XRP has been always regarded with much skepticism due to its ambiguous relation with decentralization. This is due to Ripple company owning a large amount of XRP, and until recently, an operator of a majority of the validator nodes on the XRP blockchain. This means Ripple has a great deal of control over the XRP network, which doesn’t make it decentralized.
The Ripple company has begun closing down their validator nodes and letting third-party nodes to run on the network, bringing XRP closer to real decentralization.
Ripple currently operates 48% of the validator nodes on the ‘Unique Node List’ (UNL) which in some way makes the network decentralized seeing as majority control belongs to various third parties which operate the 52%.
“Over the year, Ripple has been sticking to their roadmap of slowly decentralizing the XRP Ledger by adding third-party validators to the default UNL. For every two third-party validators added to the default UNL, Ripple will remove one of theirs.” -reported AMB Crypto.
“The process has taken place over the year, as per Ripple’s decentralization strategy. Currently, as Ripple controls 10 of the 21 nodes on the default UNL, they effectively operate only 48% of the validator nodes. This is notwithstanding that each node on the network can determine the UNL they want to process their transactions, effectively allowing for a measure of decentralization through choice.”
There is still a long way to go for Ripple in order to achieve complete decentralization, as 48% of the network is still a considerable number of nodes which can be used to manipulate a great part of the network. Even though there have been no incidents or evidence to point towards manipulatory actions on the company’s part, a network can’t be truly decentralized if a single entity/company has control of a majority of it.
All things considered, this move is a step forward for Ripple’s progression and XRP’s development as a partially decentralized asset.