From all the coverage given to Bitcoin over the last few months, it would be easy to assume that it was the only cryptocurrency worth knowing about, but that’s very far from the case. And of the many alt-coins out there, and there are estimated to be over 1600 as of March 2018, one that is gaining a great deal of attention at the moment is Stellar. It has risen from relative obscurity to be the eight largest in terms of market capitalization at $4.3 billion and, while this may be just a fraction of Bitcoin’s $139 billion, it has already been shown to offer a number of advantages over the headline-grabbing alternative.
Stellar was first created in 2014 by Jed McCaleb and his partner Joyce Kim. Previously McCaleb had created the well-known file sharing network eDonkey2000 as well as Mt. Gox, the world’s first Bitcoin exchange. With Stellar, the aim was to create an open source, community-owned, distributed network with the primary aim of making money transfers between countries and fiat currencies cheap, fast and simple. The original Stellar network was based on the Ripple cryptocurrency protocol but in 2015 it was completely re-coded to create a unique system.
While Stellar is the name of the organisation behind the currency, the units themselves are called Lumens (expressed as XLM in currency exchanges). On launch 100 billion Lumens were created and each year an extra 1% are added to account for inflation.
It’s fair to say that the Stellar organization is genuinely altruistic as its aim has always been to give individuals and organizations access to low cost financial services. Therefore, since its launch, it has given away around 8 billion Lumens with the aim of helping communities to use them to create the services that they need.
This is all well and good, but why would it be worth considering trading in stellar lumens? There are a number of reasons, the first of which is that it is a cryptocurrency which has been created with a clear purpose in mind rather than simply as a speculative endeavour. The fact that Stellar has also been keen to work with other organizations is also crucial. So far it has established partnerships with IBM to facilitate cross-country financial transactions for their banking clients as well as with Satoshipay, EXCH.ONE, Kilckex, Mobius and HashCash. It’s also thought that they are keen to work with social media platforms like WhatsApp to offer their transaction services to users.
The Stellar organisation also stands out for the fact that its transaction fees really are affordable for all, standing at just 0.00001 XLM with a Lumens worth around $0.44 at the end of April 2018. It is also unusual, in the male-dominated cryptocurrency world, in that 50% of their employees are women. Their commitment to promoting equality of opportunity is also demonstrated by their contribution to a scheme to give greater access to education for women and girls in South Africa.
So at a time when ethics and corporate social responsibility are assuming ever greater importance, Stellar scores highly in these respects too. As to whether it will fulfil all of the good predictions made about the organization as a whole, only time will tell. But no-one will be too surprised if, with its track record and heritage, it really does end up reaching for the stars.