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Ripple co-founder: Cryptocurrency needs a decentralized network to be successful

  • Cryptocurrency and the underlying blockchain technology need a decentralized network in order to be successful in the long term, says Ripple co-founder Jed McCaleb.
  • "The real vision is that you have a network, much like the internet, that anyone can participate in," says McCaleb, who also co-founded Stellar.
  • Stellar's currency, unlike Ripple's, is an "internet-level protocol" that is not controlled by one centralized network, he says.

Cryptocurrency and the underlying blockchain technology need a decentralized network in order to be successful long term, said Ripple co-founder Jed McCaleb.

Use of a centralized financial payment network will result in "a system that is no better than SWIFT or PayPal," McCaleb said.

"The real vision is that you have a network, much like the internet, that anyone can participate in," McCaleb said Friday on CNBC's "Fast Money." "There's not one central entity that can decide that it's going to start charging. This is the way this thing can actually grow and reach ubiquity."

"That's the key thing to make these things successful," he said.

McCaleb co-founded Ripple, whose ripple currency is the third-largest digital coin by market cap, but split off from the Ripple team to form Stellar in 2014 because of different beliefs in how the system should be run.

"It's very hard to run nodes outside of ... Ripple Labs," McCaleb said of ripple coins. "[The Ripple team is] running the majority of the nodes, which should be concerning for people."

The developer, who also created the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange and then sold it in 2011, said the only other successful decentralized network he's seen is the internet.

"What we're trying to build at Stellar is an internet-level protocol," said McCaleb, Stellar's chief technology officer. "That's important that that be done by a nonprofit entity. If you imagine an internet created by a for-profit company, it would just be a very different world."

Another key to Stellar's success, McCaleb said, is to not limit the investor base to a few participants.

"One of the things we're doing at Stellar is distributing the underlying coin very widely," he said.

Stellar's XLM coins, known as lumens, were among the 10 largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization earlier this year. But the currency has declined approximately 34 percent so far this year.

The coin's transaction settlement times are 5 seconds or less, a fraction of bitcoin's time, McCaleb said.

Earlier this week, McCaleb told CNBC that cryptocurrency and the underlying blockchain technology will change the way banking takes place in the future by creating a public ledger that everyone can see — but that cannot be changed at random.

Within the next 10 years, McCaleb predicted most assets, even non-crypto assets, will become digitized.