Crypto Community Accuses Ripple XRP of False Decentralization Claims

  • Justin Bons claims to have found evidence that Ripple has de facto control over the XRP network.
  • The XRP community has mixed reactions to Bons’ claims.

Some crypto community members are accusing Ripple, the company behind XRP, of falsely proclaiming that its native token XRP is decentralized and permissionless. Justin Bons, founder of Cyber Capital, claims to have found a “smoking gun” that proves Ripple has de facto control over the entire network.

Bons pointed out that XRP’s consensus algorithm, Unique Node Lists (UNLs), is based on a list of trusted nodes that centralized parties, including the Ripple Foundation release. Nodes not on these lists are untrusted and do not participate in consensus.

However, the researcher noted that while UNLs can be modified by users, a user can get kicked off if there is insufficient overlap with the rest of the network. He concluded that “XRP is not trustless,” adding that choosing who to trust is not the same as trustlessness.

Bons’ claims have been met with mixed reactions from the XRP community. Matt Hamilton, a former core developer at Ripple, commented:

We have been over this many times already. Each node is responsible for its own UNL. They choose the contents of that UNL and if they want to use a UNL published by a 3rd party. There is no central authority.

Furthermore, Bons argues that XRP’s lack of block rewards and incentives makes it difficult for new validators to coordinate, which “gives the Ripple Foundation even more control over the network.”

On the other hand, David Schwartz, Ripple’s chief technology officer, clarified that validators do not have control over transaction inclusion. “They solve the double spend problem, so they can choose which of two equally-valid but conflicting transactions is included.”

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