Stellar and the State of Cryptocurrency

The past twelve months have been . . . interesting. Even with the recent downturn, the superficial metrics of Stellar’s performance have risen spectacularly over the last year. Like everyone else in cryptocurrency, we spent 2017 on a rocketship strapped to a missile strapped to an off-brand roman candle made of pure gains.

2017 Cryptocurrency Price Performance

This was supposed to show the top ten coins by market cap at the end of December, but three didn’t even exist a year ago, so I couldn’t get them on my nice graph. Anyone can see these multiples are absurd; it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out, and what gifs people will use to express their pain.

We’ve been around long enough to know: today’s market fluctuations are meaningless for the real future of blockchain. Crypto is a crowded space. There are a lot of unproven ideas out there. The winning decentralized payment technologies will be the ones:

– that scale
– that are provably secure
– that have credit-card-like transaction latencies

We work every day to make sure Stellar’s actual tech meets these requirements. Right now, we can handle a thousand operations a second. Stellar’s consensus protocol is provably safe. (See Mazières, 2015—a paper so good it still makes the front page of hackernews.) Our last transaction settled in 4.96 seconds. When it comes to (cost × lag) for the largest platforms, we are more than happy to have the bottom left-hand corner of the plot all to ourselves:

Crypto Platform Performance

2017 was something no one in the industry could’ve anticipated. No doubt, Stellar’s current valuation gives us flexibility that would’ve been unthinkable a year ago. We pledge to use our resources to ensure that people are talking about Stellar, building on Stellar, and using Stellar in 2020 and beyond.

We know price is meaningless without performance. We are working toward a future where Stellar is the global protocol for asset exchange; we are focused exclusively on that long-term goal. Here’s what we did in 2017 that moved us closer to it.

Our Technology

This past year, we merged 128 pull requests (over 600 scalability/security commits) to the Stellar Core repository. Our Stellar Consensus Protocol has now had two years of field-testing, and this year we added smart-contract functionality to allow creative applications like crowdfunding, escrow, and dividends.

Beyond Core: we merged many of our other Go repositories into our monorepo. Please check it out if you’re interested in Stellar Horizon, our Bridge Server, our Compliance Protocol, or Federation.

ICO support: in response to increasing ICO usage for Stellar, we released Bifrost, a tool that allows Stellar token-issuers to accept ETH or BTC from contributors and automatically assign them accounts with their new tokens.

Developer Ecosystem: Stellar Ledger Nano Support we added, through the Stellar Build Challenge, lumen support on the Ledger Nano S, meaning we have hardware wallet support for the first time. This is one of many independent Stellar-focused projects completed this year, and the personal favorite of many here at the office. We reward third-party development on our platform via the Build Challenge; if you have the talent and the drive, submit something.

Stepping back a bit, it’s obvious that our entire sector will soon have to live up to its own hype. Some of the most popular technologies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, will have to solve their scalability issues. Newer ideas will have to make it from their clean, white papers into the messy (and decidedly gray) real world. The good people of Dentacoin will have to show real progress in the fight against the tyranny of centralized orthodontia. Don’t tread on me, or my teeth! And of course the artist inside us yearns to see which platform will finally push the tasteful arrangement of polygons to its aesthetic limit.

Novel ways to arrange polygons!

There are a lot of questions marks out there. On the other hand . . . Stellar’s code has been in live production for years. Our founder is one of the most accomplished distributed systems engineers on Earth. We already exceed the performance benchmarks other platforms aspire to. Our platform is in the best possible place for real-world use, right now. Which, of course, is why people are actually using it . . .

ICOs moving to Stellar

As more developers become aware of us, we anticipate a robust Stellar ICO ecosystem. Mobius and Smartlands were the first companies to move. They launched ICOs on Stellar in late 2017. Please read their announcement posts, as they vouch for the benefits of our platform better than we can (see Mobius’s answer to “Why isn’t Mobius an ERC20 token living on Ethereum?”, in particular). Similarly, Kik and SatoshiPay announced their decisions to move their blockchain infrastructure onto Stellar, citing our superior performance.

On Jan 9, Mobius successfully closed their presale raise of $35M, $10M more than projected. Nine days later they conducted a public offering accepting only lumens; they met their hard cap of $4.5M in two hours.

Partnership Growth

We announced a landmark partnership with IBM on October 16. This deal includes not only IBM but also a network of banks who will use Stellar to move money across borders. IBM is now running 8 Stellar nodes and has set up 12 currency corridors in Australasia and Oceania.

In addition to closing the deal with IBM, we’ve grown our partnership network worldwide.

Region # of New Partnerships Notable Partners
Africa 6 SureRemit, Flutterwave
APAC 8 KlickEx, Novatti
Europe 3 Tempo, SatoshiPay, EXCH.one
Persian Gulf 5 Bahrain Finance Company (BFC)
Americas 4 B&T Corredora, Remitr

Tempo, a France-based money transfer company, deserves a special mention here. In them, we added a critical bridge to the existing fiat world, as they now serve as a EUR anchor. Transaction volume along the corridor we’re most focused on, Europe to Philippines, increased dramatically in 2017 and continues to grow. Volume today is roughly 20x what it was just three months ago.

Stellar's Europe to Philippinees Payment Corridor

Because of the legwork we’ve put in to developing our code and business relationships, we’ve seen large increases in activity across our network. This is perhaps the most gratifying data we have to report: the proof, as it were, that we’re moving our company and technology forward.

Stellar Network Metrics

All this data and more is available at stellar.expert, another recent Stellar Build Challenge winner.

Going forward

We’re well aware of the hype vortex surrounding cryptocurrency. We can’t escape it, but we can try to see through it. We advise you to try, too, because past the hype is the future. The whirlwind will eventually calm, and some set of blockchain technologies will survive to form a critical new layer of the Internet. We strongly believe Stellar will be one of them.

Our technology speaks for itself. We have a strong and growing partnership network. We look forward to sharing our 2018 Roadmap with you in the coming days.

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