I think it's fair to say that we have all experienced first-hand and have scratched our heads countless times over the slowness and inefficiencies of traditional banking and financial systems. Remember all those times we cursed at how long it would take and how high the fees were that we had to pay just to transfer a few dollars around, especially across borders? There is hope that things will change, however, as our Stellar Lumens review unveils that there are better ways of doing this.
The day when cryptocurrencies could soon disrupt the way most people manage their monies is closer than ever as we see Stellar make leaps and bounds in growth. Stellar is an open-source, decentralized blockchain network that wants to revolutionize the way currencies and payments are being handled across the world. Through their federated network, Stellar's blockchain enables anyone to issue, exchange, and send a digital representation of any real-world asset.
Imagine if you could transfer a digitalized version of your hard-earned dollars, as you share it with your family from halfway around the globe, where they can then redeem paper dollars back in the real world. Now, imagine if you could do all that rapidly, without having to file lengthy paperwork, without having to pay huge chunks just for transfer fees, and without a tax on the environment? So, read along our Stellar review to find out why we're excited about this auspicious future.
What Is Stellar?
Stellar, or sometimes referred to as ‘Stellar Lumens‘, is an open-source, decentralized blockchain protocol designed for international payments and financial remittance settlements, as well as facilitating quick and easy cross-border transactions. Compared to most other blockchain networks that have been designed for a more general-purpose, Stellar claims to enable faster transactions at lower fees and is more energy-efficient. Its uniqueness lies in the way it manages assets.
Stellar was conceptualized in 2014 by Jed McCaleb and Joyce Kim. The former of the two was, in fact, the founder of Ripple and left in 2013 over internal conflicts over Ripple's future direction. The Stellar network was originally a fork of Ripple – which is another decentralized protocol focused on international cross-border payments and settlements. The Stellar network is supported and developed by the non-profit Stellar Development Foundation or known as the ‘SDF'.
Initially, Stellar had received $3-million in seed funding from Stripe. Later in 2015, the Stellar protocol underwent a major network update that included a new consensus algorithm, known as the Stellar Consensus Protocol (SCP), which was developed by Stanford professor David Mazières. Since then, Stellar has seen massive growth, having processed more than 450-million unique operations, made by over 4-million individual users within the Stellar ecosystem, as of writing this Stellar review.
What Are Stellar's Lumens (XLM) Cryptocurrency Tokens?
Unlike some other blockchain networks that want to replace the existing financial or monetary ecosystem, Stellar instead wants to augment their abilities and make them more efficient in a way that's already familiar and in use by most people. Stellar doesn't prioritize any single asset but allows its network to be open to the digitalization of all kinds, such as issuing digitalized versions of fiat currencies, precious metals, or just through any regular cryptocurrency or stablecoin.
Therefore, you could theoretically issue the creation of a digital US Dollar and have a 1:1 version sent across anywhere internationally to another Stellar address, and you can then redeem a real-world version of that dollar. This is supported by Stellar's ‘lumen‘ cryptocurrency token – previously called ‘stellar' – also known with its ticker name, XLM. Stellar's lumen is the native currency of the Stellar protocol and is used to power its settlement systems and pay for services within the protocol.
Primarily, the lumen was used to deter malicious actors on the Stellar blockchain, such as flooding it with spam transactions to slow it down. Therefore, every account wishing to use Stellar will need to hold a set amount of lumen and have to pay a small per-transaction fee. At the time of writing this Stellar review, the minimum balance required is 1 lumen, with a per-transaction fee of 0.00001 lumens. This is a price low enough that it will not hinder the easy accessibility of Stellar.
How Much Is One Stellar Lumen (XLM) Worth?
While writing this Stellar review, the price of one lumen is $0.421076 per XLM, which marks a monstrous gain of 34,214.71% over its all-time lows in 2014. Although the current value of one lumen is still 55.12% down from its all-time high in 2018, XLM has seen a healthy price resurgence since late 2020. Even major institutions such as Grayscale have further increased exposure for Stellar's lumen. Stellar initially had a total supply cap of 100-billion for its lumen cryptocurrency.
They had also programmed in a token supply increase of 1% every year. But this inflation mechanism was scrapped in 2019, and the overall supply of lumen was also gradually burned. As of writing this Stellar review, there are only 50,001,806,812 XLM in existence, with a circulating supply of 22,571,569,458 XLM – the remainder are held by the SDF. This puts Stellar's market capitalization value at $9,504,342,481, making Stellar the 12th-most valuable cryptocurrency.
What Are The Features of Stellar?
So far in our Stellar review, we've learned that Stellar is aiming to utilize its decentralized blockchain network to help revolutionize the international settlements and payments network. It does this not necessarily by upending or completely replacing the current financial system but by bringing more digital technologies and innovations to make it efficient. As such, you can use Stellar's protocol to issue, exchange, or transfer the digitalized forms for a large variety of different assets.
This enables complete transparency while also sending money around the world quickly, cheaply, and securely through a borderless network. It also has the added benefit of giving users the exposure and usability of a particular currency, such as the US Dollar, without needing to open a bank account within the United States. To understand more of what it can do, here are some of the core features and abilities of their protocol for our Stellar review;
1. Issue your Own Digital Tokens on Stellar
Using Stellar, you can issue your own ‘tokens,' backed by the value of a real-world asset. Essentially, it allows users to mint their own versions of how Tether has been able to digitize the US Dollar into USDT. This way, you can create a usable, valuable, exchangeable, and redeemable representation of a real-world asset. Currently, Stellar is most commonly used to create digital 1:1 tokens of fiat currencies, such as the US Dollar, Euro, Yuan, and more through its network.
But theoretically, Stellar's decentralized protocol can be used to issue digitalized representations of any traditional asset, such as agricultural crops, precious metals like gold or silver, shares of a trust, or even to represent the value of time that can be used to hourly payments. These tokens can be issued on Stellar's network, which could then be transferred across borders, or have those digital tokens be redeemed by another person for their tangible real-world item.
This is, as we'll learn next up in our Stellar review, done with the use of anchors. For example, an anchor can use Stellar's network to mint or issue $1,000 worth of digitalized USDX stablecoin tokens, backed by collateral of $1,000 real USD. A user can then deposit $100 to that anchor and then earn a 1:1 conversion of $100 USDX for them to send anywhere in the world. Conversely, a user could also send $100 USDX to the anchor and then redeem it for $100, which they can then use.
2. Enabling Efficient Cross-Border Transactions Through ‘Anchors'
Just as Stellar allows its users to mint tokens to constitute a digital version of traditional assets, its decentralized protocol relies on ‘anchors‘ to ensure that they can be sent anywhere in the world. Currently, every nation's banking system relies on a different number of payment systems, like SWIFT, SEPA, ACH, or more, that by design cannot interoperate with one another. Using Stellar and powered by its anchors, it enables international settlements to be done on a single network.
This can then allow any fiat currency to interoperate seamlessly with one another on a unified ledger. This has the benefit of making global financial services more efficient, versatile, and cheaper. In order to make sure that Stellar's network can work with the traditional banking system, it employs ‘anchors”. Stellar's anchors are commonly regulated financial institutions, such as actual banks, money exchange services, fintech companies, and more.
Anchors can then offer to issue their own 1:1 fiat-backed tokens (or stablecoins) or to provide fiat on/off-ramps using Stellar's digitalized tokens. The latter will seamlessly connect to a particular country's banking system to follow all necessary compliance measures, such as KYC/AML regulations. This will allow users to easily make deposits, withdrawals, and cross-border transfers through the anchor and have their funds sent within 3-5 seconds and with very low fees.
3. Peer-to-Peer Trading of Tokens
Apart from being able to issue and send digital tokens through Stellar's blockchain network, you can also trade them peer-to-peer (P2P), using Stellar's built-in decentralized exchange (DEX). This is unique among its competing solutions among blockchains designed for global payments. Through this exchange, there is no central controlling party and no middlemen in between. Each trade is done from one user to the next, and all trades will be logged in to Stellar's decentralized ledger.
Called StellarX, you can then use this decentralized exchange to swap between digital tokens, like a monetary exchange service. For instance, you can trade between a digital dollar for a digital Euro or use cryptocurrencies for your trading as an easy on/off-ramp to and from fiat currencies. Stellar also has built-in Kelp, which is a free-to-use, open-source, and customizable trading bot that can be integrated into StellarX for you to game the markets and profit more or help to create liquidity.
4. Instantaneous and Efficient Currency Conversion
Using Stellar's network, you can also convert tokens while they're being sent. This means that you can send one token and have your recipient receive a different one within a single transaction. This is thanks to ‘path payment,' where conversion can happen without either party being incurred delays, price deviation, added fees, increased risk, or even having to hold collateral in either currency. For this example, let's assume a company in the US is paying its employees in Europe, using US Dollars.
The company will need to have US Dollar tokens and then informs the Stellar network that they want to pay their employees in Euros. The Stellar network will then comb through the aforementioned decentralized exchange to find the best conversion rate. Once the company has confirmed the transaction, Stellar will then execute the conversion and the sending of the tokens to the employees. All of this is done efficiently within a single transaction.
Therefore, using Stellar will mean that the company doesn't need to physically hold Euros for payments or salaries, and neither do the employees need to hold US dollars that they'll then have to exchange into Euros. Neither party will need to have the other party's currency, and there's no need for slow and expensive manual conversions. Consequently, Stellar promises that different currencies can interoperate with one another seamlessly, as we've highlighted earlier on in our Stellar review.
How Has Stellar Been Used in the Real World?
By now, in our Stellar review, we've learned that Stellar's decentralized blockchain wants to accomplish more than just facilitating borderless payments and transactions. They have offered a platform where currencies and assets of all shapes and forms – such as precious metals, cryptocurrencies, or shares – can interoperate with one another. It means that users can exchange from one currency to another and send them around the world within seconds and with low fees.
They have since been working closely with a large basket of global institutions and corporations in enabling Stellar's technology to be used in real-time for enabling cross-border payments solutions. Since 2015, their partnerships have grown from using their lumens cryptocurrency tokens with Vumi's open-source messaging platform to track mobile data talk time to partnering up with the likes of Deloitte and ICICI Bank for international settlements and remittances.
1. IBM World Wire
IBM launched its ‘World Wire‘ initiative to find new and innovative solutions to upend cross-border payments in a way to find more cost-effective and time-efficient means of sending money around the world. This is an especially large problem for major financial institutions, which send trillions of dollars every single day, being sent on a payments standard and system that is decades old. The complexity, inefficiency, and slowness have led IBM to partner up and utilize Stellar's blockchain.
Using a publicly permissioned global network, the world's financial organizations that adopt IBM's World Wire initiative can connect through a specialized API to then conduct transactions on Stellar's network. This has several benefits, on top of Stellar's ability to allow its network participants to issue their own digital assets. The settlement of payments can be done securely and quickly, under regulatory compliance, and with scalability for high volumes across 47 currencies in 72 countries.
2. Tempo, and Cowrie
Both Tempo and Cowrie are using Stellar's blockchain to build their own remittance network powered by Stellar, with the goal of efficient money transfers across borders. Tempo is an electronic payments solution and is the primary anchor for Stellar in the EU. Meanwhile, Cowrie is a fintech company that is integrating value-added services on top of payments networks. They are also a principal anchor in Nigeria, issuing NGNT tokens on Stellar that are pegged to the Nigerian Naira.
Traditional means of remittance settlements are often slow and plagued with high fees to cover the cost of their technological inefficiencies. Moreover, sending money across borders might also incur unfavorable exchange rates between currencies, and thus causing both sender and receiver a loss of value for every transfer. Using Stellar, both Cowrie and Tempo have worked together to issue a new NGNT-EURT corridor on Stellar's blockchain, allowing the exchange from Naira to Euro.
This has allowed payments, whether through B2B, B2C, or C2C channels, Stellar can make it happen within seconds and with minimal fees. The ease of interoperability has also allowed for the Euro and the Naira to gain favorable forex rates thanks to Stellar while ensuring maximal transparency on behalf of the customers that rely on Tempo and Cowrie's services. Daily payments volume has risen fivefold, with an average of 500,000 Euros sent each week, taking less than 10 seconds to settle.
Based in London, SatoshiPay's services help to facilitate B2B (Business-to-Business) cross-border payments and integrating microtransactions processing using its blockchain-based platform. Now, they've undertaken the intense task of solving ways of finding better and equitable means of consuming online content. Often, online content is funded either freely through the implementation of advertisements or through a paywall or subscription to access it.
Both ways can prove inefficient for both the consumer and the publisher, not to mention the costs to the user's privacy. Using Stellar, SatoshiPay can allow for publishers to integrate a Stellar wallet and thus allow their consumers to make donations or pay microtransactions to access the content. So far, the implementation has seen SatoshiPay process more than 1,000,000 Euros in microtransactions, with each costing a fee of just €0.00001 on average and taking no more than 5 seconds to process.
One of the most difficult things to do for an immigrant is to financially support their families back home. Powered by Stellar's blockchain, Saldo wants to help make this process much easier, quicker, and cheaper by allowing immigrants to support their loved ones by helping to pay for their bills and expenses. Using the Saldo mobile app, the user can then use a specially issued Mexican Peso token on Stellar, using the US Dollars that they have earned.
The payment can then be used with more than 50 different utility providers in Mexico, such as needing to pay for their electrical bills, internet, mortgage, phone top-ups, and more. This has allowed Saldo's users to adopt Stellar's technology in enabling cross-border and cross-currency payments to happen in real-time. One major advantage aside from that is Stellar's low-fee currency conversion and not needing to go through costly and inconvenient money changing service.
What Are Stellar's Future Roadmap Updates?
Stellar has recently experienced a healthy amount of growth, following a partnership between the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) and the government of Ukraine to update the latter's digital infrastructure, including the creation of Ukraine's central bank digital currency (CBDC). Stellar's roadmap updates for 2021 shows that they're very busy, indeed. For the most part, Stellar's 2021 will be focused primarily on organic growth and increasing adoption for their blockchain.
Stellar will optimize the security and scalability of its blockchain. They are targeting a 5x growth in transaction volumes. Meanwhile, they're also looking to innovating and integrating more layer 2 scaling solutions, which can help to “bridge” Stellar's blockchain protocol with other protocols or side-chains. Stellar will also work towards building an automated market maker (AMM), alongside over-the-counter (OTC) trading, for improved liquidity on their decentralized exchange.
On top of this, Stellar will work to boost its publicity efforts through more marketing campaigns and a proactive approach to attracting new corporate partnerships. The Stellar Enterprise Fund, which was founded in 2019, will help with this to invest in new and promising startups or businesses, which can then integrate Stellar's blockchain solutions. They will then work towards attracting more anchors around the world to help build at least four new currency corridors.
Stellar Lumens Review – Conclusion
Finally, we have come to the end of our Stellar review, and we can begin to summarise the project as a whole, and whether it's worthy of your attention. Simply put, it's hard not to get excited over Stellar's future prospects and how their blockchain has already been hard at work in changing up the way that we've traditionally settled for payments and transfers across borders. There is a big open world to explore out there, but to venture through it has been a very troublesome experience.
You can't go very far without at least some money in your pocket. But what's the point when money takes days or weeks to send from one place to the next, and costs you a pretty penny just to pay for the processing fees? We can send text messages within milliseconds to other people from all four corners of the globe, so why can't we do the same with money? Thankfully, the time for a revolution has come, and if our Stellar review is anything to go by, we've only seen the tip of this iceberg.
Stellar Lumens Review
Ease of Use
- Easy adaptable, and versatile blockchain that can be used in a wide variety of different financial applications, such as cross-border settlements, payments, microtransactions, etc.
- Transactions are processed and confirmed quickly compared to some other blockchains, taking an average of 3-5 seconds.
- Very low processing and transaction fees on its blockchain relative to other decentralized protocols, with an average minimum fee of 0.00001 XLM.
- Very low processing and transaction fees on its blockchain relative to other decentralized protocols, with an average minimum fee of 0.00001 XLM.
- Stellar's blockchain can facilitate the issuance or tokenization of a large variety of assets other than fiat- or cryptocurrencies.
- Quick, cheap, and easy currency conversions from any number of fiat currencies, and thanks to Stellar's liquid decentralized exchange to find the best forex rates.
- Stellar will face intense competition from other competing blockchain protocols, and especially from decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms.