Celo is a blockchain ecosystem focused on increasing cryptocurrency adoption among smartphone users.
By using phone numbers as public keys, Celo hopes to introduce the world’s billions of smartphone owners, including those without banking access, to transacting in cryptocurrency.
The network also allows for the creation of smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps) as part of decentralized finance (DeFi). Its mainnet was launched in April 2020.
The platform has two native tokens. CELO is a proof-of-stake (PoS) token used for transaction fees, governance participation and related activities. In future, the platform aims to host various stablecoins, with one, the Celo Dollar (CUSD), already in use.
Celo was originally founded by a team comprised of people from MIT, Stanford, Google, Square, Circle, Visa, GoDaddy, World Bank, Federal Reserve Bank, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Cambridge University, U.S. Department of Justice, Bank Of America, Capital One, Twitter, Give Directly, and the Gates Foundation
Separate entities are aimed at Celo’s promotion and preservation. The dedicated Celo Foundation is a non-profit which launched along with the mainnet, while the Celo Alliance for Prosperity is what the company describes as an “ecosystem of mission-aligned organizations.”
Celo’s main unique selling point lies in its focus on smartphone users. The company argues that the number of smartphone owners is increasing exponentially, but the number of people using cryptocurrency is rising at a much slower pace.
Cryptocurrency is further highly suited to regions in which a large section of the population does not have access to the banking sector, but still has a smartphone.
Bridging the gap between the two technologies is what Celo aims to do, along with harnessing the benefits of DeFi by supporting the creation of DApps and smart contracts.
Optimized for mobile, the Celo blockchain automatically calculates transaction fees, and also allows users to pay the gas fees which power transactions in any currency.
CELO and CUSD perform complementary functions within the Celo platform.
CELO has a capped supply of 1 billion (1,000,000,000) tokens, of which 600 million were available when the mainnet launched in April 2020.
The last 40% of the supply will be released gradually via fees and rewards, and various vesting schedules are in place depending on how initial investors received their tokens.
In addition, up to 120 million CELO will go towards a reserve designed to maintain the validity and price stability of CUSD. As a stablecoin, CUSD is envisioned as a convenient payment method for Celo users who will not have to worry about their holdings fluctuating in value.
Celo uses proof-of-stake to maintain security, and has a complex election process to determine validators of its blockchain.
Holders of CELO are able to use their holdings as a means of participating in elections by voting for groups of validators.