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So rather than the opportunist/capitalist/democratic solution of bitcoin, we have a benevolent dictator handing out 'money' to whoever would like to be on the network?



You're looking at Ripple as if it were a currency rather than as what it is, a payment system.

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FTA ' Ripple (XRP) is a new decentralized Bitcoin-like currency '

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There are people who want to promote it that way, but that doesn't include the people who designed and built it. Check out http://ripple.com/

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But the point is that if they (XRP) come to have any monetary value at all, the whole thing reduces to a ponzi scheme with benefits.

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I'm not totally sure on this, but AIUI XRP is a new currency and Ripple is a system that can trade any currency including XRP, BTC, USD, etc.

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