Top 5 biggest threats to Ripple

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Ripple’s well-funded, progressive and growing, but it’s going to have to grow even more aggressively if it hopes to outdistance itself from competing bitcoin protocols. At the time of this writing, there are just over 65,000 ripple wallets in existence vs. 1.2 million+ bitcoin wallets. Bitcoin is the leading cryptocurrency, so it stands to reason that a protocol built on top of bitcoin’s blockchain could rapidly render ripple obsolete. Here are five of the leading bitcoin protocols (all of which threaten ripple):

1) BitShares. BitShares PTS were formerly ProtoShares. Think of BitShares PTS like shares in a company. BitShares PTS holders get a share in every company (or DAC) that launches using BitShares software. When a new BitShares DAC is launched, the holders of the entire market cap of PTS are proportionally allotted 10% of the shares in the new DAC. Each PTS represents one share in every DAC ever launched using BitShares software. BitShares X are also on tap, and they’ll allow users to save not in cryptocurrency but in gold, silver, gasoline or anything of value.

(Note: The text above was updated after I learned my original write-up, pasted here, was incorrect: BitShares aren’t on the market yet, but you can get in early by investing in ProtoShares. ProtoShares can be converted to BitShares once BitShares launch. BitShares aren’t coins, but rather shares in a company. In addition to BitShares, they’ll have BitShares X, which will allow you to save not in cryptocurrency but in gold, silver, gasoline or anything of value.)

2) Nxt. Nxt is the first 100 percent Proof-of-Stake currency. That means coins aren’t mined like bitcoin, but rather awarded in the form of transaction fees. The coin and wallet were programmed in Java and big plans are in the works including smart contracts, which could be a unique way of transmitting value online.

3) Counterparty. Counterparty is already running a distributed exchange on top of the bitcoin blockchain. The Counterparty protocol is similar to ripple with its own native currency (XCP), which can be used for making bets, paying dividends and paying betting fees. Any user with 5 XCP can create an “asset,” which could be any financial instrument. Interestingly, XCP are created by “burning” or destroying bitcoin by sending it to an address for which there is no private key.

4) Ethereum. Ethereum’s yet another ledger that lets users build advanced transaction types, smart contracts and decentralized applications on top of the bitcoin blockchain. That includes custom currencies, financial derivatives, even the ability to rent out storage space on your computer’s hard drive.

5) Mastercoin. Mastercoin‘s distributed exchange is scheduled to launch in March 2014, but there’s already lots of excitement and energy behind it. Mastercoin’s market cap stands north of $35 million. One big plus? “Mastercoins will contain simple tools which will allow anyone to design and release their own currency or commodity, with their own rules, without doing any software development.” That means we’re just getting started with the glut of coins on the market. Mastercoin will also allow users to transmit “smart contracts” and “smart property.”

Ripple has the lead in terms of investment and infrastructure, but don’t underestimate the power of the bitcoin community. They’re excited, energized and fighting tooth and nail to develop the next big protocol.

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