Interledger: Because The World Will Never Agree on One Blockchain
Ripple was one of the first blockchains to offer its users the ability to transact in different currencies, so it should be no surprise that they have introduced a solution to the problem of interoperability between blockchains themselves. Observing that the world will never agree on one blockchain, they came up with the Interledger Protocol, which is simply a communications standard, not another network or another blockchain. Interledger offers a common language for financial networks to interconnect with a philosophy that recalls many of today’s Internet standards.
Evan Schwartz is a co-inventor of the Interledger Protocol (ILP) and the Managing Director of Ripple’s European Research and Development division based in Luxembourg. During Bitcoin Wednesday on 1 March, 2017, Evan will explain how Interledger uses an open architecture to enable payments and micropayments across different types of blockchains and other ledgers. He will be joined by his colleagues Ben Sharafian and Michiel de Jong.
Evan, Ben and Michiel will give a demo of multi-currency micropayments using the “ILP Kit” and the first public demo of cross-blockchain payments using Interledger. The Interledger whitepaper, code and further documentation can be found at Interledger.org. Evan previously worked as a developer on Ripple’s smart contract platform, Codius. He studied political economy and education at Brown University before coming to Ripple. Michiel previously worked on LedgerLoops.com, Firefox OS, IndieWeb, Redecentralize.org and multi-objective reinforcement learning. Ben is an Interledger “plugin” expert and has implemented support for decentralized ledgers, centralized ledgers, and even “virtual ledgers”.
Often hailed as one of the most innovative startups in fintech, blockchain pioneer Ripple has a long and controversial history in the sector. One of Ripple’s founders, Jed McCaleb, was also the creator of MTGox, one of the world’s first, and initially largest, Bitcoin exchanges. In 2011 Jed reportedly sold 88% of MTGox to Karpeles under unusual terms that completely released McCaleb from any liability after the sale. Soon after MTGox changed hands, 80,000 bitcoins were discovered missing, an amount that would be worth more than $89 million at today’s rates.
Once freed from managing MTGox, however, Jed founded Ripple with colleagues Arthur Britto, David Schwartz and Chris Larsen. The company developed its own distributed ledger, a blockchain without a mining process, that was designed to be a universal settlement network for transactions in any currency. With this idea they succeeded in becoming the first venture-backed company in the industry with Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures among their early investors.
Somewhat controversially, at its launch the Ripple blockchain simply created 100 billion Ripple credits, called XRP, in its genesis block in order to allow the company to distribute tokens through business development deals. At the start of 2017 Ripple reported that it held 63 billion XRP with the rest of the tokens distributed to others, including early founders and investors. As a result, only a small percentage of XRP are actively available, and the currency appears at the top of many market cap rankings for the sector albeit with widely disputed numbers.
The company has continued to develop into a global real-time settlement network, a strategy that consistently puts it into the conversation about enterprise blockchain solutions. It counts Bank of America, UBS and Santander among its clients.