Ripple is a distinct protocol, as opposed to altcoins. Ripple bills itself as a payment system as well as a currency and distributed currency exchange. The currency units within the Ripple protocol are called ripples. “What ripple is trying to do is to be a protocol like SMTP for moving money,” said Chris Larsen, founder and chief executive of Ripple Labs, referring to the protocol that makes it possible to send emails. “More significant than the idea of a virtual currency is the idea of a value web,” he said.