You could think of the decentralized payments platform Stellar as the benevolent relative of cryptocurrency  Ripple.

Built on top of the Ripple protocol, Stellar uses lumens -- or XLM -- as its protocol token.

Lumens currently rank 12th among all cryptoassets, with a market cap just over $1.16 billion. The project was founded in 2014 by Jed McCaleb, who was also behind the creation of Ripple in 2013 and the notorious Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, in 2010.

Stellar has focused on financial inclusion through blockchain technology, facilitating cross-border payments with its various partnerships and integrations. After first distributing 100 billion XLM tokens over several years, new XLM are minted at 1% per year.

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Stellar Performance: 2 Billion Bonus

XLM's Fundamental Crypto Asset Score (FCAS) climbed 0.63% over the last 2 weeks. Developer Behavior ascended 2-points (0.22%) along with a 10-point (1.53%) spike in User Activity. Market Maturity declined 2-points (-0.3%). Price is down -16.50% over the same time period.

On Monday, the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) revealed that it would be airdropping two billion XLM -- which is worth more than $117 million at the time of this writing -- to users of the messaging app, Keybase. Airdrops are a way in which crypto projects distribute assets, generally for free, to a target group of addresses based on predefined criteria. Stellar previously conducted a large-scale airdrop to a leading provider of cryptocurrency wallets, Blockchain, in late 2018. Monday's announcement has been positioned as a way to drive Keybase user growth (who adopted Stellar in May 2019), as well as to expand utilization of XLM.

Our Hot Take

The Keybase airdrop is an interesting development from a project who has been historically loose with the distribution of its assets. In addition to the Blockchain airdrop, Stellar partnered with Coinbase earlier this year to distribute a billion XLM through the Coinbase Earn platform. This means that while Stellar has previously invested heavily in financially oriented airdrop and giveaway strategies, this is a significant departure and expansion of its use-case focus.

Furthermore, this move to deepen integration and use on a messaging platform is a clear attempt to both out-maneuver existing projects such as Kin -- who have successfully demonstrated the viability of crypto micropayments in messaging platforms -- as well as to stay ahead of emerging projects like Telegram Open Network (TON), which launches Oct. 31 and will look to corner the market for this viable crypto use case.

It has also been suggested that the airdrop was initiated partly in reaction to regulatory uncertainty, as XLM and its cousin currency, Ripple's XRP, have not been cleared of "security" designations. Expanding use cases, driving new users, and improving regulatory positioning, are by no means mutually exclusive, and it would appear Stellar is full-steam ahead on all fronts.