Site Admin
Apr 2017
Today, Ripple made an announcement that better decentralization strategy is coming. One key difference between Ripple and Bitcoin is Bitcoin simply cannot handle the transaction demand. Bitcoin won't go away anytime soon, but Ripple was developed using a decentralized public ledger for its blockchain technology to better fit the needs of the world.

With this announcement, Ripple plans to decentralize the Ripple Consensus Ledger wider and further than Bitcoin, and will avoid some of the problems that Bitcoin has seen, which has led to market cornering by Chinese miners.

Ripple plans to start running validators in major universities, colleges, law firms, partner banks and financial institutions, central banks, and government offices. Even the general public will be able to run validators. They are calling it responsible decentralization, where your XRP investments are better protected, therefore no particular group can corner the market.

Ripple is staged to make the Ripple Consensus Ledger the world's most decentralized platform. With Bitcoin, not everyone runs validators. With Ripple, validators will be run by everybody - you, me, governments, hospitals, banks, financial institutions, etc. This means no single party can detriment or harm the Ripple network. The network will literally be secured by the entire human race. This will destroy any ability of groups with the largest pools working together to create a 51% attack and reverse transactions.

More than anything else, this will mean nobody - not some government, not some Chinese mining pool, nobody can stop anyone from making transactions on the Ripple Consensus Ledger.

Yes, Ripple is completely giving up control of the Ripple Consensus Ledger, but it's also making sure no one special party or group can misuse the network. A responsible decentralization will safeguard everyone who transactions in XRP on the Ripple Consensus Ledger.

Here's the full announcement that Ripple made today:
How We Are Further Decentralizing the Ripple Consensus Ledger (RCL) to Bolster Robustness for Enterprise Use

Since its creation in 2012, the Ripple Consensus Ledger (RCL) has been operating as a next-generation alternative to the proof-of-work concept that was originally introduced by Bitcoin. As the root ledger for the digital asset XRP, RCL is an enterprise blockchain supporting the institutional use case of cross-border payments, especially for banks and payments providers around the world who need more efficient liquidity and greater access to emerging markets.

Decentralization of RCL is a process that started right at its inception and has been ongoing since. We intentionally haven’t rushed the process and have been making continuous progress all along. To meet the growing demands of our customers, we need to diversify the validator ecosystem to further increase resiliency and robustness. We believe these efforts will lead to XRP becoming globally adopted as the digital asset for payments.

Our strategy to further decentralize RCL consists of two components:

1. Diversify validators on RCL.

In order to maintain future network reliability and mitigate the risk of a single point of failure, RCL needs to be able to securely run without depending on any one entity. Today, RCL has 25 validator nodes running, but continuing to grow and diversify this list of recommended validator operators is a priority for us. Diversification means a variety of identities, geographic locations and software platforms, all of which will further mitigate the risk of a single point of failure.

As more validators join RCL, their performance will be monitored against a specific set of criteria, including their consensus agreement rate, uptime, verification of identity and public attestation.

2. Add attested validators to Unique Node Lists (UNLs).

A Unique Node List is the set of validating nodes that a given participant listens to for reliable information about transactions in the RCL. We sometimes call nodes that appear on many participants’ UNLs trusted. It’s these trusted nodes that validate transactions, enable/veto amendments and modify fees (learn more about validators and UNLs here). Currently, Ripple provides a default and recommended UNL configured with validating nodes operated by Ripple, and our plan is to systematically replace these nodes with attested third-party validating nodes. Over the course of the next 18 months, for every two attested third-party validating nodes that meet the objective criteria mentioned above, we will remove one validating node operated by Ripple, until no entity operates a majority of trusted nodes on the RCL.

As we continue these initiatives to further decentralize the system, RCL will inherently become even more resilient. A key benchmark that we aim to achieve is to become more decentralized than Bitcoin, which at the time of writing is 51% controlled by just five mining pools. This means the largest five pools working together could achieve a 51% attack and reverse transactions (double spend) at will. For Ethereum, this number is even lower: only three pools are needed for a takeover. To match Bitcoin, RCL would need just 16 trusted validators. Add more, and the number of tolerable faults increases accordingly. In other words, RCL will not just meet, but exceed the decentralization level of other public blockchains.

Moreover, validators on RCL will be less likely to be malicious or successfully attacked. Bitcoin chooses validators solely based on their mining power which actually disincentivizes security. Security measures cost money, but don’t improve the speed of mining. On the other hand, Ripple validators are chosen based on their merit as validators. That is to say, the most reliable, reputable, stable and secure validators will tend to appear on most people’s UNLs.

Already, Ripple is the only enterprise-ready public blockchain. Savvy enterprise services companies are running Ripple validators to demonstrate their expertise in blockchain, which will save businesses $3.1 trillion by 2030, according to Gartner.

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