Digital currencies had their start in 1981 with a paper authored by David Chaum. The paper, Untraceable Electronic Mail, Return Addresses, and Digital Pseudonyms set the foundation for developing digital currencies. In 1990, DigiCash debuted and introduced Chaumian digital cash to mankind. It lasted 8 years.
In 1996 e-gold, a gold-backed Digital Currency appeared. The Digital Monetary Trust opened in 2001. In addition to negotiating in encrypted bearer certificates, the trust supported a digital economy which included a stock market and futures exchange. By 2005 transfers using e-gold exceeded $1 billion annually.
Other gold-backed digital currencies include GoldMoney (2001) and Pecunix (2002).
S. Nakamoto published a paper on Bitcoin in 2008 where he defined it as "peer to peer electronic cash". The bitcoin blockchain became part of the internet in 2009. By 2012 bitcoin gained the attention of central banks and by 2013 it was attracting major investors.
The most recent digital currency arriving at the digital marketplace is Stellar. The creators of Stellar produced a protocol that lets clients exchange any currency for another in a single transaction.
What features differentiate the stellar from other digital currencies?
A non-profit entity outside of the control of any one company, directs Stellar organization. The group made their software cost-free and open source. In addition, it is distributing 95% of the currency that its system generates without charge.
Attracting more women into the network is part of the Stellar goal to make the financial system more inclusive. Stellar also developed an Increased Access program which concentrates on emerging markets. Distributing stellars to these consumers is a way of educating them in the process and exponentially gaining a diverse, widespread group of new users.
Early next year, existing bitcoin owners will also get 19% of the initial distribution on a pro-rata basis.
After the first distribution, stellar coins will be added weekly at a rate of 1% per year. Existing account holders will vote in new account holders who will receive currency. Votes are allotted based on the number of stellars the existing account holder owns. Each week's allocation will go to the 50 top vote-getters.
The founders of the organization are excited to see what follows. Holders may end up creating new companies that procure votes in exchange for free services; others may join to split profits. Stellar currency may be used to distribute money to cash strapped charities situated around the world.
The creators of the Stellar digital currency envision their system as a large social experiment benefiting all. They want inter-operable networks enabling uncomplicated transfer of any currency into any other currency.