Sitting among the 30 biggest cryptocurrencies by market cap, Stellar is focused on bridging the gap between the business of blockchain and the traditional financial institutions. The platform provides a means for users to send assets and money through the blockchain, utilising a decentralised network of authenticators.
Redefining the financial landscape, Steller presents a digital transformation on the traditional services users have become accustomed to. Merging innovation with a practical application, the network is able to help users around the world, as well as financial industries, achieve a more streamlined service. Let's explore what Stellar is.
Before we dive into the "what", let's first stipulate that one stellar is known as a lumen and uses the ticker XLM. Stellar launched in July 2014 and soon afterwards changed its strategy to be more focused on integrating blockchain technology into financial institutions.
The concept behind Stellar is to provide a space in which users can transfer everything from traditional crypto and fiat currencies to tokens representing new and existing assets, increasing their transaction performance by using lumens.
Similar to the Ripple XRP network, Stellar is designed to cater to both payment providers and financial institutions, building a bridge between the blockchain and traditional financial sector. Developing on the Ripple concept, Stellar has also positioned itself as an exchange as its ledger has an inbuilt order book that keeps track of all the assets on the network.
The founders of Stellar are Jed McCaleb and Joyce Kim, both previously employees at Ripple. McCaleb, who founded and was acting CTO of Ripple, and lawyer Joyce Kim, decided to create Stellar after they left the Ripple team in 2013 following a disagreement on the direction that Ripple was taking. McCaleb is also credited with creating the first successful Bitcoin exchange, Mt Gox.
McCaleb described Stellar's aim as giving people a means of moving their fiat into crypto and more seamlessly conducting international payments. The network provides cross border transactions with low transaction fees and fast executions. With leading technology and innovative problem solving, the network has made a healthy impression on both institutions and investors alike.
Stellar is a hard fork off of the Ripple network with several similarities in design and functionality, however, the platform set itself apart by building in several key features. The platform is secured through the Stellar Consensus Protocol which revolves around these core business concepts: decentralised control, flexible trust, low latency, and asymptotic security.
The biggest upgrade launch came in 2015 when the platform replaced its consensus mechanism with a concept called federated Byzantine agreement. This required nodes to vote on transactions until quorums are reached. Anyone is able to join the consensus, and there are measures in place to inhibit bad actors operating with ill intent on the network.
The software behind the platform is called Stellar Core and can be altered to adhere to the needs of the operation using it. The nodes making up the network can be created to function as either Watchers, Archivers, Basic Validators or Full Validators. For example, watchers can only submit transactions while Full Validators can vote on which transactions are valid and maintain a ledger of all node activity.
Another element to the network is the Stellar Anchors. These gateways are responsible for accepting deposits of currencies and assets and issuing depictions of these on Stellar.
Known as lumens, XLM is the native cryptocurrency to the Stellar platform. XLM acts as an intermediary currency for transactions taking place on the network. With cost-effective experience priorities, every transaction on the Stellar network costs 0.00001 XLM, a fraction of a dollar (at the time of writing).
When the platform launched in 2014, 100 billion lumens were minted, programmed to increase by 1% annually until the total supply reached 105 billion. Five years later the Stellar uses voted to end this process.
That same year, in 2019, the Stellar Development Foundation (a non-profit organisation) reduced its share of XLM in order to regulate the Stellar economy. This brought the total supply down to 50 billion. At the time of writing, roughly 49% of this total supply is in circulation.