The ongoing debate about the centralization of XRP and XRPL has reignited, with CyberCapital founder and CIO Justin Bons claiming that Ripple executives are falsely promoting XRP as a decentralized and permissionless network.
Bons asserts that XRP's consensus relies on Unique Node Lists (UNLs), which are lists of trusted nodes published by centralized parties, including XRPL Foundation. If a node is not on this list, it is deemed untrusted and cannot participate in the consensus. Moreover, users must receive permission from trusted third parties chosen by XRPL Foundation, meaning that XRP is not trustless and contradicts basic principles of a decentralized network.
I have had conversations with @HammerToe & @JoelKatz, but I found their arguments unconvincing— Justin Bons (@Justin_Bons) May 6, 2023
I even went over those conversations before writing this thread
I will be happy to be corrected if I am wrong, as these individuals obviously know far more about XRP than I do
In response, ex-Ripple Director of Developer Relations Matt Hamilton argued that each node is responsible for its own UNL and chooses its contents. He added that there is no central authority, and XRPL Foundation's UNL is the result of an emergent community desire to use a non-Ripple UNL. This, he claims, disproves Bons' claims that the network is permissioned.
Ripple CTO David Schwartz, one of the architects of XRPL, said that validators do not have control over transaction inclusion, but rather solve the double-spend problem and choose which of two equally-valid but conflicting transactions is included. XRPL executes or defers transactions in consensus rounds, and if any honest node detects a validator doing bad things, it ignores that validator. Moreover, the network operates on the premise of breaking ties among equally good but conflicting transactions.
The debate around the centralization of XRP and XRPL has been ongoing, with supporters and opponents actively defending their views for several weeks now. Bons also previously stated that Bitcoin (BTC) is not a decentralized network either.