How to buy Stellar Lumens (XLM)
By: Ofir Beigel | Last updated: 11/2/21
Stellar provides a decentralized international payment network, which enables fast transactions with low fees. In this post I’ll explain a bit about the Stellar currency known as Lumens, or XLM, and how to buy it online.
How to Buy Stellar Lumens Summary
The Stellar network is designed to make international payments and currency transfers swift and painless. Confirmations can happen within 3 seconds, and thousands of transactions occur every second.
Here’s how to buy Stellar Lumens (XLM):
- Get a Stellar wallet (Ledger Nano S, Foxlet)
- Get your XLM address
- Go to CEX.io
- Buy XLM via a credit card or a wire transfer
- Send the XLM to your wallet
That’s it! If you want a detailed explanation about Stellar and XLM keep on reading, here’s what I’ll cover:
- What is Stellar?
- Buying Stellar Lumens (XLM) in 3 steps
The main reason for the Stellar fork was to create a much more altruistic payment network than what Ripple has become.
Ripple is a for profit company that serves mainly banks and financial institutions. It has raised a lot of money and is very PR and marketing driven.
Stellar, on the other hand, is a non-profit foundation that raised very little money and aims to be a “Free for all” payment network (similar to Bitcoin’s censorship resistance).
Of course, things have developed since the 2014 fork, but direct comparisons are still easy to see. For example, 100 billion Lumens (also known as XLM), Stellar’s native token, were “pre-mined” and exist today (similar to the supply of Ripple’s XRP).
There are now around 20 billion Lumens in circulation while the Stellar Foundation currently holds the remaining supply.
It is important to understand how the Stellar network operates, including how it affects lumens before investing.
Generally, both Ripple and Stellar try to solve issues with international payments by allowing users to convert them into the digital currency, so they can send them as assets to the receiving party.
To make a payment using Stellar, users must work with a network anchor, which is simply a trusted intermediary that holds and converts funds. Here’s how it works:
Fiat (such as dollars and euros) is sent to an anchor where it’s exchanged for digital credit. The digital credit is then sent to another anchor that’s trusted by the receiving party, where it will be exchanged back to Fiat.
What are Stellar Lumens Used For?
So where do lumens come in? There is no explicit relationship between the Stellar network and the lumen token. That said, you are not able to participate in the network without holding some tokens.
Lumens are needed for several purposes:
- Help avoid fake accounts on the Stellar network by requiring a 0.5 Lumen deposit for each account on the network.
- When sending transactions through the Stellar network a small transaction fee (0.000001 Lumens) is deducted in Lumens.
- Lumens sometimes facilitate trades between pairs of currencies between which there is not a large direct market, acting as a bridge.
If you are looking at Stellar Lumens as an investment, take a look again. It will draw the same criticisms as Ripple and its native XRP token.
Of course, transactions can be made by using lumens, but it still feels somewhat forced. It is also important to note that it is really an intermediary currency, which people are unlikely to hold for large periods of time.
In order to store your Lumens you will need a wallet that can hold them. There’s a variety of wallets that support Stellar, however only a few reputable wallets support both Stellar Lumens and other cryptocurrencies.
Ledger offers two models of secure hardware wallets that can hold lumens. If you’re looking for a wallet that can hold lumens along with other currencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple you won’t find a better option.
If you’re not keen on buying a hardware wallet you can always use Blockchain.com’s wallet. The wallet has a web and mobile version (iOS and Android). It can store Stellar Lumens, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and USD Pax (a stablecoin).
Once you have your wallet you will need an XLM address. Your XLM address is a long string of characters all uppercase that start with a “G”. For example:
Lumens carry the ticker symbol XLM, which was recently changed from STR. Some exchanges may not have updated this change, so check for both when looking to trade.
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Buy Stellar Lumens through eToro
The easiest way to buy Stellar Lumens would be through eToro’s Stellar trading platform.
It’s important to make a distinction between exchanges that help you buy and hold your own Lumens, and platforms like eToro that allow users to make money off the price changes but are less friendly towards withdrawing the coins.
In other words, using eToro is more recommended for people who wish to buy/sell Lumens for fiat currency (i.e. Dollars, Euros, etc.) in order to make a profit.
Due to the above, if you use eToro you don’t actually need a Stellar wallet as you probably won’t withdraw the actual coin.
Buy Stellar Lumens through CEX.io
The fastest way to purchase Stellar Lumens (XLM) would be with a credit card via CEX.
The London-based veteran cryptocurrencies exchange has been around since 2013 and offers a fast & convenient way to purchase Stellar Lumens.
As opposed to most other options, CEX can accept deposits via a credit card, debit card, SEPA and wire transfer. You can read my full review of CEX.io here.
Buy Stellar Lumens through Coinbase
Coinbase allows you to buy Stellar Lumens through their brokerage service or their trading platform (Coinbase Pro). The brokerage service is faster and more convenient for new users but has more fees.
Advanced users are better off using the trading platform to save a bit on fees.
Coinbase accepts debit cards, wire transfers and domestic transfers and is available in 103 states around the world. You can read my complete Coinbase review here.
Buy Stellar With Bitcoin or Ethereum (trade BTC/ETH for XLM)
Here’s how to get XLM on Binance:
- Sign up to Binance
- Go to “Funds” -> “Deposits” and fund BTC to your account
- Wait for the BTC to arrive at your account
- Go to “Exchange” -> “Basic”
- Select XLM/BTC
- Choose “market order”
- Enter the amount of XLM to buy
- Click “Buy XLM”
Additional Ways to Buy Stellar
For more advanced users there’s the option to use Kraken, a Bitcoin exchange that has expanded its currency selection, and is a popular option, although the system can sometimes be quite latent. Kraken accepts only wire transfers.
If you bought Stellar Lumens from an exchange, make sure to withdraw them to your own wallet. Keeping your lumens on an exchange exposes you to the risk of hacks, theft, and insolvency (on the exchange’s part).
Once you see the Lumens in your wallet you can safely say you’ve completed the process of buying XLM.
Buying XLM is a bit more complex than most other popular cryptocurrencies out there, however with the variety of exchanges around today, the whole process shouldn’t take too long.
Stellar and XLM are considered to be the “good” twin sister for Ripple and XRP. The company has shown considerable progress since it began in 2014, however it’s unclear if investing in XLM is actually a good move, since there is no direct use of XLM in the Stellar network.
Have you had any experience with Stellar Lumens? Do you still have questions? Let me know in the comment section below.