After Coinbase Rejects Rumors of Adding New Assets Ripple Dips

Ripple has taken a hit by a move to end rumors that Bitcoin’s centralized competitor might be introduced to the leading trading platforms in the US. No decision to add new assets to either GDAX or Coinbase has been made, the exchange said in a blog post dismissing any statements to the contrary. Ripple lost some $30 billion of market capitalization on the day of the announcement.

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God Giveth, God Taketh

The clarification on the matter came in response to unverified rumors and unfounded reports that Coinbase might add Ripple to its cryptocurrency markets. They have most certainly helped fuel Ripple’s surge that doubled its price in a week. After Coinbase stated it had no intentions to change its Digital Asset Framework in the short run, Ripple wobbled in charts and lost 20 percent of its value before it rebounded a little. Its capitalization is now below $125 billion, down from Thursday’s peak at almost $149 billion. One XRP coin is currently trading for less than $3.25 USD at the time of publishing according to Coinmarketcap.

Ripple Dips after Coinbase Rejects Rumors of a New Asset

Coinbase is the biggest cryptocurrency marketplace in the US and operates the Global Digital Asset Exchange (GDAX), a platform for trading a variety of digital assets, and a broker processing crypto-fiat transactions. It trades Bitcoin, Litecoin, Etherium and has added Bitcoin Cash support last month. BCH jumped 70% after the latest update of its Digital Asset Framework. The December 17 announcement had been proceeded by a leak that attracted a lot of criticism and led to an internal investigation.

Yesterday Coinbase made it clear that it had no immediate plans to start trading Ripple, although XRP was not explicitly mentioned in its blog post:

We have made no decision to add additional assets to either GDAX or Coinbase. Any statement to the contrary is untrue and not authorized by the company.

Coinbase also reminded that its Digital Asset Framework, released a few months ago, highlights the criteria for supporting new assets. It added that a committee of internal experts was responsible for determining whether and when new assets would be added and insisted that these employees were subject to confidentiality and trading restrictions.

Ripple Dips after Coinbase Rejects Rumors of a New Asset

Ups and Downs, and Peace of Mind

Ripple’s rise made it the second most valued cryptocurrency after Bitcoin during a spell when BTC saw its market share falling below 40%. XRP was trading for as little as $0.006 in January and ended 2017 at a price of $2.30 USD. A few days ago the current and former CEOs of the company, Chris Larsen and Brad Garlinghouse, were ranking among the wealthiest Americans according to Forbes. Larsen, cofounder and Executive Chairman, who reportedly has the largest stash of ripples, would have placed somewhere between Steve Ballmer and Mark Zuckerberg in the 400 richest people list on Monday. But there have been some ups and downs since then – Ether passed the $1,000 barrier and Bitcoin is touching $16,000 again.

In the volatile world of digital money, following experts’ advice and staring at charts doesn’t always help to find a way to sustainable growth and lasting wealth. Reading the Holy Scripture, however, may bring some peace of mind and a sense of intrinsic value: “Naked came I…, naked shall I depart! The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away!”

Do you think Ripple has a chance to compete with Bitcoin, despite its centralized design? Tell us in the comments section below.

After Tripling in a Week Stellar Rockets into the Cryptocurrency Top 10

2018 is still in diapers and yet the cryptocurrency top 10 is already looking very different to last year. Gone are the likes of dash, replaced by coins that have never reached these heady heights before: tron and stellar. The latter peaked at number six this week after tripling in value in seven days from a low of 32 cents. Stellar now boasts a $13 billion market cap. After lying low for the first three years of its existence, stellar is riding high and attracting widespread media attention.

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From a Ripple to a Rocket

Stellar is described is an open-source project with a “distributed, hybrid blockchain”. It “exists to facilitate cross-asset transfers of value, including payments. The Stellar Network forms “an open, global financial network where all actors – be they people, payment networks, or banks – have equal access”. If that sounds a lot like Ripple, that’s because it is: Stellar is Ripple’s sibling, having been created by Ripple cofounder Jed McCaleb after he left the company. McCaleb is also famous for having sold Mt Gox to Mark Karpeles in 2011. Stellar was initially a fork of the Ripple protocol, before later being extensively rewritten.

Stellar now boasts a $13 billion market cap. After lying low for the first three years of its existence, stellar is riding high and attracting widespread media attention.

Lumens (XLM) are the currency that power the Stellar Network, which boasts transaction times of under five seconds. The network has a fixed inflation rate of 1% per year. Like Ripple, Stellar’s targets are financial institutions and corporations, and the company has already inked deals with IBM and Deloitte; the latter is classified as a partner. Stellar’s goal, like that of many cryptocurrencies, is to become the web’s go-to payment solution. Low fees and fast transaction times are its two biggest claims, although the same can be said of many altcoins.

Billions of Lumens Shining Bright

In 2017, 29 cryptocurrencies exceeded bitcoin’s 1,600% gains, and stellar was one of them. Its value has grown an astonishing 28,000% in the space of a year. In the past 24 hours, $800 million lumens were traded on exchanges. The token reached an all-time high of 90 cents this week and is currently trading for around 75 cents.

Stellar Rockets Into the Cryptocurrency Top 10 After Tripling in a WeekSome commenters see Ripple and Stellar as locked in a battle for supremacy, enacting their own version of Bitcoin Core vs Bitcoin Cash. Given the similarities between Ripple and Stellar, including their shared codebase, people, and target audience, these comparisons are inevitable. In terms of developing relationships with banks and other financial institutions, Ripple is streets ahead, but Stellar has the upper hand in other areas.

For one thing, it’s not hoarding 60% of the total supply to itself. Ripple, on the other hand, still holds 55 billion XRP. The total number of coins in existence on each network is very similar though, standing at 100 billion ripple and 103 billion stellar. 17.8 billion stellar are in circulation right now, two billion of which were awarded to Stripe in 2014 in exchange for a $3 million loan. If Stripe still has them, those lumens are now worth billions.

Despite Stellar’s interstellar ascent, not everyone is convinced by the cryptocurrency.

Stellar now boasts a $13 billion market cap. After lying low for the first three years of its existence, stellar is riding high and attracting widespread media attention.

How Centralized is Stellar?

Like Ripple, Stellar usesstellar-1068x1068ich have close ties to Stellar. As a consequence, stellar is not a true decentralized currency. Generally speaking, the closer a cryptocurrency is aligned with institutional investors, the more centralized it is by design. For what it is worth, Stellar is at least less centralized than Ripple.

It is debatable whether Stellar is worth its $13 billion market cap, but then the same could be said of many cryptocurrencies lurking in the top 10, including Ripple, Tron, and Cardano. In an irrational market, assets are worth whatever the next buyer’s willing to pay for them, and right now that figure is higher than the one before. If Ripple can become a $3 coin, there’s no reason why Stellar can’t continue on its rocket ride to infinity and beyond. After months of bitcoin dominance, altcoin season has returned, and it’s the penny stocks of the crypto world that are shining the brightest.

Which project do you prefer – Stellar or Ripple? Let us know in the comments section below.

Ripple Gateways Can Freeze Users’ Funds at Any Time

Ripple has been the talk of the town lately thanks to its rocketing value and growing market capitalization that’s making eyes at bitcoin. $1,000 of XRP bought a year ago would be worth half a million dollars today. But away from the price action, there’s an issue bugging ripple that just won’t go away. It’s been alleged for years that Ripple Labs has the power to freeze the balances of account holders. If true, it would be a major cause for concern, especially for proponents of decentralized currency.

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The Big Freeze

The origins of the Ripple freeze go as follows: In August 2014, Ripple quietly introduced a feature called Freeze. It was put to the test a few months later when Ripple cofounder Jed McCaleb tried to cash out some of his billions in XRP after leaving the company. He’d previously signed an agreement to sell no more than $10,000 of XRP a week, only to attempt to clear $1 million worth through Bitstamp in one go.

Ripple Gateways Can Freeze Users’ Funds at Any TimeUpon learning of McCaleb’s actions, Ripple intervened and prevented him from doing so, utilizing its Balance Freeze feature. Built into Ripple gateways such as Bitstamp by default, it enables the company to stop the movement of XRP. During the brouhaha that followed, Bitstamp, caught in the middle, filed a lawsuit to settle the dispute between McCaleb and Ripple Labs.

2015 was a lifetime ago in cryptocurrency, and a lot has happened since then to all of the players caught up in the spat, and to the industry as a whole. Bitstamp, Ripple, and McCaleb would all aver that they’ve moved on to bigger and better things: the former reporting record turnover and trading volume, and McCaleb launching Stellar, whose market cap has quadrupled in a matter of days, catapulting it into the top 10. And then there’s Ripple, which is going great guns.

The Case for the Defense

Ripple’s transformation from sluggish cryptocurrency into the hottest ticket in town has been rapid: three months ago, no one wanted to know. Now, traders of all genders, demographics, and territories are invested in ripple, and not just financially, but emotionally too. Anyone who buys an unfancied coin and then watches it moon can’t help but feel a sense of vindication, and a newfound appreciation for the project. At this stage, anything that threatens the coin’s upward trajectory – such as negative news – risks being shot down.

Ripple Gateways Can Freeze Users’ Funds at Any Time

In a report on ripple’s meteoric rise this week, news.Bitcoin.com mentioned the “big freeze”, linking to another recent article on the site which explains this in more detail. Ripple’s defenders hotly dispute the facts of the matter, though, highlighting a sentence on Ripple’s Freeze page which states: “No one can freeze XRP”.

So what’s the truth of the matter? Can Ripple freeze users’ funds or not?

An Uncomfortable Half-Truth

The answer to Ripple’s capabilities lies in a document the company released in 2014 introducing Balance Freeze and stating:

The freeze protocol extension gives gateways the ability to…freeze funds issued to a particular user. Frozen funds may only be sent back to the gateway who issued them. The global freeze feature allows a gateway to freeze all balances issued by it.

When you purchase cryptocurrency on an exchange, your account is assigned a virtual balance – a token essentially – correlating to your holdings. Buy 1 BTC, for example, and nothing moves on the blockchain. All that happens is that your USD and BTC account balances are updated. It’s only once a user makes a withdrawal request that an on-chain transaction takes place.

Ripple uses a distributed ledger called the Ripple protocol which each Ripple gateway – essentially a bank – keeps a record of. Bitstamp, Gatehub, and The Rock Trading are some of the major gateways partnered with Ripple. Purchase ripple on Bitstamp, for example, and the transaction won’t show up on the Ripple protocol. The ledger will only record the movement of funds when they are withdrawn from the Bitstamp wallet to the customer’s XRP wallet.

Ripple Gateways Can Freeze Users’ Funds at Any Time

The phrase “No one can freeze XRP” is thus a half-truth. Ripple does not possess the power to magically remove the funds from a customer’s personal XRP wallet. For example, it can’t plunder the funds that a holder has stored on their Nano S. If those funds are stored with a Ripple gateway that hasn’t opted out of Freeze, however, they can be locked up. Not only can the XRP be frozen, but so can the account balances associated with its sale, such as USD.

Ripple Gateways Can Freeze Users’ Funds at Any TimeRipple’s defenders claim that in this respect, ripple is no different from any other cryptocurrency. If Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin had 10,000 ETH stolen from him and sent to Bitstamp, for example, he could probably pressure the exchange into freezing that ether while the matter was investigated. The difference with Ripple is that the company has developed a special relationship with its gateways which gives these “banks” unprecedented powers to freeze individual counts on a whim, or on the say-so of Ripple, law enforcement, or regulators.

Not only does Ripple encourage the XRP of suspicious accounts to be frozen, but “The financial institution should also freeze the counterparty in any other systems the financial institution operates that are connected to the XRP Ledger”. Your bitcoin; your litecoin; your euros; anything connected to a Ripple gateway can be locked down. No other cryptocurrency has a similar framework in place, which grants exchanges unprecedented powers to lock up funds at the drop of a hat.

A Frosty Reception for Centralized Currencies

No one is suggesting that Ripple Labs has a desire to freeze anyone’s funds. That’s not good for business. Nevertheless, a cryptocurrency which enables a centralized authority to freeze funds at the touch of a button defeats the entire purpose of cryptocurrency. Most people have no objection to stemming the funding of terrorists and money launderers. Once a kill switch is created, however, it leads to a slippery slope in which anyone suspected of misbehavior can have their funds seized.

Ripple Gateways Can Freeze Users’ Funds at Any TimeAs Ripple explains, the feature provides the ability “to freeze individual accounts issuances in order to investigate suspicious activity”. Owning XRP in a country that is hostile to cryptocurrency; possessing an unusually large amount of XRP; signing up to a Ripple gateway exchange from a banned country: all could be grounds for freezing your account.

If law enforcement suspected a cryptocurrency holder was engaged in criminal behavior, they could try to obtain a subpoena granting permission to seize that individual’s exchange balance – and would be required to submit evidence to show there was probable cause for doing so. But if that exchange happened to be a Ripple gateway, they could simply pick up the phone and ask for the Big Button of Freeze to be pressed. And that’s the difference between ripple and other cryptocurrencies.

Keeping so much as 1 XRP on a gateway exchange would technically be enough to see all of your fiat and crypto balances frozen. There are ways to obtain and transact XRP without going near a gateway that possesses special powers. In a world of decentralized cryptocurrencies, however, purveyors of financial freedom may prefer to look elsewhere.

Do you think Ripple’s freeze function is a cause for concern? Let us know in the comments section below.ripple-freeze-1068x1068