Presently, there are more than 1,600 crypto-assets in the world. However, while many of these cryptocurrencies have little or no use cases, there are a handful of projects that have real-life uses that have all it takes to disrupt traditional systems. One such healthy and credible project is Stellar Lumens, the solid foundation behind XLM, which is the sixth largest digital asset currently in the cryptospace.
The Stellar Lumens Project
Created in 2014 by Jed McCaleb, the founder of the now-defunct Mt.Gox crypto exchange, in collaboration with Joyce Kim, Stellar Lumens primary objective is to provide a fast, secure, cheap and efficient blockchain for facilitating cross-border payments with its native Lumen altcoin (XLM).
It’s noteworthy that Stellar Lumens was hard forked from Ripple. However, while both projects appear to be chasing same goals –facilitating cross-border payments – if you look closely, you’ll find the fundamental differences between Ripple and Stellar Lumens.
Stellar Lumens presents itself as a non-profit organization that “connects people to low-cost financial services to fight poverty and develop individual potential.” Stellar uses the Stellar Consensus Mechanism to verify transactions, and anyone can validate transactions on the network.
On the other hand, Ripple is a for-profit platform focused on creating blockchain-based payment networks (xCurrent and xRapid) targeted at large financial institutions and operates a permissioned ledger that makes it impossible for just anybody to validate transactions on the platform.
Interestingly, some observers believe that Stellar Lumens is not entirely decentralized since it depends on centralized organizations or anchors to carry out its core functions.
Anchors are banks and other financial institutions that have adopted and integrated Stellar into their systems. They function as a bridge between fiat currencies and the Stellar network.
For instance, if an immigrant worker in the US wants to send let’s say $5000 to his folks in another part of the world, instead of using remittance services like Western Union which charges huge fees, the sender can just give the $5000 to an anchor (a partner bank) which will put a tokenized version of the $5k onto the Stellar network and send to the immigrant’s folks who will receive Lumens within five seconds and take it to another anchor in their region who will give them their preferred fiat money at the best rate.
Stellar is not interested in replacing traditional financial institutions; instead, it focuses on enhancing the way these institutions send money around the world.
Formerly called stellar (STR), in 2015 the Stellar Lumens project renamed the coin Lumen (XLM) in a bid to distinguish the coin from the network itself and the non-profit, Stellar.org.
Unlike bitcoin that is controlled by nobody, in particular, Stellar has a board of directors that make critical decisions for the project.
However, the project is much more decentralized than its primary competitor Ripple, whose code is closed source and cannot be modified by the public.
After McCaleb left Ripple to form Stellar Lumen in 2014, Ripple and Stellar shared a large chunk of code. The original Stellar Lumen code is known as Stellard and was used by the project until 2015 when the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) migrated to the Stellar Core payment system protocol.
With Stellar Core active, Prof.David Mazieres, Chief Scientist at Stellar.org, developed a new consensus algorithm called Stellar Consensus Protocol (SCP) for the project in 2015.
As stated by Stellar.org, SCP “provides a way to reach consensus without relying on a closed system to accurately record financial transactions,”
SCP has four unique properties which are: decentralized control, low latency, flexible trust and asymptotic security.
Low Latency – unlike in bitcoin and some other cryptos where miners confirm transactions on the network, Stellar does not support mining. Instead, it utilizes message passing and voting system that confirms transactions on the network every 2 to 5 seconds.
Asymptotic security – It is practically impossible for a 51% attack also called double-spend attack to be carried out on the network as there are no cryptographic puzzles to be solved on the system.
Stellar Lumen has formed strategic alliances with quite many institutions in recent times.
On October 15, 2018, the Stellar team announced their partnership with IBM and KlickEx, to develop a DLT-based cross-border payment solution that would reduce cost and drastically increase transaction speeds.
“For the first time, public blockchain technology is being used in production to facilitate cross-border payments in multiple integrated currency corridors, ” said co-founder of Stellar, Jed McCaleb. He added,
“Currently, cross-border payments take up to several days to clear, but the adoption of Stellar Lumen will provide a more efficient way for the firms to move money around the world.”
More recently, in July 2018 to be precise, the Stellar project was endorsed by the Shariyah Review Bureau (SRB), a leading international Shariah advisory agency licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain.
In that same month, mobile payments processor, TransferTo joined forces with Stellar to enable them to offer clients better international money transfer services.
According to the Stellar team, all members of the Stellar Development Foundation have been with the project since the it was established and they serve for life and are in charge of electing the Board of Directors. The Stellar.org SDF members are Jed McCaleb, Patrick Collison, and Professor David Mazieres.
Jed McCaleb – he’s a co-founder of the Stellar project and also an experienced developer. McCaleb is the creator of the first bitcoin exchange in the world, MtGox, the Ripple project and eDonkey2000, a file sharing network that is no longer functional.
Patrick Collison –he’s a Stellar advisor, the CEO, and co-founder of Stripe, a Fintech firm that facilitates online payments for individuals and businesses. Collision is also a member of the board of overseers at Y Combinator. He studied mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has been a bitcoin investor since 2011.
Prof. David Mazieres –he’s the Chief Scientist of Stellar Lumen. He’s a professor of Computer Science at Stanford University. Prof. Mazieres currently leads the Secure Computer Systems Group at Stanford University, he obtained a BS in Computer Science from Harvard University, and he has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.
The highly reputed researcher has interests in Operating Systems and Distributed Systems with a significant focus on security.
Other members of the Stellar Lumen team include:
Bartek Nowotarski – Developer
Boris Reznikov – Partnerships
Ella Qiang – Partnerships China
Lisa Nestor – Partnerships
Nicolas Barry – CTO
Rafal Malinowski –Developer
Scott Fleckenstein – Developer
Tunde Ladipo – Partnerships
Keith Rabois – Investment Partner
Matt Mullenweg – Founder of WordPress.com, and more.