Crypto Payments Specialist Stellar Bridges Fiat and Stablecoins to Polkadot

The Spacewalk bridge built by recent parachain winner Pendulum is focused on connecting DeFi to forex markets.

AccessTimeIconMar 13, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:10 a.m. UTC

Cryptocurrency payments specialist Stellar is linking to Polkadot and its sister network Kusama via the newly built Spacewalk bridge, a move that will connect the two blockchain ecosystems with Stellar’s fiat on-ramps around the world.

The bridge, built by recent Polkadot parachain auction winner Pendulum, aims to connect decentralized finance (DeFi) applications with foreign exchange (forex) markets, especially in emerging markets where, since it was founded in 2014, Stellar has built up a footprint and partnered with the likes of cross-border payments company MoneyGram.

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  • While crypto’s banking rails in the U.S. have largely been dismantled, seasoned firms like Stellar and others are continuing to build out critical infrastructure to do the job elsewhere.

    The Spacewalk bridge is now live on Polkadot’s so-called canary network, Kusama, and the Polkadot version will be open within one or two week’s time, according to Pendulum co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Torsten Stüber.

    Pendulum’s mission is to combine traditional finance with DeFi, said Stüber, who is also CTO at SatoshiPay, a crypto micropayments firm that has a long history of building on top of Stellar. The focus is firmly on stablecoins or fiat tokens, Stüber added, and not necessarily Lumens, the native cryptocurrency of the Stellar network.

    “Stellar has a great implementation of stablecoins, as well as on-ramps and off-ramps in different countries for different kinds of fiat currencies,” Stüber said in an interview with CoinDesk. “I don’t think you’ll find any other network that has so many different fiat currencies tokenized on the platform.”

    USDC will be the main stablecoin flowing across the Spacewalk bridge, and it’s also the token Stellar integrated with MoneyGram that the firms began rolling out last year.

    There will also be an array of regional currency stablecoins available, said Tomer Weller, vice president, product at Stellar Development Foundation. This includes tokenized Argentinian pesos and Brazilian reals, as well as a Kenyan shilling, some other African stablecoins and a couple of euro-based ones, Weller said.

    “Basically every MoneyGram agent in the world is an access point to the Stellar network,” said Weller in an interview. “So users can off-ramp their Stellar assets to actual cash in more than 300,000 locations around the world. They can also access and on-ramp their cash to crypto, and specifically stablecoins, in a smaller subset of that, and we’re slowly rolling that out to more and more countries.”


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    Ian Allison

    Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.