Bitcoin Demand Spawns New Alternative Currency

Ripple seeks a piece of the non-state money action


The virtual currency Bitcoin is all over the news these days—in part for its volatility. If you can use it, or even understand why it has any value, you're in a small minority. There are all sorts of aspects to the "math-based" virtual money that make it impractical for most people to use in everyday transactions, but its proponents are fanatical believers in its potential.

Now some of Bitcoin's earliest evangelists and supporters have created what they say is a Bitcoin for the rest of us—another digital currency, called Ripple, that, unlike Bitcoin, transfers easily into and out of other currencies from around the world.

Today, OpenCoin, the company managing Ripple, is announcing new funding from some venerable Silicon Valley names like Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Founders Fund. It's also unveiling some ambitious goals. "You don't have to be a wacky libertarian to understand that trust in political currencies is eroding," says Chris Larsen, OpenCoin's chief executive. "Our objective is to build a new global currency."