laugh. Do your research so you won’t look like an imbecilic moron.

  23. Swell in invite only exactly because the people going there aren’t there for the “code” as you complain about. It’s the business side of things, companies looking to move billions/trillions of dollars. They are there to rub elbows and discuss how this tech will benefit the entire sector.

    The author of this article has no clue what the conference is about, let alone what XRP is about. You have demonstrated to the world that you have no clue what the actual purpose of SWELL was and write a long ranting whiny piece that cements your ignorance in stone.

    Your article would be like me going to GameCon and then complaining there was no one talking about the economics of gaming or how the distribution and supply chain dynamics work for X or Y video games. That’s because at something like that nobody actually cares about that side of the business. Just like at SWELL, it’s purpose is not the raw code or down to the metal programming. It’s a business oriented conference.

    Sounds like this uneducated whiny “author” was paid by the word, because he rambles on about something he doesn’t understand or care to understand. I can see why he/she wouldn’t attach their name to the article, I wouldn’t want to be associated with such a poor excuse for journalism either.

  24. The author of this FUD should ear a bag of Dicks! What a bunch of bull to the author and editor of this shift Kill yourself @

  25. Writer is aDIIIIIIIICK!

  26. Writer is a diiiiiiiiick!

    1. Trustnodes , whatever the Fuck that is NEEDS TO FIRE THIS ASSHOLE

  27. Many great points in the article, some of which I’ve been trying to give clarity on to the unthinking majority. People will continue to believe XRP though sadly as they’re lured into the coin with mainly the supply lockup that got them started and then a flood of paid news and celebrities. Now that it’s a top 5 coin because of this illegitimate market activity, people now look at it like a staple.

    XRP relies on trust of a 3rd party, or overlords of our value as I like to say, The supply is controlled and manipulated to their own benefit and also is used indirectly as a bribe to gain false and misleading supporters that will try to market this coin themselves and continue to lead a network of uncertainty and lies while always seemingly lacking clarity in any of their own words, and as a result forming an entire community behind XRP that fail to argue, can’t argue, and are unwilling to argue any points as to how this new digital fiat would be beneficial. Don’t be bothered by numbers, because there are many instances where the vast majority can often be wrong, especially in this generation. The masses tend to follow each other and will follow whoever it is they’re connected with when it comes to this space, no knowledge needed whatsoever, like the people in these comments. I encourage you people to try and explain the vision and history of XRP without making yourselves look like fools, without telling lies, and without missing the deeper more important details. YouTubers only talk about XRP’s price, and when they try to name a pro, the only pros that come out is speed and fees, that’s it. Speed and fees isn’t why cryptocurrencies came into existence. If you want a true cryptocurrency to spend with low fees and fast payments that benefits all people, ETN is your best bet. BTC would be the one to use as a savings and store of value. XRP is for people that still want the old system to let them continue being sheep while they act as parasites.

  28. Wow…. This clown sounds like Alex Jones on paper. Clueless idiot.

    Sometimes, people write these kind of offensive articles in the hope that people will enter the real email address to write a post and they will sell that at $2 an Addy.

  29. So viel schlechter, nein schrecklicher Onlinejournalismus! Such dir einen Job

  30. Whilst trying to carry themselves off as having done their research it is very clear this ‘writer’ has merely read XRP FUD book 1, 2 and 3 and then spewed it back out with a few gramatical changes.

    Very obviously has no idea about the XRP tech, how the consensus mechanism and XRapid work and probably has a hidden agenda.

    The number of incorrect statements in this article is staggering. I thought some were bad but its as though this writer actually tried to make this as bad as possible!

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