Celo is an open-source platform that aims to empower anyone with a smartphone to get complete access to the full range of financial services no matter where a smartphone owner lives. The focus on mobile devices is explained by the fact that the number of smartphone users grows faster than the number of blockchain users. Celo was created in August 2017, and its mainnet was officially launched on May 19, 2020.
The project name comes from Esperanto and means “purpose.” The team is sure that their project has absorbed the spirit of Esperanto that implies connecting people globally. Special attention is paid to developing countries, as the project was tested in Kenya, Tanzania, and Argentina. These countries are not of great popularity among crypto project developers, but their verified users of the Celo app could send and receive small amounts of crypto.
There are two testnets conducted on the platform: Alfajores Testnet that is designed for developers building on the Celo platform and Baklava Testnet that is focused on building operational experience and best practices for node operators.
The team follows the approach of developing both the protocol and a consumer wallet. This allows sending cryptocurrency to any person simply by using the cell phone number.
Valora, the first mobile peer-to-peer payments and remittance app built on the Celo platform, was officially launched on February 10, 2021, after a successful pilot. Valora means “precious” in Esperanto and its developers state that it allows sending money like a text message. Using Valora means no banks or intermediaries charging extra fees. The Valora transfer fee is 1 cent per transaction. Blockchain technologies make transferring funds globally fast, secure, and cost-effective.
To start using Valora, it is necessary to confirm the phone number, then sync the phone contacts to send money to anyone in the contact list. The app supports the native platform’s coins, CELO and Celo Dollar (cUSD). It is possible to buy these coins in the app from a third-party vendor, Simplex or MoonPay, by using a credit card. It is also possible to send CELO and Celo Dollar to Valora from a cryptocurrency exchange. Crypto can be sent to those who have no app but they will need to set up a wallet to receive the transaction. Valora is compatible with both Android and iOS and can be downloaded from Google Play and App Store for free.
The platform represents two asset systems: CELO and Celo Dollar (cUSD). Celo Dollar is a stable asset that follows the price of the US Dollar. The Celo project is aimed to enable a family of stable-value ERC-20 tokens pegged by valuable assets. The platform team reports they are going to create Celo Euros (cEUR), Celo Pesos (cMXN), and many others as Celo can potentially support a stablecoin version of any tradable fiat currency.
CELO is a utility, reserve, and governance token for the Celo community. Its maximum supply is 1 Billion coins. There were two private sales conducted on January 1-2, 2018, and January 1-2, 2019. 6 and 30 million USD were raised respectively. The public sale started on April 29, 2020, and ended on May 13, 2020. There were 10 million tokens sold and 10 million USD raised.
Initially, the token was launched under the name of Celo Gold (cGLD). But in June 2020 the token was rebranded to Celo Native Asset or CELO after a community-driven governance proposal had been accepted. The main reason for this change was to provide distinct differentiation between the Celo native asset and the line of Celo stablecoins. CELO is not a store of value and has nothing to do with the price of actual gold. This coin is for those who are interested in the Celo platform development.
The main CELO use cases include voting, participating in governance decisions, supporting applications, transaction payments, etc. CELO can be also staked on CoinList with an expected annual return of nearly 6%.
CELO is traded on Binance, Coinbase Pro, OKEx, Bittrex, and some other crypto exchanges. It is also possible to receive CELO participating in some events. For example, users can earn up to 6 USD in CELO by answering some questions about the Celo platform on Coinbase.
The project team understands the importance of stabilization of the token value. That is why it is necessary to have a mechanism to reduce or increase the number of tokens in circulation. The reserve is a platform’s component that provides the support of the platform’s stable coins with other cryptocurrencies.
The initial reserve portfolio was allocated in CELO but then it may be partially exchanged to non-Celo crypto assets. Initially, it was expected that assets of the reserve would be distributed as follows: 50% CELO, 30% BTC, 15% ETH, 5% stable value portfolio.
Celo implements Address Based Encryption which is an innovative approach that provides a secure way of messaging by using a phone number or email address. Users generate a public key and encrypt their public key with their phone number. The phone number is mapped to the wallet with the private key encrypted and stored on the phone. The backup key will help in case a user has lost access to the phone or wallet. This is the only way to restore access to the Celo wallet.
The project was audited several times. For example, MultiSig, a blockchain security consulting company, performed a security audit in February 2020.
Celo was created by Rene Reinsberg, Sep Kamvar, and Marek Olszewski. They had already worked together on a startup prior to launching Celo. Reinsberg lives in Germany and he started his career in global capital markets at Morgan Stanley. Kamvar is the LG Career Development Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, and director of the Social Computing group, at the MIT Media Lab. All of them hold key positions in cLabs, an operating company that started the Celo platform.
The full list of employees is available on the Celo website and it seems to be one of the longest lists of such kind: it includes over 100 individuals.