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Ripple is a payment system, currency exchange and remittance network by Ripple Labs. It is built upon a distributed, open source internet protocol, consensus ledger and native currency called ripples (XRP). The Ripple network purports to enable \"secure, instant and nearly free global financial transactions of any size with no chargebacks\".
It supports any fiat currency (dollars, yen, etc.), cryptocurrency (bitcoin, litecoin, etc.), commodity or other unit of value (frequent flier miles, mobile minutes, etc.). At its core, Ripple is based around a shared, public database or ledger. In addition to balances, the ledger holds information about offers to buy or sell currencies and assets, creating the first distributed exchange. Participants in the network agree to changes in the ledger via a process called consensus which is reached every 2–5 seconds.
The consensus process allows for payments, exchanges and remittance without the need for a centralized clearing house. The consensus ledger makes the Ripple network energy efficient and robust against attacks compared to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin that are secured by mining. As of September 26, 2013, the Ripple reference server and client are free software, released under the terms of the ISC License.