Ripple is a payments protocol and digital token developed by Ripple Labs beginning in 2012. Ripple’s XRP token is powered by a real-time gross settlement system (RTGS) that allows near-instant transaction clearing and settlement. The purpose of the protocol is to provide "secure, instant and nearly free global financial transactions of any size with no chargebacks.” In contrast to purely decentralized networks that rely on miners, the Ripple network is maintained by independent validating servers that reach consensus on the order of transactions being recorded. This protocol design enables consistent confirmation times and transaction throughput, but the project has received criticism for not being fully decentralized. Nevertheless, XRP’s market capitalization has grown exponentially since its inception and the token has consistently ranked in the top ten in terms of both market capitalization and transaction volume. Ripple was tailored for cross-border value transfers between financial institutions and has secured partnerships and investments from noteworthy entities, including CME Group, Google Ventures, Accenture, and Andreessen Horowitz.