I'm starting to more closely follow developments over at Stellar. The platform forked from Ripple a few years ago, and while the former has made hard connections to a bunch of traditional banks (Santander, UBS, American Express are all partners), the latter is trying to create a genuine platform that can be used to underpin a variety of real services that allow people to quickly move funds in a decentralized way, including across borders.
As a result, one of its areas of interest is helping to support the underbanked. That absolutely piques my interest: if services can be built to lift people out of poverty in a non-predatory way (that last part is key), it's a genuine good for the world. LALA, which helps migrants send funds back to their unbanked families, is one such service that just announced it'll be using the platform.
Open Garden is another: a way for people to share internet connections with each other. You share your internet via your phone's wifi hotspot, and earn value that can in turn be traded to use someone else's bandwidth while you're on the move. Theoretically, this should prevent people from taking without also contributing to the network.
A lot has been made of its partnerships with IBM and Deloitte; Stripe is also on the list - and has been since the beginning - which implies some interesting payment integration possibilities in the future. Of course, it might also just be watching the market.
But what's most exciting to me is the advisory board: the founders of WordPress and Stripe are both represented, as is the Director of the Apache Software Foundation, and Sam Altman from Y Combinator. That's a solid combination of platform builders, openness experts, and startup supporters.
I do have a small number of Lumens (840 at the time of writing; my only cryptocurrency holding), because I decided I wanted to learn more about the space. I'm very turned off about speculative cryptocurrency investments; it's just not something that's interesting to me, in the same way that hedge fund trading is not in any way my bag. What I've always cared about is open platforms that have a positive societal impact, and I think that's what Stellar has the potential to be. Once the Wall-Street-like crypto buzz has died down, these are the things that will matter.