XRP is currently the sixth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, but you may have trouble buying this native token of the Ripple blockchain network.
As of early 2021, XRP is unavailable to buy on most centralized U.S. exchanges. Ripple Labs, a company whose history is intertwined with XRP, has been engaged in a lengthy lawsuit with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) since December 2020, and until there is a legal verdict, XRP holders and anyone who wants to trade XRP must be patient. The lawsuit revolves around the SEC’s view of XRP as a security, a view that’s at odds with Ripple’s claims that XRP is a currency, rather than a security.
In response to a request for a statement, the SEC said it “does not comment beyond public filings.” Ripple acknowledged in an emailed statement that the lawsuit has “made it substantially more difficult for U.S. persons to access or use XRP.”
Raj Varghese, a 29-year-old risk management consultant who bought XRP in 2017, has firsthand experience with the situation after buying the cryptocurrency. “I thought it had more sticking power than Bitcoin,” he says. Varghese purchased roughly 5,000 XRP tokens, which at the time were valued at less than $1. His plan was to buy and hold his crypto long term.
But Varghese started receiving notices from the exchange on which he purchased and stored his XRP that it would be blocking U.S.-based investors from accessing their XRP while the company underwent the SEC trial. “They kept giving me this warning saying, ‘At this date, you won’t have access to this account anymore,’” says Varghese. “Eventually, one time I tried to log in and it was like, ‘Yeah we can’t, we can’t service this account.’”
Varghese eventually moved his XRP to another exchange. While he still can’t buy more XRP, his account isn’t blocked like it was on the previous exchange.
With limitations on buying XRP at centralized exchanges, you may have to get creative. Experts recommend new investors be extra careful when buying altcoins like XRP as they are even more volatile than more established cryptos such as bitcoin and ether.
But if you do want to invest in smaller altcoins, there are things you can look at to evaluate them in terms of long-term investment potential. They include price, market cap, use cases, and even who created a particular currency.
If you’re interested in XRP, here are your options for how to buy it.
What Is XRP?
XRP launched in 2012, and was created by three developers who aimed to improve on the sustainability and mining process of bitcoin. The network code was originally referred to as Ripple, with the cryptocurrency being called XRP Ledger. The creators would later help form a company called Ripple Labs, which was gifted 80 billion XRP.
Ripple was invented to be an open-source decentralized alternative for sending money via the traditional banking system, which frequently adds layers of processing fees to each transaction. According to Ripple’s website, you can send XRP from one digital wallet to another in just 3 to 5 seconds while paying minuscule fees.
Steps to Buy XRP
XRP isn’t available on most U.S.-based crypto exchanges. That could possibly change if the outcome of the SEC lawsuit reveals that XRP is a currency, not a security. However, if the SEC wins, you may have to go out of the country to buy XRP.
Here are some steps to get it now.
Find a Cryptocurrency Exchange
You won’t be able to buy XRP without jumping through some technical hoops on popular mainstream exchanges like Coinbase, Gemini, or eToro. You can still find it on more obscure exchanges such as Uphold, or you can make your purchase outside the U.S., or take your chances on a decentralized exchange. Experts say it’s typically best for investors to stick to more mainstream exchanges, so do your research and proceed with caution before buying through a lesser-known exchange.
Workarounds for Buying XRP With U.S. Dollars
While it’s challenging to buy XRP in the U.S., you can still technically buy it with U.S. dollars (USD).
CoinMarketCap lists which exchanges allow you to trade USD (as well as other fiat or cryptocurrencies) for XRP, but note that these won’t all allow you to buy it in the U.S.
Here’s how to find the list:
- Go to CoinMarketCap.com
- Search for XRP using the search bar in the upper right hand corner (on desktop view).
- Click on the “Market” button at the top of the price chart.
- See the complete list of exchanges and website where you can purchase XRP.
- Notice under the column labeled “Pairs” the ticker symbol for XRP, plus a second type of currency. These pairings are all the ways you can buy XRP. To purchase XRP with the U.S. dollar, look for XRP/USD. To purchase XRP with Tether, look for XRP/USDT.
Keep in mind that you still may have to make the transaction outside the U.S. to buy XRP, even when using USD. For instance, Bitstamp is on CoinMarketCap’s list of places to buy XRP. However, when you visit the Bitstamp website, it says: “Not available in US.”
You may be able to trade certain cryptocurrencies for XRP using a decentralized exchange (DEX) like Pancake Swap, which is unregulated. A note of caution, however: DEXes and decentralized finance (DeFi) in general have no safety guards and involve advanced knowledge of trading concepts like lending, staking, and pooling.
For most new crypto investors, it is probably best to wait until this whole lawsuit shakes out. You might have an easier time after things have settled, when XRP could be easier to buy and a safer investment overall.
Storing Your XRP
You can store your XRP in some centralized exchanges like Coinbase, though you will not be able to transact with it while inside the U.S. If you do manage to buy XRP, or already have it, consider putting it in a hot or cold crypto wallet where it will be less susceptible to hacks.
What Can You Do With XRP?
XRP was built as a bridge currency to connect financial institutions such as banks, payment providers, and digital asset exchanges to help settle transactions in real time while cutting down on costs.
“The underlying value proposition [of XRP] is essentially that you can have many, many, many transactions at a very, very small cost,” says Jonathan Angle, an instructor for the online DeFi school YieldFarming.com.
However, XRP’s speed and efficiency is most significant to companies and platforms within the financial services industry. Everyday investors may want to buy XRP because they believe it will become more widely adopted, and therefore valuable, in the future. Unlike Ethereum and other smart contract blockchains, XRP isn’t used for nonfungible tokens (NFTs), gaming, metaverse purchases, and other fun applications. Owning XRP doesn’t have the same applications as owning ETH.
Best Wallets for Holding XRP
Most experts recommend using a self-custody wallet to store large amounts of crypto long term. Self-custody wallets are more secure than keeping crypto stored on a public exchange. If you’re planning to hold your XRP for a while, you might want to consider moving it into a wallet that you personally control.
Self-custody wallets use private keys that allow you to securely access your digital assets. Every private key is linked to a public key that’s used like a digital address from which crypto can be sent or received. You’ll also have a unique seed phrase that’s used to unlock or sync your wallet to new devices, or restore your password when needed.
Examples of self-custody wallets include Exodus and MetaMask, says Angle. “They allow you to create a blockchain address using their software. You write down your seed phrase, you make sure to keep that secure and secret,” he says.
Is XRP Worth It?
While XRP is promising for the financial services industry, individuals don’t stand to benefit a whole lot from owning it.
For starters, Ripple’s speed may arguably come at the price of security. “There’s essentially a trade-off,” says Angle. “It has many less validators on the network.”
Fewer validators means fewer computers checking and processing the accuracy of transactions. And if just half of the validators were to get hacked, your crypto could easily get stolen. More validators on a network means a higher layer of security, because hackers would have to break into more computers.
But is XRP worth it? “I do find a lot of new entrants into the crypto space are very interested in Ripple,” Angle says. “They’ve really got a good marketing appeal … But unfortunately, since [it] doesn’t have functional smart contracts [like Ethereum] … there’s not really the same sort of applications or opportunities. Most of my colleagues and clients aren’t tremendously interested in [XRP].”
Experts recommend you don’t invest any more than 5% of your portfolio in cryptocurrency, and don’t invest any money you can’t afford to lose. This is especially true of altcoins. If you’re going to start this crypto journey, make sure you’ve got a solid emergency fund, have paid off any high-interest debt, and have a secure retirement fund.