- Published: 16 January 2018 16 January 2018
Last week Tunde Lapido, Head of Partnerships at Stellar.org, gave a presentation at a meet-up in London to broaden the overview and opportunity that the Stellar blockchain appears to present
A few Stellar facts:
Stellar offers very cheap and fast secure blockchain transactions. You can make around 100,000 transactions for less than 0.01 USD. The basis for how Stellar works is based on email. You can send an email to the person sat next to you or a friend on the other side of the world for very little in time difference. In some cases it may take longer for the person next to you to receive the email, than the person thousands of miles away. As we are talking seconds or fractions of seconds, who is counting?
Tunde emphasises that payments should share this essential characteristic; we should be able to send value like an email, anywhere in the world and to whomever we like.
The technology framework is open source and can be used by anyone. This opens the door for all kinds of social banking networks. To start you need an anchor that can inject liquidity into a float so that deposits can be accepted and credits can be issued.
As long as you know how much fiat currency you want to send then you can transmit from your app, up to your anchors float. From here the equivalent value is converted into Stellar’s cryptocurrency token, Stellar Lumens (XLM), and the whole network is searched for the best exchange rate with which to complete the deal.
Once the best deal is found, then the tokens can be exchanged into the desired currency and then sent to the recipient account, be they an individual on a subsistence farm in Africa or a large organisation based in Singapore. All of this process takes place in under 5 seconds and costs a fraction of a penny.
The scalability of the platform is really down to how many anchors there are setting up floats on the network and judging by the number of investors, entrepreneurs and bankers in the room yesterday, coupled with the long list of participating start-ups, money transfer organisations and banks already implementing the Stellar blockchain, this is all just a matter of time.
Other serious partners include IBM and Deloittes. Both are using Stellar as their preferred blockchain technology, developing banking solutions that can serve a wide range of end users.
Starting “where the pain is”
Stellar began deployment in the poorest regions in Africa, as this is where low-cost disruptive money transfer and management systems are really needed. With an estimated 2 billion people around the world who do not have access to the mainstream financial services, being able to provide the “unbanked” with virtually free banking for any amount of money transfer, is a huge leap forward in how we can improve vulnerable peoples lives.
Through Stellar.org partners, like Clic.World, these projects are already out there and growing. Clic.world has a new app available for download where anyone can join the network and start playing with this form of financial innovation. Another attractive proposition for organisations to start using these applications is that these services can be white-labeled, so that any institution large or small can use it for their own purposes.
No Earth consuming energy consumption required
Because Stellar Development Foundation has issued 100 billion Lumens (XRP) token, it does not work on the same decentralised mining platform that Bitcoin or Ethereum uses to issue more coins. It is the process of mining that is estimated to make bitcoin consume the same amount of energy daily as some small countries consume annually. Although there are mining facilities in places like Iceland running off 100% renewables, this energy consumption makes bitcoin ridiculously ecologically unfriendly.
Stellar on the other hand can process huge transactions in a few seconds because there is not the cumbersome weight of multiple mining operations churning through mathematical equations. Although in time we will see an overall transformation of the global energy supply to renewable energy, we will also see rising demand across the planet. The question of whether we really need to be squandering it on these kinds of uses is easy to answer: no, we don’t!
Global carbon accounting
This is one area that is of particular interest to me, and that I’ll be producing more interviews and articles on going forward, the creation and easy management of carbon markets. With climate change impacts now putting pressure on both Earth and societal systems around the world, there is a desperate need for real value to be placed on carbon.
In order to do this, complex accounting systems have to be implemented that can calculate the true value of living carbon (soil, trees, rainforests, etc), in order to make sure the costs of protection, restoration, and support for those living among them are met.
When we consider that there is a carbon cost to everything we do (especially the wealthiest 10% of us), then it is easy to see why bankers, retailers, governments and many other actors are holding meeting after meeting this year to look at embedding the cost into current systems to attenuate their future risk.
Stellar blockchain has the credentials to tackle this problem because of speed and low cost. A few pennies on every transaction that is transparently transferred to accredited projects that preserve carbon sinks could inject trust, and therefore value, into these undeveloped markets.
Spreading to the developed world
Stellar is based in San Francisco and the founder is Jed McCaleb, a co-founder of Ripple, the other blockchain technology that seems to have found its utility in providing a framework for high-speed, low-cost transactions.
Stellar’s USP appears to be it speed and low price and its scalability right down to the end user. After all, it is us end users who are the early adopters and innovators of technology, not large slow moving banking corporations.
The other issue for Ripple is that many organisations using it are not actually using the XRP cryptocurrency. This could provide issues for holders of XRP down the line. With Stellar Lumen, XLM, the cryptocurrency element is central to the whole proposition. This means (a hopefully stable) appreciation for holders.
Smart contracts that have been the key to Ethereum’s success are also possible using Stellar. This means there is a swathe of ICO’s in development on the Stellar blockchain. We will be looking closely at some of these in future articles.
The key takeaway here is that Stellar seems to be serving a whole bunch of needs in a very effective way. Fast and cheap, secure and compliant with all the usual Know Your Customer (KYC) checks in place to keep the criminal fraternity at bey.
What’s in it for the Stellar team?
The top team come with distinguished careers in the banking and fintech space. Tunde claims to have worked just about everywhere and in everything except as a GP. His previous job was working for the Tony Blair Foundation in Africa.
Developing this technology with such intrinsic value and real-world applications that hum of disruption, it is not hard to see that Stellar is going to be around and in the mainstream going forward. These are early days.
The transactions are so cheap they provide virtually no revenue for the not-for-profit but Stellar.org have held back 5% of the XLM coin allocation for their own project use. That is 5% of 100 billion lumens. I think that is just enough reward for just enough real-world application.
That said, the organisation is currently offering 550,000 XLM every 3 months for the brightest project application. The judging panel is independent and if your pitch is good enough, the resulting proposition could take shape as one of the most exciting blockchain ecosystems out there right now. Visit: https://www.stellar.org/lumens/build/
Roadmaps and timelines
Earlier this year Stellar released their 2018 roadmap with an emphasis on bringing their Stellar Decentralised Exchange (SDEX) to the market-place with the following key attributes:
– Day One trading for any Stellar ICO token
– atomic pathfinding to discover the cheapest rates between any two assets
– very low trading fees
– end-user control of secret keys
They are also currently offering up to $2million for partners who fall into the anchor and marketmaker categories mentioned earlier. This is quite a substantial sum but necessary if Stellar are to be a word-class exchange platform.
With the recent dip in cryptocurrency markets, many are getting edging about the long-term viability of businesses moving into this space. This is probably because of the hype that seems to have infected just about every journalistic scribe in Britain (and the world probably). Tabloid newspapers print schizophrenic daily pieces, one minutes screaming perilous risk and the next highlighting the best buy.
What many of us are interested in is how this technology can improve lives and be part of the design tool-kit urgently needed to build tomorrow’s systems urgently needed today. Stellar created 37 partnerships with IBM and the like last year. They say they will be announcing worldwide partnership events this spring. Many of us are watching with bated breath.