Stellar, the long-secret digital currency project helmed by industry entrepreneur Jed McCaleb, has officially launched.
The new platform is a decentralized gateway for digital currency to fiat currency transfers, The Wall Street Journal reports. Like Ripple and bitcoin, Stellar will act as a public transaction authenticator and feature its own in-house digital currency called 'stellar'.
McCaleb's announcement follows months of rumors about the project, which first surfaced in February. At the time, a mysterious website was launched to enlist developers, alpha testers and designers, and now redirects to the official Stellar site.
In a statement, the Stellar Development Foundation's Executive Director Joyce Kim suggested that Stellar will act as a bridge between fiat and digital currencies – a key requirement if the latter are to be adopted by mainstream users.
“This is probably the best way to bring the best of both worlds together."
According to WSJ, Stellar will act as a transaction gateway, enabling usability in both fiat and digital currencies.
While it's not clear what, if any, infrastructure is already in place, Stellar, like Ripple, will allow cross-border transactions that use digital currency as a technological 'middleman' for fiat transfers.
Notably, the platform's in-house currency, stellar, will be distributed to users for free. Supply is capped at 100 billion units, with roughly 95% of this amount being given away.
Stellar also sports a diverse leadership and advisory team. Noted board members include former Square Chief Operating Officer Keith Rabois and Stripe CEO Patrick Collison. Dogecoin co-founder Jackson Palmer and AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant will also serve as advisors for the project.
Break from Ripple continues
The launch of Stellar cuts McCaleb's remaining ties with the Ripple project.
In May, McCaleb announced his intention to sell his holdings of XRP, the native currency of the network. His statements, posted to the XRP Talk forum, caused a rapid XRP sell-off, with the value of the currency declining 40% following the news.
Despite his post, however, McCaleb has not yet sold the XRP, which he was awarded when he joined the company. When Ripple set aside 20 billion XRP for distribution amongst its founders, a 9 billion slice was awarded to McCaleb.
McCaleb was the original founder of OpenCoin, developing its protocol and later serving as its CEO. The company later changed its name to Ripple following the addition of current CEO Chris Larsen. In interviews, McCaleb described OpenCoin as an attempt to build a bitcoin network that did not rely on mining to process transactions.
Stellar Image via Shutterstock
This story was co-authored by Pete Rizzo.