How Bitcoin’s Limitations Inspired the XRP Ledger

How Bitcoin’s Limitations Inspired the XRP Ledger


The latest episode of Block Stars is the first of a two-part conversation between current Ripple CTO, David Schwartz and former Ripple CTO and current CEO of Coil, Stefan Thomas. David and Stefan first met at Ripple after Stefan was hired based on his previous work bringing Bitcoin to web browsers.

“My claim to fame was to be the browser crypto guy,” he tells David. Stefan wanted to help make Bitcoin more accessible and mainstream but the limitations of a pre-existing shared ledger meant that change was slow and experimentation impossible.

His chance to innovate with features like support for different currencies and faster confirmation times came when he joined Ripple and helped create the Interledger Protocol (ILP) and further develop the XRP Ledger. Though sometimes ideas didn’t work out, as revealed by a fascinating discussion about the decision to not build smart contract capability into the XRP Ledger.

“We wanted to optimize for security, performance and the basic functionality,” he recalls. “Smart contracts were an interesting opportunity for the future, but…the better architecture was not to have the code inside of the ledger itself.”  

Listen to part one of David and Stefan’s conversation now to hear how ILP has become that separate system for powering smart contracts, as well as more anecdotes and insights about the early days of Bitcoin and building the company, Ripple.


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