Stellar Lumens (XLM) in a Nutshell


Stellar is a platform that connects banks, payments systems, and people.

It is built on a completely decentralized consensus platform and is designed to support any type of currency.

Features and Specifications

  • 3-5 second confirmation time
  • Supports thousands of transactions per second
  • Can be used to send or trade any currency, asset, or token.
  • Open-source
  • Uses Stellar Consensus Protocol (SCP) rather than Proof of Work
  • Simple, clean API
  • Multisig and smart contracts
  • Decentralized distributed database
  • 100B XLM created initially
  • 1% fixed annual inflation

How Stellar works

Decentralized network

A decentralized network consists of peers that can run independently of each other. This means that the Stellar network does not depend on any single entity. The idea is to have as many independent servers participate in the Stellar network as possible, so that the network will still run successfully even if some servers fail.


Like a traditional ledger, the Stellar ledger records a list of all the balances and transactions belonging to every single account on the network. A complete copy of the global Stellar ledger is hosted on each server that runs the Stellar software. Any entity can run a Stellar server.

These servers form a decentralized Stellar network, allowing the ledger to be distributed as widely as possible. The servers sync and validate the ledger by a mechanism known as consensus.


Stellar uses the Stellar Consensus Protocol (SCP) rather than Proof of Work. The Stellar Consensus Protocol (SCP) is a protocol that achieves optimal safety against ill-behaved participants. Basically, it aims to be more secure and offer better protection against malicious parties.

The Stellar servers communicate and sync with each other to ensure that transactions are valid and get applied successfully to the global ledger.

For example, if you want to send $5 to a friend on the network, a list of trusted servers will begin a process to agree on the validity of your $5 payment to your friend. The majority of these servers will have to agree that you do in fact own $5 worth of credit on the network before they will mark the transaction as valid.

This entire process of coming to consensus on the Stellar network occurs approximately every 2-5 seconds.

Anchors, trust, and credit

Anchors are simply entities that people trust to hold their deposits and issue credits into the Stellar network for those deposits. They act as a bridge between different currencies and the Stellar network. All money transactions in the Stellar network (except the native digital currency of lumens) occur in the form of credit issued by anchors.

Anchors do two simple things:

  1. They take your deposit and issue the corresponding credit to your account address on the Stellar ledger. You can make a withdrawal by bringing them credit they issued.
  2. You have to trust the anchor to honor your deposits and withdrawals of credit it has issued.

Anchors exist in the pre-stellar world now. For example, to use Paypal, you deposit money in from your bank account. Paypal then gives you credit in your Paypal account. You can now send that Paypal credit to anyone that trusts Paypal (anyone with a Paypal account). Someone that received your Paypal credit can convert it to real money using Paypal by withdrawing it to the bank.

Anchors perform the same function in Stellar. The difference is, all the "Paypals" and other anchors are operating on the same network so they can all transact with each other now – this makes the system way more powerful. People can now easily send and exchange all these different anchor credits with each other.

Distributed Exchange

The Stellar ledger is able to store offers that people have made to buy or sell currencies. Offers are public commitments to exchange one type of credit for another at a pre-determined rate. The ledger becomes a global marketplace for offers.

All these offers form what is called an orderbook. There is an orderbook for each currency/issuer pair. So if you are wanting to exchange Virgin Bank/EUR for bitstamp/BTC you look at that particular order book in the ledger to see what people are buying and selling it for.

This allows people to not only buy and sell currencies in a foreign exchange like manner but also to convert currencies seamlessly during transactions.

Stellar token – Lumens (XLM)

Lumens is the name given to the token of the Stellar network. They were originally called stellars back when the Stellar network launched in 2014, but with the launch of the upgraded network in 2015, the name of the token changed from stellar to lumen.

The Stellar network's built-in currency, the lumen, serves two purposes:

  1. Acts as a small anti-spam role
    • Each transaction has a minor fee—0.00001 lumens—associated with it. This fee prevents users with malicious intentions from flooding the network (otherwise known as a DoS attack). Lumens work as a security token, mitigating DoS attacks that attempt to generate large numbers of transactions or consume large amounts of space in the ledger.
    • Similarly, the Stellar network requires all accounts to hold a minimum balance of 20 lumens. This requirement ensures that accounts are authentic, which helps the network maintain a seamless flow of transactions.
  2. May facilitate multi-currency transactions
    • XLM sometimes facilitate trades between pairs of currencies between which there is not a large direct market, acting as a bridge. This function is possible when there is a liquid market between the lumen and each currency involved.

Lumen Distribution

At the genesis of the Stellar Network, 100 billion lumens (XLM) were created as specified in the protocol. As part of its custodial mandate, the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) is entrusted to oversee that the vast majority, 95 billion, of the lumens are distributed to the world.

  • 50% to be given in small increments to as many people as possible.
  • 25% to be given to other businesses and non-profits to reach people that wouldn't otherwise be able to reach through the Direct Signup program.
  • 20% to be given to bitcoin and XRP holders
  • 5% to be retained by for operations.

The Stellar network has a built-in, fixed inflation mechanism. New lumens are added to the network at the rate of 1% each year. The network also collects a base fee for each operation in a transaction. The funds from base fees are added to the inflation pool.

As a balancing measure for the ecosystem, anyone who holds lumens can vote on where the funds in this pool go. Each week, the protocol distributes these lumens to any account that gets over .05% of the votes from other accounts on the network.

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