Blockchain technology and its uses as cryptocurrency have grown in prominence in recent years and technological analysts and economists alike can’t discredit the leaps it has made across a variety of sectors. Bitcoin may be synonymous with our uses of digital currency, but as Bitcoin helped open the door for what cryptocurrency could do, its successors in the blockchain field have adapted what Bitcoin can do. What alternatives are there and how do they build on from Bitcoin?
Ripple’s uses as a cryptocurrency are vast, but it’s not just the currency that has people interested in its benefits – it is also a platform based on an open-source protocol. The platform of digital transactions doesn’t require the use of Ripple (XRP) and only takes a commission of $0.00001. The Ripple token is used almost as a joker card in order to stand in for other currencies to minimize the commission when transferring currencies and fiat.
XRP represents the transfer of value across the platform. Indeed, the uses of Ripple have been seen in banks who are considering exchanging their current SWIFT payments for Ripple. Those wishing to make trades on the platform can buy Ripple to take advantage of the border less payment system that doesn’t cost as much in transactions and is almost instant.
Some suggest that Ripple could be the future of digital payment methods. The ability for Ripple to integrate with existing banks could help them tackle some of their biggest challenges as we move towards a world that wants money faster, across borders, and in a digital format.
Ethereum is another example of cryptocurrency, but unlike Bitcoin, it is more favored for its underlying use as a decentralized ledger. Ethereum uses blockchain’s features for smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps) to be free from third-party interference. Ether, the currency of Ethereum, is used both as a coin to exchange and also to run apps on the Ethereum system and to monetize work.
Ethereum has partnered with Microsoft through ConsenSys, which offers Ethereum Blockchain as a service on Microsoft Azure for a single-click cloud-based developer environment. Ether is seeing a rising market capitalization and doesn’t directly compete with Bitcoin, allowing it to have some room to grow in the blockchain industry.
Allowing apps and contracts to run on the network provides them with the same security and privacy features that attracted many people to cryptocurrency and Bitcoin in the first place. So building on this as Ethereum has done shows a huge untapped market for its use. On another level, Ethereum was crowdfunded, meaning it isn’t halted like Bitcoin by more than 50% of the currency being mined already.
Bitcoin may be the household name in blockchain and cryptocurrency, but the alternatives are definitely making their mark on the industry. As Bitcoin may have a limited range of features, each new wave of altcoins which use the blockchain will build on this to solve more problems and streamline many aspects of our digital and financial lives.
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