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What is The World Exchange?

     Imagine being able to send money, credit, assets - any form of ownership or value - to anyone anywhere in the world in mere seconds. Then imagine being able to trade or bid on those same items online with anyone else without having to rely on any services in between. And finally imagine being able to actually issue your own symbols as well to represent anything you can think of - new currencies, companies, debt, even countries or people - anything - with just a few mouse clicks. Just like that, your new symbol is tradable 24/7 by anyone with its value determined completely by the free market. All this is made possible by blockchain technology, the one used here specifically being the Ripple network.

     The World Exchange is an exchange in name only. There are no back-end servers that process, receive, transact, or store any information. We chose the name to help the general public see past the buzzwords and better visualize just what blockchain is capable of in everyday use. In actuality, the site is simply a user interface to the already existing Ripple network, a blockchain technology that, like many others, is not only a currency but a full-fledged, decentralized exchange.

Instantaneous Transactions and Automatic Conversion

     Say goodbye to ACH, bank wires, SWIFT, T+2 settlement, and other slow 20th century financial technologies. Money and virtually any other asset can now be sent instantly anywhere in the world, and unlike Bitcoin or other blockchain-based technologies, you never have to deal with any currency other than the one you're already using. If you offer something for USD, others can automatically buy it with EUR, BTC, XRP, and any other denomination as well. They can even buy it directly with assets that aren't money to begin with. Shares can be exchanged directly for other shares, commodities for loans, private equity for bonds, etc. All the liquidity and conversion is done behind the scenes, so all markets are on one global, interconnected orderbook. You can now send and trade pure value in real-time.

Issue Tokens to Represent Any Form of Value or Ownership

     Instantaneous transactions are amazing, but you can do so much more than just send or trade quickly. You can also create your own symbols to represent anything you want. The common phrase for this now is issuing your own token, and unlike other blockchain platforms, everything here is just point and click. There is no coding or smart contracts and no need to run any infrastructure or servers. By just hitting the Issue button, you can create tokens to:

     And pretty much anything else you can think of. The token is then openly tradable by anyone with its price determined entirely by the free market, just like with any stock, bond, currency, etc. And thanks to the automatic conversion behind the scenes, you only need to offer it once to automatically offer across every symbol there is, instantly accepting any form of exchange without additional effort. You can see this yourself with a live example TTT, which is offered only once for XRP here but automatically also available across USD, EUR, and BTC. The TTT example also showcases built-in compliance features that allow you to whitelist who is allowed access, useful for more regulated use-cases like securities; you'll notice that TTT is viewable but not tradable unless you are added to its whitelist. Lastly, issuers can attach profiles, legal disclaimers, or other information and even require agreement by users before access; a demo is available here for XYZ. All this is done again directly via Ripple's blockchain with no custom code or smart contracts; all features from orderbooks to automatic conversion already exist natively even without this site.

     At some point, you would either buy back the token you issued or offer some other form of exchange/reward/redemption to give it value. The trust that you do that is why people would buy or accept your token in the real world. It is your job to enforce and communicate that promise. It is no different than a credit card issued by a bank, a gift card issued by a store, someone buying a stock on the trust that the company makes money for its shareholders, or a loan being offered on the trust that the borrower pays it back with interest. Those that break that trust would find it difficult to do business in the future, just like with anything else.

     Note: Depending on what you issue, you may be subject to laws and regulations, including Securities laws. You are responsible for making sure you are in compliance with all such laws that are applicable, as well as properly configuring your tokens to meet compliance requirements (see Advanced Settings). As shown in the examples above, issuers of tokens can both leave their tokens freely traded by the public as well as restrict access to only whitelisted individuals. This website is only an interface to already existing functionality on the Ripple Network and does not process, facilitate, screen, or have any actual involvement in the execution of your transactions.

Global and Decentralized

     The best part of all this is everything can be done in the same place, the same "exchange." In actuality, The World Exchange is not really a place or even an exchange. It is only an interface to a global, decentralized network that already exists, distributed across the world the same way the internet is. That network is the Ripple consensus ledger, one of many competing blockchain-based technologies, and like the internet, it is everywhere and controlled by no one person. The World Exchange is but a mere internet service provider connecting you to it. It is analogous to an app connecting your phone to your bank or a trading tool letting you manage accounts across multiple brokers. Nothing is stored or run through The World Exchange site itself. Everything runs off of the blockchain directly with no middlemen or intermediaries. As long as you save your account address and secret key, your account is safe even if this site goes down. You don't actually even need this site to trade and keep using your account. In fact, you can save this page to your computer, have your firewall block theworldexchange.net, and still access your account with full functionality. You can even disconnect your computer from the internet completely and just create an address to deposit funds into (aka cold wallet). The site literally doesn't do anything other than offer you the webpage for download. This is an exchange in name only that allows anyone can trade or transact with other users directly with no one else in between, and like the internet, this "exchange" is forever online as long as there are other users just like yourself.

     This is the way a truly decentralized exchange should be. Unfortunately, a lot of exchanges out there that advertise or even use blockchain are not actually decentralized at all. They control your accounts, store your passwords/keys, are a central point of failure that loses everyone's funds if they get hacked, etc. Such exchanges are literally just traditional exchanges which happen to trade cryptocurrencies and are not actually leveraging the technology behind blockchain at all. The horror stories with Mt. Gox, Bitfinex - where users have lost money to hacks, crashes of the exchange, etc - all occur on these kinds of traditional, centralized exchanges. It's like someone trying to sell you a self-driving car but insisting you still pay them to be your driver. They do this so they can charge you the same fees as the older technology, while keeping all the cost savings of new technology to themselves. Imagine if you paid a driver who just pushed the on button for the self-driving car. A truly decentralized exchange would make the traditional exchange obsolete. Such is the case with The World Exchange, which really is not an exchange at all but just an interface to an already existing decentralized exchange network (aka blockchain); the one we use here is called Ripple and is one of many competing technologies against the original Bitcoin-based blockchain. More tech-savvy users will understand this to be a fully client-side wallet, where your account credentials remain in your control at all times and are never sent anywhere. It is the most secure way to store and access funds, quite literally because you never give your information to anyone else to begin with. This is the way a truly decentralized exchange should be, and the purpose of this site is to demonstrate that it is very much possible and already here with today's technology.

How to Get Started

     The quickest way to get started is to create an account on the Login page or use an existing Ripple address if you have one. Those who have created addresses or wallets at other Ripple-based sites, such as RippleTrade will be able to use the exact same account and secret keys here because it's the same Ripple network behind the scenes.

     Min XRP and Transaction Fee: After creating an account, the account requires a minimum amount of XRP to be activated. XRP is the native currency on the Ripple network with no issuer or backer. The starting minimum is 20 XRP, with each additional type of token you want to hold and each open order requiring an additional 5 XRP minimum. For example, if you want to trade both USD and EUR, you would need a minimum 30 XRP (20 base + 5 per symbol). If you then place an order, that increases by another 5 until the order is filled or cancelled. This is all done to prevent spam and other issues. In addition, while the technology is free, a small fraction of XRP is burned each time a transaction happens, so bad actors cannot flood the network with fake or meaningless orders. It is not an amount paid out to someone and is part of the Ripple protocol itself (see Ripple transaction fees).

     Funding an Account: The easiest way to fund your account is to use a Ripple activation service like Bithomp, which allows you to buy XRP with traditional payment methods like PayPal to fund your newly created account. Beyond that, you would go to the issuers themselves like Bitstamp, who as described more below will exchange and redeem any token they back on the Ripple network for real-world currencies (including USD and EUR). Specifically, you would be looking for exchanges or firms that allow withdrawal or deposit via Ripple (which The World Exchange runs on); you'll know when you see a Ripple address for deposit or withdrawal of currencies and other tickers. Lastly, you can go to cryptocurrency exchanges like Poloniex or Coinbase to buy XRP before sending it to your new account, but note they can only send and receive XRP from the Ripple Network because they don't issue or back any tokens (they are just traditional, centralized exchanges). Once you have something in your Ripple account though, you can trade it for any other token on the Ripple network using a site like this one. A list of other sites and how to use them can be found on Ripple's How to Buy XRP page.

     Tokens and Issuers: All tokens except XRP are issued by someone or some company. Their value is dependent on people's trust that whoever created the token will redeem or do other things to maintain the value; for example, if some bank issues the token XYZ to represent actual USD, they should be willing to redeem you in real cash if you send the token back to them. It's like credit cards from a bank or gift cards from a store, which otherwise have no value unless the issuing group maintains it. In the meantime, you can then use the XYZ token with others that accept it as a substitute for what it represents (the cash). The person that offers the promise to redeem is called the issuer or Gateway (in Ripple's official terms). You can find existing known issuers for any token by typing the token symbol into The World Exchange and clicking on the "Backed by ..." link to browse the list (or input an issuer address manually). If you look up any particular issuer's name, you should be able to find details on how to redeem from them or use their site to go back and forth between real-world currencies/assets and the symbols on the Ripple network.

     Sending and Receiving: Buying and selling should be pretty self-explanatory, but sending and receiving is a little trickier. You must explicitly allow each type of token you want to receive before anyone can send you anything. If you are expecting someone to send you something, make sure you added the token and its issuer to your "Receivable Tokens" settings first. Similarly, before sending to others, make sure they've also added it first to their list. All of this is done so that you do not accidentally receive tokens backed by people/companies you do not trust or know - for example, a fake USD token issued by a scammer. You do not need to do this for tokens you buy, sell, or issue, only for what others send you. The special case is if an issuer requires token holders be authorized or approved; then you'll get a message that both you and the issuer need to add each other before you can buy or sell it. The one token that does not require any of this is Ripple's native currency XRP, which no one can issue and therefore can't be faked. Note that Ripple's Gateway documentation refers to these lists as trustlines.

     Advanced Settings: More advanced users or institutions with regulatory requirements may want to implement authorization of token holders and other compliance features, which are available under the Advanced Settings window. A demo of a token that is only tradable amongst approved, whitelisted users is available here, which you'll notice can be viewed publicly but not purchased or sold unless your account has been authorized by the issuer (useful for satisfying KYC/AML requirements, especially for Securities tokens or similarly heavily regulated/restricted use cases). Note these settings can lead to loss of funds if misconfigured and are not needed for most users.

     Laws, Regulations, and Taxes: The last thing to keep in mind is this site is only a tool; you are responsible for how you use it and to be aware of what the law allows or doesn't allow in relation to blockchain-based technologies. The information on this site is by no means legal or investment advice, and you are solely responsible and liable for complying with such laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. For buyers of tokens, make sure to confirm with local and federal laws that it is actually legal in your jurisdiction to hold or trade blockchain-based tokens. Additionally, consult an accountant for properly filing taxes on any tokens you buy or sell; for most countries, trading of blockchain-based tokens is indeed taxable. For those wanting to issue their own tokens, it is highly advised that you still seek legal counsel to ensure that your usage and deployment of such tokens complies with all laws and regulations, including Securities laws. You are responsible for making sure you are in compliance with all such laws that are applicable, as well as configuring your tokens to meet compliance requirements. Again, this site only takes care of the technology side of using blockchain and not the legal. The World Exchange again is only an interface to already existing functionality on the Ripple Network. It does not process, facilitate, screen, or have any actual involvement in the execution of your transactions any more than a mobile app or 3rd party trading tool to an existing stock brokerage

How Does It Work / What's the Catch?
* and disclaimers, technicalities/legalities, etc...

     For the tech savy, The World Exchange is essentially a fully client-side wallet, a locally run tool that connects you directly with the already existing Ripple network. This is the most secure way to interact with blockchain / distributed ledger technologies by sheer design. Most exchange services turn themselves into a central point of failure by collecting user information which they must then secure. Our site is completely pass through and is an exchange in name only. This is more analogous to MyEtherWallet for Ethereum than to EtherDelta, where the former merely connects you to the Ethereum blockchain like The World Exchange does for Ripple while the latter created and operates exchange code in a smart contract (which The World Exchange does not do; Ripple already has exchange functionality built-in regardless of whether this site exists). The World Exchange does not process, facilitate, screen, or have any actual involvement in the execution of your transactions any more than a mobile app or 3rd party trading tool does to an existing stock brokerage. Again, nothing is stored or run through the site itself. You can test this yourself by saving the page and running it without actually coming to this site or by blocking theworldexchange.net on your firewall and seeing the page still work. You can even disconnect your computer from the internet completely and just create an address to deposit funds into (aka a cold wallet). It literally only runs on your computer. For those that know how to code, you can also just right-click the site and view source to see that this only interacts with the Ripple API; it's all HTML/Javascript which by nature is open-source and viewable by anyone. A Github project is also available for those who want something more spelled out. The site quite literally is just a direct user interface provided as-is and free of charge for you to use the Ripple network.

     The underlying technology behind the scenes is the Ripple consensus ledger designed to allow two parties to transmit between each other with no intermediary. It is similar to Bitcoin's blockchain technology except that it not only facilitates quick transactions with no middlemen, it also allows anyone to issue new tokens to represent value. Whereas other cryptocurrencies are just that, currencies to be traded, Ripple is actually a full-on exchange through which anything can be issued and traded. You can even trade other cryptocurrencies through Ripple itself. Like Bitcoin, it is decentralized and distributed worldwide, meaning that there is no one who can interfere with your use and no one else is responsible for anything that happens except you.

     The Ripple network is actually a mature and well-established technology in the industry that's been online since 2014. Ripple Labs, the company which created the technology, has already implemented the technology in many major banks. Their technology has a settlement time of under 4 seconds and can scale to handle as much throughput as Visa, making it technologically superior to many alternative blockchain technologies that currently exist. The Ripple network itself is just sitting there on the internet, free with no barrier to entry or cost for anyone to connect to and use. Yet, the technology has been little known publicly and virtually no one else has created a similarly free, fully featured interface to the network. This is for a number of reasons:

     Things that are free and open are very rare, and it is a natural human response to be skeptical. The nice part is because this is free and open, you don't need to speculate. Just go ahead and create an account to try things out with. Do something with it or do nothing. It is up to you. The technology, however, is here and open to all.

Further Reading and Learning

 

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