Last year, seemingly anyone with the wherewithal and patience to invest in cryptocurrencies walked away having made money. Between the beginning and end of 2017, the combined market cap of virtual currencies soared by more than 3,300%, or almost $600 billion on a nominal basis.

While bitcoin is often attributed as leading this charge, the latter half of 2017 was all about the emergence of other tokens from bitcoin’s shadow. The rise of blockchain technology, coupled with a cornucopia of partnership and project announcements, vaulted previously unknown cryptocurrencies onto center stage.

Among them was Ripple, which would end up gaining over 35,500% in 2017. Ripple, like bitcoin, has a niche focus.

Whereas bitcoin is geared at becoming the premier medium of exchange with merchants, Ripple is focused on partnering with as many financial institutions as possible in order to improve perceived flaws with the current banking system. You see, San Francisco-based Ripple is all about its blockchain technology.

Blockchain is the digital, distributed, and decentralized ledger that’s responsible for logging transactions in a transparent and immutable (i.e., unchanging) manner without the need for a third party, such as a bank. Its evolution is a result of slow payment validation and settlement times, especially in cross-border transactions, with the current banking system, as well as the belief that banks were pilfering fees in transactions that they had nothing to do with. Read more from fool.com…

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