Stellar, a nonprofit aimed at helping those with little economic opportunity get access to banking resources at a low cost, is gaining ground internationally. The organization has linked up with four new financial institutions, including one of India's largest banks. Already Stellar has done quite a bit to expand within Africa, Asia, and Europe, but its deal with bank ICICI marks its first major foray into India.
The new deal will allow these institutions to build low-cost services (like loans, remittances, insurance, and savings accounts) on Stellar's platform. By keeping the fees cheap, Stellar is hoping to draw in people who ordinarily can't afford to put their money in a bank. Allowing people to send money to far-flung family members has also been a particular focus for the organization since it launched in 2014. Stellar's network also settles money transactions in real time—technology that's not an industry-wide standard yet. Remittances are a booming market, with everyone from PayPal to new players like TransferWise trying to offer alternatives to traditional money-wire services like Western Union. So far, Stellar has nailed down 30 such partnerships internationally. Partners range in size from a small European blockchain startup to Barclays. The larger the network, the more valuable it becomes to those who need to send money all over the world. RR