Whether it was the jam-packed agenda or running up-and-down five stories (my watch actually asked if I were exercising) or meeting old and making new friends, Meridian 2023 was a pure adrenaline rush.
Last week, the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) and the Stellar ecosystem gathered in Spain for the annual Stellar conference. The theme of the event, "Unlocking Human Potential," set the stage for a series of electrifying talks and announcements. Developers, founders, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and other leaders from decentralized and traditional finance all convened to discuss unlocking access in innovative ways through blockchain technology. Attendees left the conference eager to empower people to meet their potential in real, tangible ways.
ICYMI (in this case, a ton), I have thoroughly curated some of our favorite moments from last week.
Main stage highlights
UN Goodwill Ambassador and actor Idris Elba joined SDF CEO Denelle Dixon in an electrifying conversation on the Mundo Meridian Stage. Idris spoke about how his success has included bringing others along with him, how he focuses on empowerment and investment to create new opportunities in emerging markets, and why he sees the opportunities to unlock human potential by creating greater access to financial services through technology.
“One of the goals I’ve always focused on is figuring out how to unlock creative potential for young creatives, so they can tell better stories and unlock financial access,” said Idris. “Talent is everywhere, but opportunities are not. One of the goals I’ve always focused on is figuring out how to unlock creative potential for young creatives, so they can tell better stories and unlock financial access.”
Last June, MoneyGram brought MoneyGram Access™ to the Stellar network, providing millions of people access to cash-to-crypto on and off-ramps and bridging the physical to digital. Early next year, they’re fortifying those bridges and debuting their own non-custodial wallet on the Stellar network while leveraging Circle’s USDC stablecoin.
What does this mean for their consumers? Consumers will be able to visit a MoneyGram location and purchase USDC with cash via the MoneyGram wallet, or cash out the USDC held in the wallet for local currency. For those living in countries with volatile currencies, they’ll be able to hold USDC in their wallets and cash-out when needed.
In a major development, Circle’s EURC stablecoin is now live on the Stellar network. As a digital representation of one of the world's most traded currencies. EURC on the Stellar network opens up numerous possibilities for builders to deliver real-world utility, enabling use cases including remittances, real-time payments, fiat, crypto on and off-ramps, and foreign exchange.
In fact, EURC is being used right now by LATAM-based company Ripio! Their user base of over 7.7 million can now access EURC on the Stellar network for a variety of use cases, including P2P and B2C payments on the Ripio wallet and web app.
Financial inclusion is a journey that starts with access to financial services. We know blockchain is a solution that helps unlock that first step — and now we have new research that helps quantify its impact.
Developed by PwC US with our input, this whitepaper and framework, titled “Enhancing the social handprint of financial service providers: Using blockchain to foster financial inclusion,” offers important insights into how to measure the impact of digital financial services on increasing financial access and inclusion. Additionally, it digs into some of the blockchain-based solutions making a difference today – with data points to prove it!
Tinker, mess, break, and build
Meridian 2023 had plenty for devs to unpack as well, with attendees flooding the Plaza Soroban and Barrio Blockchain stages, all eager to hear about the latest projects being built in the ecosystem. From discussions on oracles, Proof-of-Agreement, and DAOs to staging live demos, there was plenty for builders to sink their teeth into… which brings us to our next point.
Your Stellar toolkit just got a whole lot bigger with all these new features, tools, and upgrades we’re covering below! So start tinkering, messing with, breaking, and building. The Stellar network and ecosystem are your oyster.
Tools and solutions leveraging the Stellar network received significant upgrades. The Anchor Platform, designed to simplify integration to the Stellar network, added a second 'standard' for on and off-ramping. This enhancement makes it easier for businesses to connect to the Stellar blockchain and offer their services through various digital wallets.
The Stellar Asset Sandbox, a testing ground for exploring asset tokenization on the Stellar network, also received new features courtesy of Cheesecake Labs. These include role-based access control, expanded token management, treasury management, and custodial solutions. It will also support Soroban, enabling users to test DeFi applications powered by smart contracts on the Soroban testnet.
The Stellar Disbursement Platform (SDP) welcomed its first third-party host, Zodia Custody. Third-party hosts enable organizations that don’t want to support the technical requirements of the SDP to use the Platform to quickly send bulk disbursements to thousands of recipients at once. We at SDF know that one of the great benefits of open-source technology like the SDP is that you don’t need anyone’s permission to use and improve it!
In addition to Zodia becoming the first third-party host of the SDP, two new wallets – Beans and Boss Money – are now fully integrated into the SDP with the ability to support a variety of use cases for enterprises and consumers including aid disbursements, saving and investing, payments to suppliers and workers, family and friends and more.
Meridian 2023 brought exciting updates to the Stellar wallet ecosystem. Fintech companies can now integrate the Wallet SDK to build network-enabled wallets without requiring in-depth blockchain expertise.
Copper, an institutional grade custody provider, introduced custodial support for assets like XLM and USDC on the Stellar network.
IDT announced the launch of elroy, a consumer digital wallet serving corridors between the US and Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia. This expansion onto Stellar network rails aims to provide fee-free services to users in these regions.
In his keynote, VP of Product Tomer Weller announced a longterm partnership between the Stellar Development Foundation and Certora, a global security company that has built a unique formal verification tool including a continuous integration service. Any new code you push will reliably comply with your specification.
Soroban is also the first WASM runtime to be supported by Certora, which in the past has primarily supported EVM.
Meridian would not be Meridian unless it were fun, and Meridian 2023 brought it in spades. We’re talking flamenco dancers, an evening gala in the jaw-dropping Casino de Madrid, and a man carving jamón so delicately that it can only be described as utter zen. It was magic at Meridian 2023, but don’t take my word for it. Scroll through and see for yourself!
What a week
And with that, we bid Madrid and Meridian 2023 ¡adiós! See you next year! 👋