No One Knows What to Call the Hottest Cryptocurrency

(Bloomberg) -- The cryptocurrency widely known as Ripple is on a tear. Problem is, that’s not its actual name.

That would be XRP, a token created for use on the Ripple payment protocol back in 2012.

Confused? You’re not alone.

Ripple Labs Inc., where one of the creators of XRP serves as chief technology officer, insists on noting that the token is different than the open-source network. Crypto Twitter is in a lather. And why not, the token was referred to early on as “ripples (XRP).”

But really, there’s not that much to get worked up about. It’s all part of a branding effort by Ripple Labs, which owns about 60 percent of XRP. The company even created a flow chart to help explain the differences.

(The company’s named after the Grateful Dead song. Let’s leave aside that, for a certain vintage of reader, it also invokes images of the fortified wine Fred Sanford sipped on TV in the ’70s.)

Well and good. But Ripple Labs is bumping up against an age-old problem when it comes to branding -- forcing a change on the public isn’t exactly easy.

Remember New Coke? How about when PricewaterhouseCoopers tried to rename its consulting arm Monday? Or ask any New Yorker what bridge connects the Bronx with Manhattan and Queens and they’ll tell you the TriBoro. It’s officially been the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge for a decade.

Then there’s FedEx and 3M, both of which, um, chose to adopt the common shorthand for their longer formal names.

Whatever Ripple Labs’ preference, a token by any other name would still be worth 59 cents.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.