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The Celo Blog

Celo Dollars: Powerful new digital money in circulation

Celo will unlock the potential of stablecoins

About 2 years since Celo was introduced to the world, and 2 months since Mainnet went live, Celo Dollars (cUSD) are live on the Celo Network! This milestone brings a stable asset to the Celo Platform, a new financial system accessible to anyone with a mobile phone.

The rise of stablecoins

Celo started with a mission of prosperity for all. The resulting system design was the culmination of over 20 years of technical research by Celo’s founders. This new financial system promised many things, including “programmable money” via an easy-to-use stablecoin that could be accessible via a simple mobile phone.

While the cLabs team was in the early stages of building this new financial system, the first wave of stablecoins emerged in 2018 with exciting promises of being used across the globe to improve financial access. In practice, those initial stablecoins were primarily used by institutions to shield traders from the wild volatility of early crypto markets and for arbitrage. For users, long block times, gas fees paid in a different currency, and the inability to easily use stablecoins on a mobile phone were just a few of the adoption challenges.

The recent global crisis brought on by COVID-19 has the world demanding money that works better, especially as governments try to deliver stimulus money quickly to large populations that desperately need it. At the same time, demand for stablecoins has increased with the market cap of all stablecoins swelling from $5 billion at the start of the year to above $10 billion in June. Even with this growth, there are still limitations that prevent its reach beyond the crypto community. That is, until now.

Celo Dollars positioned to unlock the true potential of stablecoins

The launch of Celo Dollars provides a mobile-friendly form of digital money that can be used by the 6 billion smartphone users around the world. Use cases include the $87 billion digital remittance market, $248 billion gig economy, $1.4 trillion mobile point-of-sale market, and $34.billion peer-to-peer lending market. The Celo Foundation has seen a tremendous response from the 90 mission-aligned organizations that create the Alliance for Prosperity, with members committing to address the massive opportunity of these use cases, including (but not limited to): powering mobile and online work, enabling faster and affordable remittances, reducing the operational complexities of delivering humanitarian aid, facilitating payments, and enabling microlending. The combined reach of these organizations building on Celo is over 400 million people, harnessing the power of blockchain technology to deliver modern-day and mobile-friendly financial solutions to their audiences worldwide.

As you’ll see below, entrepreneurs, developers, and organizations are already starting to tap into these markets using Celo to share value in faster, cheaper, and more transparent ways. With Celo, stablecoins become digital money that you can easily use on your phone.

The journey has included many milestones and wouldn’t be possible without the validator community securing and operating the network, Alliance members integrating with Celo, builders imagining new possibilities on the Celo Platform, and CELO purchasers and stakers believing in the promise.

Mosaic image of the Celo community that helped launch Mainnet and bring Celo Dollars into circulation. Thanks to each and every one of you.

Accept Celo Dollars easily

COVID-19 has highlighted the urgent need for a stable, digital means of payment to distribute money faster, as well as touchless forms of payment. With payments solutions built on top of the Celo Platform, retailers can accept Celo Dollars digitally, both online and in-person, while also avoiding high credit card processing fees. MugglePay is one of the initial solutions that empowers over 2400 small businesses and online merchants to modernize their payment systems and easily accept crypto assets, including cUSD.

After losing business on declining international cards, Lee and Change decided to modernize their business and accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment. Their sales are expected to exceed $1M this year.

Borrow Celo Dollars instantly

Many individuals don’t have a way of establishing assets or credit history on which to receive loans. With Celo, companies like Kotani Pay can reimagine the possibilities of financing by enabling anyone with even a basic feature phone (58% of the market in Africa) to access Celo Dollars to save, send peer-to-peer payments, and even obtain loans.

Akinyi, a self-employed vegetable vendor in Nairobi, uses Celo Dollars through USSD to pay for supplies and take out microloans for her small business.

Share Celo Dollars directly

Celo allows anyone with a mobile phone to instantly send and receive money locally and internationally without the burden of high transaction fees. With Celo, users can conveniently share Celo Dollars directly on their mobile phones for as little as $0.01 to virtually anyone around the world.

Air Protocol enables anyone anywhere to send and receive crypto without the use of a traditional bank account. Their first product, Syklo, is focused on modernizing remittances by using their mobile app to send cUSD easily among family and friends.

Air Protocol’s app Syklo featuring Celo Dollars

How can I learn more?

If you want to learn more about how Celo is powering solutions for individuals and communities around the world, join Celo’s first community event, Kuneco on July 6, 12–1pm PDT as part of Unitize 2020. During this event, you’ll get a closer look at projects being built on Celo, see a preview of the Celo technical roadmap, and hear some exciting ecosystem announcements.

We will share updates as cUSD is available on exchanges and in wallets via Twitter and the Celo newsletter.

By modernizing money, the Celo community can build a more useful, more resilient, more fully-featured and more accessible financial system for all.

What could you build for your community with Celo Dollars? Join the conversation

Celo is a carbon-negative, L1 protocol with a rich ecosystem of global partners building Web3, mobile-first applications to create a more accessible and inclusive global financial system. Visit to learn more about the Celo community, contributors, and technology.

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