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On the Stellar Train!

Sun 31 January 2016 | tags: stellar, altcoin, crytocurrency, open-source, project, planet, -- (permalink)

Two days ago, I attended Stellar.org's fireside chat at Idea Hub in Lagos. It was an enlightening event; one that may well be my gateway into the world of open source in the year.

No doubt this will present a somewhat steep learning curve knowing that my background in finance (and FinTech) is not much to write home about. The experience and payoffs will of course be worth the while and I am expecting more developers to join the train as the platform is still very welcoming at this point.

Stellar is a fairly new financial technology service that aims to be the de facto way in which we move money around.

From Stellar's FAQ page,

"Stellar is a decentralized protocol you can use to send and receive money in any pair of currencies. So for example, the protocol supports sending money in dollars and having it arrive in pesos."

I particularly like the analogy used here by the Executive Director of Stellar, Joyce Kim,

"The Stellar platform functions a lot like email whose underlying protocol is SMTP. Before SMTP, you could only email people that were in the same company, network or ISP as you"

She says it would be a lot like being able to send mails across different mail providers.

Most of the details of the workings of Stellar are still very unclear to me, but a few things I've been able to make sense of include:

  • Stellar operates on a decentralized network of servers

  • Stellar maintains an open digital ledger of transactions. This data is synchronized on all servers.

  • Financial institutions subscribed to the Stellar service (called gateways, and to act as "trust" houses) can offer Stellar credits.

  • Stellar credits are used to resolve currency pairing issues.

  • A Consensus is how Stellar verifies the credibility of a transaction before allowing it to pull through.

Stellar.org provides an explain page to describe these concepts. However, I find this article very explanatory.

I have joined Stellar's public Slack team. And so far, I've been received with warm arms. I encourage many budding programmers lookig to get their feet wet with open source projects to join this platform and make some contributions. The mantra for me is "even if it fails..." I think this says enough already.

At the moment, the project I'm looking to contribute to is the Python library for interfacing with the Stellar core.

This project is still in beta form and could readily use some help. It was suggested to me by Scott Fleckenstein (@nullstyle), the first Engineer at Stellar. At the event, Scott tried to work us through the technical nitty-gritties: innerworkings, stack and how-to-get-started with contributing to the Stellar project.

These are just some of the things I have been able to wrap my mind around thus far. I am optimistic that once I tie myself in the loop of working on the code and working with the leads I get from time to time, it would all clear out in due course.

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