Kraken has launched with bitcoin-stellar trading. Stellars are the currency for the new Stellar decentralized payment network. (The name of the currency was later changed to lumens.) Like Bitcoin, Stellar runs on a decentralized protocol for confirming transactions. But Stellar transactions are confirmed by a different consensus algorithm that allows transactions to be confirmed almost instantly.
Another difference is that Stellar has support for a distributed exchange network built into the protocol. Through the network, a user could create a transaction that converts dollars to stellars, then stellars to euros. Effectively, the user sends dollars and the recipient gets euros, thus bundling payment and currency exchange into one transaction.
If all this sounds a lot like Ripple, it is. But there are important differences. Unlike Ripple, Stellar is being developed by a nonprofit organization, the Stellar Development Foundation (and the foundation boasts some impressive members). Also, 95% of stellars are being given away for free (compared to 50% for Ripple). This highly equitable distribution plan may help Stellar to gain traction with a large user base.
Stellar is just getting started, but it’s off to a good start. According to coinmarketcap.com, Stellar’s market cap is already in the top 20, with a valuation around $2.5 million.
For more information on Stellar, see the following sources.