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Greg Brockman on July 31, 2014

Since Stripe's earliest days, we've believed the world needs simpler and more open protocols for moving money. We launched our Bitcoin beta four months ago, and we recently published some of our thoughts around cryptocurrencies. Today, we're excited to see the launch of Stellar, a new open-source project and nonprofit organization to which we've provided seed funding.

Stellar is (like Bitcoin) a decentralized payment network; unlike Bitcoin, it supports transactions in arbitrary currencies—you can use dollars, Euros, bitcoins, or anything else. Stellar implements something very close to the idealized "IP layer for money" idea that we described last week. You can find more details (and obtain your first "stellars", the network's native currency) by reading their launch post.

Development is led by Jed McCaleb and Professor David Mazières in collaboration with a small team of others. (The technology is based on the open-source Ripple project, originally created by Jed a few years ago.)

Stripe's role

Stellar's goal is to build a great transport layer for transmitting monetary value. Figuring out how to efficiently move money is something we support very strongly: Stripe spends a lot of effort integrating different banking and finance protocols in various countries (17 at last count). We've always considered it unlikely that these systems would be just as fragmented in twenty years. Bitcoin has already changed the world by drawing attention to the value of open, distributed protocols that enable the transmission and storage of money. Stellar aims to advance this success by providing a way to transact in one's currency of choice, whether that currency is fiat or digital.

We're very bullish on the cryptocurrency space in general, and expect that multiple systems will prosper. When the opportunity arose to help Stellar, we enthusiastically agreed. A couple of months ago, Stripe contributed $3M to help get the project going. In return, we received 2% of the stellars. However, the project is not run by Stripe. We just believe that a system with properties like Stellar's should exist in the world, and we heartily encourage anyone interested to participate in its development. We're going to auction a majority of our stellars to other interested companies, with any net profits being returned to the Stellar Foundation—please get in touch if your company might be interested.

Stellar is highly experimental, but we think it's important to invest effort in basic infrastructure when the opportunity arises. Jed and David are the perfect people to tackle something like this. If they and their team pull it off, Stellar could become a much better substrate for a lot of the world's financial systems.