Bitcoin rival Ripple is sitting on many billions of dollars of XRP

on May26

Brad Garlinghouse, chief executive officer Ripple Labs Inc.

Tony Avelar | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Brad Garlinghouse, chief executive officer Ripple Labs Inc.

Blockchain start-up Ripple is in a precarious position for a 5-year-old company.

The business is still in its very early days but suddenly has billions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency on its balance sheet.

Ripple, which built a digital payments network for real-time financial transactions, is also the creator and biggest owner of Ripple XRP, a digital currency that has increased in value by 40 times this year.

There’s a total of 100 billion XRP in existence, each priced at about 26 cents. The $26 billion of total value is second among cryptocurrencies, behind bitcoin, which is valued at $41 billion.

Ripple owns about 61 percent — or $16 billion worth — of XRP.

If that were factored into the company’s valuation, Ripple would be worth more than all but four U.S. start-ups — Uber, Airbnb, Palantir and WeWork.

XRP is surging alongside bitcoin and ether as well as smaller digital currencies like dash and monero. They’re all benefiting from the surging interest in blockchain, a distributed electronic ledger that makes all transactions trackable. Unlike other cryptocurrencies on the market, XRP is tied to — and majority-owned by — a single company.

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