RippleLabs is a Fintech company who have developed an open-source consensus ledger called XRP Ledger (XRPL). XRP is the native cryptocurrency of the XRP Ledger that facilitates the transactions on the Ripple network. XRP is pre-mined and uses a less complicated mining method than Bitcoin.
The purpose of XRP as a cryptocurrency is to serve as an intermediary exchange between two currencies or networks. All transactions that go through the XRP network must be agreed by trusted nodes on the Ripple Protocol Consensus Algorithm for them to be included in the XRPL.
XRP does not require mining in the way that other cryptocurrencies do, it is pre-mined, which means the energy costs to create XRP is lower than Bitcoin because of this. The total supply of XRP is 100 billion coins. Ripple Labs created all these coins for distribution to investors and developers who want to use their platform for projects such as sending money across borders at low cost with minimal hassle, something they call "the Internet of Value". In short, it is a great way to make international payments without going through banks and paying.
RippleNet is a global network of payment providers built on top of the XRPL that connects the payment networks of banks, digital asset exchanges and corporate entities.
The RippleNet platform accepts any form of cryptocurrency and allows instant monetary transactions around the globe.
Ripple was founded as a peer-to-peer network where users could make loans and open credit lines without using banks. In 2012, Ripple became OpenCoin as a network for money transfers and launched its cryptocurrency, XRP, in the same year.
OpenCoin then became RippleLabs in 2013. The company quickly found itself in business with the US Government through the OpenCoin Incubator program. In 2013, Ripple became a legal player in the world of finance and was awarded a contract by numerous banks, notably Western Union. Ripple Labs is in control of most XRP tokens, which are used for their payment system. The other 50%+ of the coins were distributed to investors and developers that use them on Ripple's platform. Some people believe that this makes it more centralised than Bitcoin because they can release new currency at any time without consulting with others or warning about what will happen next.
The fact that Ripple's currency isn't limited in the same way Bitcoin is, is what makes it unique.
Unlike Bitcoin, XRP can be used in worldwide transfers without worrying about government interference, seizure of funds, or transaction blockades.