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The Race to Replace Bitcoin

The Race to Replace Bitcoin Observer


There will be a “Bitcoin 2.0,” and it will likely emerge from one of the hundreds of currencies that have been started in the past couple years.

This article focuses on two of those cryptocurrencies, Ripple and Stellar. They share a city (San Francisco), a founder (Jed McCaleb) and a lot of bad blood. Ripple, founded in 2011, is a relative veteran in this business. Its gross currency value of $527 million in mid-December puts it second behind Bitcoin’s $3.6 billion. (In third place is Litecoin at $50 million). Stellar, started in July 2014, is one of the newcomers (market cap of $17 million). It garnered publicity and presumptive credibility inside the industry from its anti-establishment rhetoric, high-profile advisors and derivation from Ripple.

The company creating the Ripple protocol is Ripple Labs (originally called OpenCoin). Ripple’s currency units are XRPs. The company creating the Stellar protocol is Stellar Development Foundation (originally Jed McCaleb’s Secret Bitcoin Project). Stellar’s currency units are STRs. Bitcoin’s currency units are BTCs. Because of Bitcoin’s ubiquity, the cryptocurrency business is sometimes called “the Bitcoin business,” or, further confusing things, “the bitcoin business.”

The interpersonal story of Stellar and Ripple Labs is emblematic of the turmoil roiling the entire industry. It has everything: Sex, huge money, fraud, genius, betrayal, international intrigue and government raids. The Observer is not in a position to predict the outcome of the clash among cryptocurrencies or against the combined power of world governments and banks. But the Observer is a place for storytelling, and Stellar-Ripple is the best story going in the vital young cryptocurrency industry and maybe in the financial-technology (“fintech”) world.

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I didn't realize that Ripple and Stellar were started by the same guy. Whoa. 

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