Stellar is one of the most famous cryptocurrencies when it comes to transaction speed and low transaction fees. Built by Ripple’s co-founder Jed McCaleb, Stellar can transfer money within just 2 seconds and transaction fees worth of cents. And yes, Stellar also shares a lot of similarities with XRP. For example, you need to use tags whenever you want to deposit XLM to a crypto exchange.
Since a while ago, many crypto enthusiasts often label XLM as one of the fastest and cheapest cryptocurrencies to move around. The speed is among the top 5 or top 10, comparable to XRP, NANO, and other super fast cryptos. And while the original vision of Stellar was to “bank the unbanked” but now Stellar is also chasing a wider use case, which is to be used in the cross-border transaction industry.
Fortunately, Jed McCaleb himself is close to the techy people in the banking industry. He was involved in lengthy discussions with Jesse Lund, who was the Vice President at IBM Blockchain at the time. The close relationship between the two has successfully elevated Stellar status from one of the other speedy altcoins to be one of the very serious competitors to the SWIFT technology in the cross-border transaction space.
IBM And Its Vision To Revolutionize Money
IBM has been a long-term believer in blockchain technology. It has been exploring the blockchain tech for a few years already, with different divisions under IBM Blockchain trying to tap into the supply chain industry and others. IBM Blockchain is mostly known for its contribution to Hyperledger, a blockchain network that does not utilize cryptocurrency, and mostly optimized for companies who want to use the blockchain for different use cases.
However, IBM Blockchain also realizes the true potential of cryptocurrency. It believes that the future of money is much bigger than just the traditional banking system or the standard cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. That’s why they were exploring an idea to revolutionize money and cross-border transactions.
And just like Ripple and its RippleNet/xRapid, IBM also created a platform that could easily transfer money from point A to point B within 1-2 seconds. The idea was to use a very fast and almost feeless public blockchain network. From all their considerations, they chose Stellar.
According to IBM representatives, Stellar was chosen because Stellar opens a lot of different opportunity doors for building reliable payment opportunities. Not only that, but Stellar protocol also offers super-fast transactions and cost-efficient transaction fees, which is very important for the banks to consider this technology if they want to replace SWIFT technology in the cross-border transaction space eventually.
IBM Blockchain World Wire – Old Idea, New Competition
Thus, this is how it all began. The long-term relationship between Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) and IBM. They call their own version of RippleNet as “IBM Blockchain World Wire”. Just like how RippleNet works with XRP, you use Stellar blockchain to “transport” money from and to different countries.
The idea is nothing new. The idea to transport fiat from country A to country B by leveraging a cryptocurrency has been explored by a lot of financial institutions for a very long time. A few years ago, it sounded pretty normal to transport USD from the US to Mexico by using Bitcoin, for example.
However, as time has passed, we are no longer in an era where waiting for 40 minutes for a cryptocurrency transfer is considered acceptable. Most people want everything to be fast. Most non-crypto enthusiasts want to be able to send fiat and receive another fiat in another country. They don’t want to wait for a long period of time.
This is where IBM Blockchain World Wire can take advantage of the people’s demand. They can tell the bank A to send fiat currency, and they convert it to a bridge currency in the Stellar blockchain, and then the bridge currency will be converted back to a fiat currency in bank B, where bank A and bank B are located in different countries.
The difference with xRapid/RippleNet is that you can use stablecoins issued on Stellar blockchain as bridge currencies. Here, XLM won’t be the only option, even though it’s still the only native cryptocurrency of the blockchain.
IBM Is A Big Name But It’s Not A Guaranteed Win
The race in creating a better cross-border technology than SWIFT is still very early. Ripple’s RippleNet, IBM Blockchain World Wire, and even SWIFT itself, are all trying to create a better system that can transport money real-time without any fees.
However, there’s no clear winner yet in this space, even though IBM itself has huge connections to the central banks.
The problem with the financial industry is that better tech does not always win. There are also regulatory and lobbying issues that IBM and Stellar Foundation need to tackle if they want to outrace their competitions. Whether they can do it or not, only time will be able to tell the answer.