Stellar, the long-secret digital currency project helmed by industry entrepreneur Jed McCaleb, has officially launched.
McCaleb is the original founder of defunct Japanese bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox and a co-founder of digital currency-focused payment network Ripple Labs.
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.
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.
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.
This story was co-authored by Pete Rizzo.
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