Our vision for 2022 builds directly on what we learned in 2021, a year that demonstrated irrefutably that the Stellar network is built for its purpose, clarified our strengths, and provided the direction for where we need to go next.
Our path forward must include a number of components. It must include future capabilities focused on trust-minimized innovation as a cornerstone of our speed-to-innovation and an inspiration to drive innovation by a diverse set of outside builders. It must include a growing anchor network that can further develop and encourage utility and use cases on Stellar that keeps and brings assets on the network, in support of our traditional focus on payments. It must include increased scalability to drive use case development and offer more ways to participate in the ecosystem. And it must include an unrelenting focus on interoperability and inclusion, the components that speak to our most strategic values, ring-fence the network’s strengths, challenge us to continual innovation, and propel us to achieve our mission to create equitable access to the global financial system.
This roadmap takes us in one direction: making Stellar the network for inclusion and interoperability between traditional and modern financial rails. These building blocks will help us create a more engaged, differentiated ecosystem, take Stellar innovation to new heights, and increase Stellar’s competitive advantage by exploiting its current strengths while also developing new ones. At the end of 2022, we will be positioned as not just an original innovator in blockchain, but a leading-edge innovator still focused on the same mission with the same sense of integrity.
The following strategy explains in greater detail what each block seeks to accomplish in 2022 and the breadth of work from across the Stellar Development Foundation we’ll need to do to achieve it.
Stellar is a rich and robust network built with interoperability and speed at its core. However, in order to ensure that it remains competitive, we must work with the ecosystem to strengthen the network by increasing the scalability through SPEEDEX and other core optimizations. This will allow further innovation with use cases that require high transaction volumes and more throughput as measured in transactions per second. Through innovation, Stellar must handle even higher volume, and at levels (and fees) consistent with payment use cases to ensure Stellar remains a force for providing equitable access to the global financial system.
While scalability is in large part about improving upon the existing network, innovation is about challenging ourselves to adapt to new possibilities and see the opportunities they bring to extend Stellar. With this frame of mind, we will extend network capabilities through native implementation, bridging, and partnerships.
The most immediate innovation for us in this category is smart contracts. In order to encourage engagement, innovation and utility on Stellar, we will research and shepherd the development of the code and create community engagement around a smart contract implementation. The goal is to have Stellar remain one of the most accessible networks for developers so that they can deliver high quality and safe applications to their users, while allowing it to adapt to respond to the competitive landscape in the blockchain space.
Importantly, we will continue to build upon the core network values: safe and equitable access to asset issuance and payments. We will also continue to focus on interoperability with the traditional financial system by deepening anchor capabilities, and by developing for wallets, exchanges, CBDCs, and bank-issued assets.
We need to research ecosystem needs and competitive demands so we can build, publish, and promote a long-term roadmap for the future of Stellar. Our goal is to understand the current opportunities and to outline a plan to help Stellar progress without losing its identity. Stellar must also be responsive and agile so developers see the benefits of an open network that can evolve with innovation.
To do that, we need to establish a stronger feedback loop that starts with growing participation on our channels and opening avenues to proactively gather feedback that ultimately makes it easier and more exciting to contribute to the Stellar codebase and standards.
The future of Stellar roadmap will help our efforts to attract new participants to the ecosystem particularly on and off ramps domestically and internationally that are critical to enabling financial access. We will focus on select application verticals to understand how these on and off ramps can work and what opportunities exist for improvement in addition to public sector adoption of CBDCs and institutional adoption of asset issuance. As our partner ecosystem grows, we need to ensure new and existing participants have a clear sense of ownership and commitment to Stellar to build and retain their loyalty.
To empower the ecosystem, we will facilitate intra-ecosystem engagement and improve self-serve resources. The goal is to create a methodical, high-leverage funnel for onboarding and fostering ecosystem developers so that anyone anywhere in the world can start building on Stellar on their own, and continue to grow and progress as they gain more knowledge and experience.
Greater participation will also come from making the building experience simple, fast, and affordable through a combination of product, documentation, and process. This will accelerate integrations for developers, allowing them to build new application types, such as wallets with diverse features, that will bring liquidity and growth to Stellar and create the opportunity to drive more value and utility.
But participation isn’t limited to those who work directly to develop the technology; it requires participation from stakeholders who have influence over its future as well. As such, we will engage and create an opinionated voice with policymakers and regulators on a global basis to activate our audiences and increase connections to Stellar. We will specifically focus on ensuring a regulatory framework that allows for innovation as nations embrace blockchain technology and grapple with balancing the need to allow innovators to harness its power to solve real-world problems with the need to protect the public and financial systems from potential risk.
More participation requires increasing visibility and engagement with our existing audience, especially developers, while also reaching new ones. By being more comprehensive in sharing the most compelling aspects of Stellar’s capabilities, we will both provide fodder for our community to share, as well as open the door to new participants to see Stellar as a vibrant, forward-leaning blockchain. We will make Stellar visible where the fintech and blockchain communities are so that they know who we are, what we do, and how to engage with us.
Finally, ecosystem companies are the best ambassadors for highlighting ‘why Stellar’ and the myriad opportunities and benefits the network presents. We will do more to have those who have built on Stellar, from start-ups to enterprises, integrated into and featured within all aspects of our marketing.
Between our Enterprise Fund and Matching Fund, we’ve generated more interest in building on the network and brought new talented teams to the ecosystem. We want to continue this momentum in 2022, using these investment programs (as well as our recently announced debt fund) to bring more builders to Stellar and develop stronger relationships with investors, who direct future investments to Stellar. Recognizing the power of tailored programs like the Matching Fund in particular, we will design programs with specific regions in mind and complement them with regionally-focused opportunities like hackathons, boot camps, and incubators.
Our hope is that this will strengthen Stellar, while at the same time increase the diversity of the businesses and developers building on our network, which also aligns to the final building block for 2022.
We already know that obstacles to inclusion are often regional. In order to optimize our continued efforts to reach those who will benefit most from blockchain technology and the Stellar network, we will prioritize gaining insights at the local level, through local engagement and working with developers, companies, legal and policy advisors, academics, think tanks, and other ambassadors. Only through a thorough, evidence-based understanding of the challenges in each region will we be able to target our support for solutions to those that have the best chance of addressing local needs.
And if we take a step back, financial inclusion must begin with financial literacy. Since financial education is most effective when it is conveyed in context, we will support research and development to gather data on financial education content that follows the user’s experience. Data will be shared with the ecosystem to encourage developers to incorporate an education-by-design approach to their products to promote inclusion.
Our efforts towards furthering inclusion will not be limited to the audience for whom solutions are being built on Stellar; we are committed to diversifying the cohort of founders and developers receiving technical, financial, or marketing support. To achieve this, we will develop criteria for how we execute against our mandate that prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion, sustainability, compliance, and social responsibility.
For our work at the country level, we will continue to focus on network effects, in the markets that are best suited to create expansion for existing network participants: Mexico, Brazil, Kenya, Ukraine, the United States, and Canada. We will also explore development in countries rich in opportunities where the regulatory environments are open or shifting. We will ensure we have advisors in areas where we have had a limited footprint to help guide our efforts and to work with local counsel to understand the regulatory landscape. We will also opportunistically engage research firms to support an understanding of the dynamics of each of these regions.