San Francisco-based Ripple works to increase cryptocurrency use

You may have seen the actor and part-time tech investor Ashton Kutcher present $4 million worth of digital coins called XRP to Ellen DeGeneres’ favorite charity on her talk show. Or maybe you saw Stephen Colbert announce a $29 million donation of XRP to schoolteachers on his late-night show.

Ripple, a San Francisco company that is rolling in money thanks to last year’s runup in the value of cryptocurrencies, was behind the giveaways. And it has quietly become one of the most valuable startups of the last decade thanks to the value of XRP, the digital token its founders created six years ago.

Now comes the hard part: persuading people to use XRP for something other than speculative trading. It is an issue facing most of the still-young cryptocurrency industry. Digital tokens like bitcoin and its many imitators (like XRP) were designed to make electronic transactions of all sorts easier. But today almost no transactions are happening, other than on virtual currency exchanges where people bet on their price.

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