Ripple is an ingenious Peer to Peer payment system which relies on a network of trust and relationships – community if you will – whereby people grant each other a certain level of credit worthiness in order to facilitate transactions.
It’s all very high level theory at the moment, but what makes it interesting is the fact that it goes beyond mere virtual currencies and barter to offer a real possibility of moving value from place to place irrespective of nationalities or other traditional impediments.
Now that the banks are floundering in a sea of insolvency, maybe it’s time for some intelligent people to take a look at alternatives like this to see if they’re viable? Here’s an FAQ, a nascent (and currently dormant) consumer facing portal and discussion group to be going on with. There’s also some Open Source Ripple software available. Check out this interesting and informative post on the project from a few years ago.
Any system that forces people to act like banks for their friends will only cause disagreements and social disruption. Ripple is not about forcing people to do anything. It is about empowering them to escape the institutional nature of our current economy. However, your Ripple experience will only be as good as the people with whom you choose to participate. Ripple is for mature people who can be honest with each other and resolve financial disagreements like adults. Ripple is very much like lending money to friends. It has the potential to break up weak relationships. Ripple has the benefit of isolating well-behaved groups of people from the effects of poor behaviour. Social lending is already a reality, and a large part of the lending market. In terms of lending between social relations, Ripple doesn’t change much except make it more convenient.