Grainger Prize Awarded to Stablecoin Benefitting Mexico’s Unbanked
Grainger Prize Awarded to Stablecoin Benefitting Mexico’s Unbanked
By Petra Kelly

The second annual Grainger Computing Innovation Prize was awarded to a team of Illinois Institute of Technology students for its invention of a cross-compatible, simple-to-use stablecoin payment solution that would address the financial access gap for millions of Mexico’s unbanked. 

The winning team, Baro—named StarPay during the competition—was awarded the $15,000 first-place prize during a live November 9, 2022, event in which it was one of five finalist teams judged by a panel of Chicago technology experts. The team included André Guardia, (PHYS, B.S. PHYS 4th Year), Jorge Plascencia (AE, B.S. AE 2nd Year), Rishabh Tyagi (CS, B.S. CS 4th Year), and David Singer (ITM, B.S. ITM 4th Year).

With Mexico’s government aiming to launch its own Centralized Digital Bank Currency (Crypto-Peso) by 2025, the team said it hoped its invention will become “the go-to payment solution for the future of the country’s CDBC infrastructure.”

“With 90 percent of all transactions [in Mexico] being in cash, fragmented smartphone capabilities, and inconsistent internet coverage, there is a great need for a simple, cross-compatible payment network,” says Guardia, the StarPay team leader. “Financial access in Latin America is profoundly important to us, as we’ve experienced firsthand the cascading consequences of being outside the traditional financial system: theft, corruption, predatory rates, and exclusion from digital services.”

The annual Grainger Computing Innovation Prize aims to solve critical societal challenges through innovative computing solutions and cross-disciplinary collaborations. The Grainger Foundation, established in 1949 by William W. Grainger, founder of W.W. Grainger, Inc., is an independent, private foundation based in Lake Forest, Illinois.