How To Use Ripple
What Can You Do With a Ripple Wallet
Ripple is often compared to Bitcoin and the many other 'alt coins' which are now trying to compete with it, because it has its own digital currency. But it is actually much more than just a 'cryptocurrency'. In fact, Ripple itself is not a digital currency at all - XRP is the digital currency which it uses as part of its system, but Ripple itself is a peer to peer financial software protocol, I know that is a bit of a mouthful, but please do stick with me because it can do some pretty cool stuff.
The Ripple protocol is still in Beta, so it is a long way from reaching its full potential. But it can already be used to:
- Send money in any currency to anyone in the world, for a transaction fee of way less than a cent no matter how much your send
- Send Bitcoins and other digital currencies more quickly and cheaply than you would using a regular Bitcoin wallet (transactions are almost instant).
- Exchange one currency for another with the same super-low transaction fee
- Store multiple currencies in the same account.
- Make online payments in any currency
The ability to send and exchange money so quickly and cheaply means that one big market for Ripple is likely to be overseas remittances - when people send money home to relatives from another country. Ripple is way cheaper for this than either international bank transfers or companies like Western Union or Moneygram. Of course there is currently a lack of infrastructure for picking up cash payments in person, but this may be just a matter of time. And of course the foreign exchange market, for both consumers looking to change money for a vacation and professional traders, is another.
The only problem is that beginners often find it all a little bit difficult to work out when they first start. That's because it is still in Beta and is currently being used primarily by early adopters and new technology enthusiasts who like to work things out for themselves anyway, so they haven't yet put a lot of effort into explaining properly how it all works in everyday language that anyone can understand (at least that's the way it seemed to me when I visited their wiki and the forums when I first joined).
Hopefully I can help with some simple and easy to follow instructions for using your Ripple wallet.
Ripple - The Future of Payments
Getting Started - How to Open and Activate a Ripple Wallet
How to Get Money Into Your Ripple Wallet
Ok, so you've signed up on the Ripple website and opened up a new wallet. Your first question is now probably - how the hell do I put money into this thing?
In order to use Ripple properly you will also need an account with a 'gateway'. The main purpose of these gateways is to transfer money held in bank accounts in various currencies in and out of the Ripple network, and to allow new users to buy XRP (if you want to - you don't need to use the XRP currency to use Ripple). You can only have a given currency in your Ripple wallet if you have an account with a gateway which accepts deposits and processes withdrawals in that currency. Two of the main currencies which people like to start off with in their wallet are US dollars and Bitcoins. You can deposit and withdraw both of these, as well as Euros, through the Justcoin gateway, as well as others such as Bitstamp or Snap Swap. If you want to deposit and withdraw from your online wallet in cold hard cash, and you live in the US of A, you can also make use ZipZap, but this is currently not available outside the US.
Once you have made a deposit in either Bitcoins or your national currency, all you need to do is to click on your gateway's 'withdraw' button, choose 'withdraw to Ripple' and then select the currency and amount of money which you want to put into your Ripple wallet. It usually takes a few seconds for this to be processed, and you will then see the funds in your online wallet.
During this process you will probably be asked to formally 'trust' the gateway within your wallet - this means you are trusting them to issue any money your receive to you in other forms if that is needed (for example to a regular Bitcoin wallet, transferred to your bank account, or through cash-in points in your local area). Don't worry about how to do this - your gateway should redirect your to the appropriate page with all the information already filled in for you to approve.
Although I'm not aware of any dodgy gateways at the moment, you should be careful to make sure that you really can trust your gateway before depositing any of your money. You can find a list of officially approved gateways that you can definitely trust on the Ripple Federation website; all of the gateways I mention on this page are officially approved.
How Ripple Works - Gateways and Pathways
The 'Trust' Screen
Getting Free XRP
Unlike Bitcoin and other digital currencies, Ripple does not need to use 'mining' for its own currency XRP. Mining is when people use powerful, specialized computers to perform complex calculations on behalf of Bitcoin (some of this is useful to the network, but much of it is purely there as a 'proof of work' mechanism). in return these miners have a chance to 'find' a Bitcoin with every calculation they process. This is how new currency units are distributed. During the early days ordinary people could do this on a home computer, but now you have to use custom mining machines to stand any chance of getting anything.
As a replacement for, and improvement on this, Ripple is distributing its XRP's to anyone who donates their computer's spare processing power to science. You do this through a project called BOINC, which has been running for years as a way for people to volunteer their computer to join distributed computing networks to help with a wide range of scientific projects. The XRP payments are provided by Ripple labs from the initial distribution allocation, so the science projects themselves are not paying anything for this.
Since I began using this, my computer has mostly been analysing genetic data to help find cures for HIV and cancer, but there are many other projects too and you can choose which ones you want to join individually. To find out how to get your free XRP (mine has been worth the equivalent of around $0.30 - $0.40 USD per day so far, on my HP laptop) visit the Computing For Good website.
Are You A Rippler?
Had you already signed up for a Ripple wallet before coming to this page?
How To Send And Receive Money Using Your Ripple Wallet
You can now send money in any currency to anyone in the world who has a Ripple wallet. If you want to you can also send money in one currency, and have it arrive in another currency. It will do this by 'Rippling' through the accounts of other users who have chosen to enable this feature, or through exchange offers posted by other Ripple wallets who want to exchange money in the opposite direction.
In the box which comes up at the top of the send screen you just select the currency you want the person to receive, along with the amount of that currency you want to send, and you will then be offered the choice to pay it from any currency which you have in your account. The transaction fee which you are charged for this is roughly on thousandth of a cent or less.
The only thing which you must remember is that the person you are sending money to must 'trust' a gateway for the currency which you are sending, otherwise it won't let you send the money because the recipient might not be able to use it.
You also have the option of adding a 'destination tag' which identifies your payment to the person receiving it. This is similar to what you do when sending money using a bank transfer. It is optional, so feel free to use it, but some gateways will automatically fill it in for your when you are making a deposit from your Ripple wallet.
One Great Use for Ripple:
- How To Send Bitcoins Without Paying Any Fees
A simple 3 step guide to sending Bitcoins without paying transaction fees or waiting a long time for confirmations for a low priority payment - Using your Ripple wallet
How To Exchange Currencies Using Your Ripple Wallet
The currency exchange option is one of the great strengths of Ripple. It allows you to easily hold balances in any number of currencies, change money between them, or set yourself up as a currency exchange service by posting offers onto the open market.
The simplest way, which most ordinary 'Ripplers' tend to use, is to simply select 'convert' from the homepage of your wallet, and select the currency you want to receive. If you have a balance in multiple currencies it will then offer you a choice of which one you want to convert, and will show you exactly how much you will get so you are free to accept or reject the current market rate.
More advanced users may want to click the 'trade' tab. This will give you access to a fully-fledged trading interface where you can post offers to the market, specifying the precise exchange rate you want to get. From the trade tab you can also view all of the open offers on the Ripple market. Sometimes you can simply take an offer you see here for a smaller total amount and get a better deal (because the convert button may have to take a less generous offer as well as the best offer to make up your trade, if it is for a large amount of money).
Ripple's Trader Interface
Did This Help?
If you found this article useful then please feel free to make a donation to the writer via Ripple!
One interesting use for digital currencies is for people to make small 'micro payments' to content creators if they appreciate their work - see this for example http://bitcoinmagazine.com/5973/bitcoins-watershed-moment-an-open-source-cryptocurrency-ecosystem/
I'm not really expecting anything, but if you want to give me a tip my public Ripple address is: rDLzgP8BQYN9edzSV6oi3gqJpvygo1cM6