Lumens (XLM) is the native digital currency supported by the Stellar network, the underlying peer-to-peer (P2P) payment network and development platform that allows for near instantaneous transactions across the world. Together, XLM and Stellar strive to achieve greater financial inclusivity, by connecting entities ranging from merchants and financial institutions to individual users, especially those without access to traditional banking services. The Stellar network also allows for fast, secure, and low-cost conversions across varying units of value (e.g., commodities, fiat currencies, and other digital assets). 

Launched in July 2014, the Stellar network was originally derived partially from the codebase of XRP Ledger, the underlying P2P payment network of the XRP token that is led by Ripple. Though the two payment networks were designed to be globally scalable and accessible, they were built on fundamentally different principles — XRP Ledger sought to provide liquidity solutions for large-scale institutions under the partial oversight of a for-profit company known as Ripple, while Stellar targeted everyone from organizations to individuals with a focus on global financial inclusion via partial oversight from a nonprofit, SDF. 

At inception, SDF was backed by a seed investment from Stripe and has since developed partnerships with Fortune 500 companies like Franklin Templeton and IBM. Given the egalitarian mission, level of industry support, and qualified team of developers at SDF, XLM has risen among many of its counterparts to assume its position as the tenth largest digital asset in the ecosystem by market cap.1

Learn more about the history and defining characteristics of XLM in our report, which is part of the Building Blocks series:

1. Coin Metrics, CoinMarketCap.com, Messari / OnChainFX. As of November 30, 2019.