By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK (Reuters) - One of the leading European-based bitcoin exchanges is adding another virtual currency to the bitcoins already traded on its platform.
Ripple, a U.S.-based provider of blockchain-based banking payments technology, said on Tuesday its digital currency XRP will start trading on Bitstamp on Jan. 17.
In a blog posted on Ripple's website, the company said the XRP/euro and XRP/dollar currency pairs will be available to all customers and regions currently supported by Bitstamp. Payment processors can utilize XRP to facilitate cross-border payments to and from Europe.
XRP was created specifically for institutional settlement in seconds. As evidenced by the recent trial with XRP for interbank cross-border payments, the use of Ripple and XRP can enable both cost-cutting and revenue opportunities for participating institutions, Ripple said.
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Nejc Kodrič, CEO at Bitstamp, said after evaluating a number of digital currencies for inclusion on its trading platform, it was clear that customer demand for XRP was particularly strong.
Bitcoin is similar to XRP, but is more popular with non-banking customers. It can also move money around the world quickly and anonymously without the need for a central authority. That makes it attractive to those seeking to get around strict capital controls in countries like China, for instance.
But bitcoin, for now, is more valuable having been around since 2009, last trading at $907.43. Its market cap was valued at $14.7 billion and over the last 24 hours, volume totaled nearly $120 million, according to coinmarketcap.com.
XRP currently is valued at less than one U.S. cent, but it is the third largest digital currency in terms of market capitalization equivalent to $245.2 million. Volume over the last 24 hours was about $2.2 million.
The second largest digital currency is ethereum, a blockchain-based application platform, which last traded at $10.58 and a market cap of $928 million. Ripple also said Bitstamp, which is fully licensed to work in all 28 EU member states, is the first partner exchange for Ripple's XRP incentive program. The incentive program, designed to increase liquidity and tighten spreads, will offer rebates and compensation to qualifying liquidity providers in XRP pairs at partner exchanges.
Blockchain is bitcoin's underlying technology, enabling data sharing across a network of individual computers. It has gained immense popularity because it can record and track assets across all industries.
(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)