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.
Synthetix is based in Australia, Synthetix launched a seed funding round in September, 2017 to develop the concept of a self-contained stablecoin payment network. They then kicked off their public ICO on February 28, 2018 and by the end of the ICO on March 7, 2018, they had met their goal of $30,000,000 USD. Synthetix was rebranded from Havven on November 30, 2018. Synthetix is led by a multidisciplinary team of 13 individuals. The project was founded by Kain Warwick, who previously co-founded blueshyft, one of the largest digital payment networks in Australia. The CTO is Justin Moses, who also serves as the Director of Engineering at MongoDB. Synthetix aims to address the problem that companies running centralized payment networks such as PayPal, credit card networks, or the SWIFT banking network have “absolute control over the value within the network, so any transaction conducted within them may be blocked or reversed at any time.” According to the Synthetix white paper, “Although this is ostensibly designed to protect users, it introduces systemic risk for all participants. If the network is compromised or its owners cease to behave benevolently, no party can trust that the value in their account is secure or accessible.” This is theorized to work because anyone who holds SNX tokens in escrow will be incentivized by Synthetix rewards derived from network transaction fees that will be distributed “in proportion with how well each issuer maintains the correct Synths supply.” When a Synthetix escrow user puts their SNX in escrow, USD-stabilized Synths will be automatically put up for sale on a decentralized exchange at a price of $1 USD. To release escrowed SNX, the user must buy back the Synths issued (also at a price of $1 USD) at which point the Synths will be burned. The Synthetix system uses an algorithm to adjust network fees, and therefore dividends, to SNX holders to incentivize (or disincentivize) the holding of SNX in escrow smart contracts, and thus, the creation of Synths. The theory is that this will cause users to mint and burn Synths in the appropriate amount based solely on supply and demand.