Ripple is the catchall name for the cryptocurrency platform, the transactional protocol for which is actually XRP, in the same fashion as Ethereum is the name for the platform that facilitates trades in Ether. Like other cryptocurrencies, Ripple is built atop the idea of a distributed ledger network which requires various parties to participate in validating transactions, rather than any singular centralized authority. That facilitates transactions all over the world, and transfer fees are far cheaper than the likes of bitcoin. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, XRP transfers are effectively immediate, requiring no typical confirmation time. Ripple was originally founded by a single company, Ripple Labs, and continues to be backed by it, rather than the larger network of developers that continue bitcoin’s development. It also doesn’t have a fluctuating amount of its currency in existence. Where bitcoin has a continually growing pool with an eventual maximum, and Ethereum theoretically has no limit, Ripple was created with all of its 100 billion XRP tokens right out of the gate. That number is maintained with no mining and most of the tokens are owned and held by Ripple Labs itself — around 60 billion at the latest count. Even at the recently reduced value of around half a dollar per XRP, that means Ripple Labs is currently sitting on around $20 billion worth of the cryptocurrency (note: Ripple’s price crashed hard recently, and may be worth far less than $60 billion by time you read this). It holds 55 billion XRP in an escrow account, which allows it to sell up to a billion per month if it so chooses in order to fund new projects and acquisitions. Selling such an amount would likely have a drastic effect on the cryptocurrency’s value, and isn’t something Ripple Labs plans to do anytime soon. In actuality, Ripple Labs is looking to leverage the technology behind XRP to allow for faster banking transactions around the world. While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are built on the idea of separating financial transactions from the financial organizations of traditional currencies, Ripple is almost the opposite in every sense. XRP by Ripple price can be found on this page alongside the market capitalization and additional stats.
The Cosmos network consists of many independent, parallel blockchains, called zones, each powered by classical Byzantine fault-tolerant (BFT) consensus protocols like Tendermint (already used by platforms like ErisDB). Some zones act as hubs with respect to other zones, allowing many zones to interoperate through a shared hub. The architecture is a more general application of the Bitcoin sidechains concept, using classic BFT and Proof-of-Stake algorithms, instead of Proof-of-Work.Cosmos can interoperate with multiple other applications and cryptocurrencies, something other blockchains can’t do well. By creating a new zone, you can plug any blockchain system into the Cosmos hub and pass tokens back and forth between those zones, without the need for an intermediary. While the Cosmos Hub is a multi-asset distributed ledger, there is a special native token called the atom. Atoms have three use cases: as a spam-prevention mechanism, as staking tokens, and as a voting mechanism in governance. As a spam prevention mechanism, Atoms are used to pay fees. The fee may be proportional to the amount of computation required by the transaction, similar to Ethereum’s concept of “gas”. Fee distribution is done in-protocol and a protocol specification is described here. As staking tokens, Atoms can be “bonded” in order to earn block rewards. The economic security of the Cosmos Hub is a function of the amount of Atoms staked. The more Atoms that are collateralized, the more “skin” there is at stake and the higher the cost of attacking the network. Thus, the more Atoms there are bonded, the greater the economic security of the network. Atom holders may govern the Cosmos Hub by voting on proposals with their staked Atoms.