The cryptocurrency thrill ride can be exciting to watch. Bitcoin’s peaks and valleys, cryptocurrencies that make a splash and then fizzle out, the rise and fall of prices based on speculation — they all paint a picture of a highly volatile environment. But if we walk away from the roller coaster and look at the engineering behind it, the real opportunity in this space is having interoperable digital currencies that anyone can use to trade real value quickly, easily and efficiently.
Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) Senior Director, Ecosystem Lisa Nestor told PYMNTS in a recent conversation that the digital asset space will be large — and will be home to a myriad of players. Bitcoin, stablecoins, Dogecoin and others can all exist in a single interoperable network to elevate all forms of value and create an inclusive financial system.
This system of digital assets will only include more potential users, enabling connections with stablecoins like USDC to allow access to traditional fiat currency in new and exciting ways. “As we work with partners all over the world, we continue to see a huge demand for access to dollars,” said Nestor. “We hear from our partners around the world that the ability to save, access and transact seamlessly across borders, with dollars, is something that draws a lot of interest and demand.”
The Stellar Development Foundation and Circle announced the go-live of USDC, the world’s fastest-growing USD stablecoin, on the Stellar network in February 2021. Since then, the integration of Stably’s on/off ramps and the launch of Wyre’s new savings API has set the stage for FinTechs to offer an onramp to USDC — as well as savings in USDC, typically at over five times the rate of earnings compared to traditional U.S. dollar accounts — on a truly interoperable network.
USDC is not exactly new to the market, as it first came into circulation in 2018. But it’s not always easy to use, Nestor said, noting that within the last few weeks, she’s seen screenshots of USDC transactions on Ethereum that carried $1,000 worth of fees. Four-digit transaction fees essentially make stablecoin transactions a non-starter for many — hence Stellar’s goal of bringing USDC to its ecosystem to make it actually useful for those who want to access it.
The central value proposition of Stellar’s USDC, she noted, is that it can offer global remittance companies a way to nearly instantly (within three to four minutes) move funds at a cost that can be measured in a fraction of a cent.
“In the payments use case, this matters, as remittances are typically smaller transactions, so thousand-dollar fees just aren’t feasible. But exchanges and traders need to be able to move money around, and what we’ve heard from the broader market is how much demand there is for faster and cheaper access to USDC that can provide utility around payments, moving money around the world and settling transactions,” Nestor said.
Expanding that access, she noted, is an act of collaboration with firms like BitGo, Finclusive and Wyre – to not only bring USDC to the Stellar network, but to also develop the sustainable use cases that will make it easier to use, move and even save virtual U.S. dollars in ways that were previously unavailable.
These collaborations are exciting to SDF, because they enable the single thing the foundation aims to provide: access. The goal remains the same: to leverage Stellar’s infrastructure and digital assets in a way that makes them both accessible and easy to use for people and businesses all over the world.
The crypto wave is coming — pushed not by speculators, but by regular people and firms worldwide looking for a faster, cheaper and more efficient solution for moving money between anyone, anywhere.
Many aspects of the development of this new technology will perhaps look a bit strange or silly when we look back at them, Nestor noted. The fact that it once cost $1,000 to make a stablecoin transfer is likely to top that list. But what will stick around longer than the “sillier stuff” is the new opportunity being opened worldwide for those who want to explore it.
“If I were to look at the last months in particular, the explosion of interest in the ability to leverage digital assets and capital is a really exciting trend,” she said. “Ultimately, we’re seeing that these use cases are sustainable, and Stellar’s established network is enabling businesses and developers to leverage USDC in new and meaningful ways.”