Today we are lifting the veil on what we have been working on for the past year here at Celo.
Celo aims to remove the barriers for large-scale adoption of cryptocurrencies as means-of-payment.
Our team has long felt a desire to build products for financial empowerment, stemming from exposure to the shortcomings and challenges of our global financial system and institutions. Some of the innovation behind Celo spans the last 20 years, from researching peer-to-peer reputation systems, to building decentralized identity prototypes using semantic web technologies at MIT. With the rise of blockchain technology, powerful mobile phones, and higher global internet penetration, financial inclusion for everyone everywhere is now possible.
Large populations around the world still do not have access to basic financial tools. The latest financial inclusion report by the World Bank Group shows that 1.7 billion people are still unbanked.
Identity and financial inclusion are tightly linked. Another World Bank study shows that 1.1 billion people do not have an officially recognized form of ID which is often a requirement not just for opening a bank account but for claiming various other essential services, such as healthcare and education.
According to further research, two thirds of the “unbanked” population now have a mobile phone, and smartphone adoption is rising quickly. While mobile money services have contributed to a significant increase in financial inclusion, they remain costly — more than 10% transaction fees in many cases — and fragmented, making cross-border transactions often challenging if not impossible.
The current status quo is slowing down economic aid, such as direct cash transfers, that have proven a very beneficial form of aid.
How Celo Works
Celo aims to remove the barriers for large-scale adoption of cryptocurrencies as means-of-payment. Anyone can participate in the network and earn Celo currency, even with a budget Android smartphone. Using a novel address-based encryption algorithm, Celo makes sending money as easy as sending a text. Celo also uses stable-value tokens pegged to fiat currencies, like the US Dollar, to minimize volatility of payments. The first application launching on the platform is a social payments and money transfer app, aimed at developing markets.
Celo makes sending payments as easy as sending a text, to anyone anywhere. Celo maps phone numbers to wallet addresses using a novel decentralized address-based encryption algorithm. Mobile participants can earn rewards for securing and maintaining the system.
Stable Cryptocurrency, backed by a Reserve
Celo has stable tokens pegged to fiat currencies, like the US Dollar, to minimize volatility. Tokens in circulation are backed by a diversified, overcollateralized, and publicly auditable crypto-asset reserve.
Secure, Proven Platform
Celo’s core technology is based on the same proven distributed ledger technology that powers Bitcoin and Ethereum and allows for the issuance of efficient digital currencies that are secure, immutable, non-counterfeitable, and interoperable.
For more information, you may request our whitepaper.
Towards a Global Celo Community
We are building a global system that allows more people to participate, and we invite you to join the conversation and our community.
Our team of experienced engineers, entrepreneurs, designers, legal and policy experts, thinkers and researchers is building Celo for the long-term. We have been fortunate to be supported by a great group of backers, including many C-level operators, investors, academics, and other experts across a wide range of fields, including finance, legal & regulatory, international payments, security, and cryptography.
Today we are excited to announce our initial funding round of $6.5M by Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, Polychain Capital, Coinbase, Reid Hoffman, Jack Dorsey, Naval Ravikant, Linda Xie, Arianna Simpson, Social Capital, and Lakestar, among others. Learn more about our team and backers here. Also, here’s a link to Robert Hackett’s coverage of our announcement.
To build technology and products that are used and loved by people and solve real-world problems, we need a team with many different perspectives and experiences. Learn more at celo.org/jobs.
Let’s build a monetary system that creates the conditions for prosperity for all.