The third largest blockchain platform in the world, Cardano’s successful update gives it smart contract functionality, providing developers with the ability to create apps that can utilise the advanced capabilities of its blockchain.
The Alonzo upgrade marks the first stage in creator Charles Hoskinson’s plans to advance a fairer global financial system at a reduced monetary and environmental cost. Within 24 hours, the platform has already seen more than 100 smart contracts run on the network, with its first decentralised application also already deployed.
Blockchain is set to play a pivotal role in the future of applications. In fact 61% of software developers say blockchain is a ‘game changer’. By building decentralised apps – or ‘dApps’ – on the blockchain, developers minimise the security compromises of traditional apps, which live on a central server, instead utilising the security of a global network of thousands of computers.
However, creating apps on the blockchain has, until now, been inaccessible for many developers, who are faced with high and unpredictable costs, as well as energy inefficiencies.
As a result, implementing blockchain for smaller enterprises has often not been a truly viable option without having to compromise on sustainability goals or business costs.
Cardano claims to solve many of these issues. Its blockchain uses an innovative mechanism for verifying transactions, meaning the whole network is significantly more energy efficient than Bitcoin. Its ability to accurately predict transaction costs also provides price stability, allowing developers to build applications without risking lost transactions or unexpectedly high costs.
This year has been pivotal for IOHK, the engineering company behind Cardano. In April, it announced the world’s largest blockchain deployment. Five million teachers and students in Ethiopia were provided with instantly verifiable IDs, facilitating better lesson planning, monitoring of student progress, and allowing the government to be better sighted of future workforce planning needs and gaps. For students, it also allowed them to share verifiable qualification details with employers.
IOHK also pioneered a novel solution which allowed the creation of NFTs on Cardano without the need for smart contracts. More than 780,000 NFTs have already been created.
The company has also launched Catalyst – a huge blockchain innovation fund. It incentivises and funds innovative projects to support the Cardano blockchain and ecosystem. Catalyst has already donated $5m to 90 projects, and has a treasury worth more than $1.5B.
The Cardano Alonzo upgrade comes after six years of research and development, including the production of nearly 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers, in order to create a blockchain which could live up to the promises of the technology and address the long-standing problems involving cost, environmental stability, security, and scalability.
Cardano creator Charles Hoskinson described the Alonzo upgrade as a game-changing moment for the platform.
“This upgrade is the culmination of six years of incredibly hard work with some of the brightest minds in blockchain and beyond,” he said.
“The focus is now on improving the platform further, and ensuring that Cardano is adopted by corporations and governments. With this launch, commercialisation is as much in the hands of the community as it is the system architects, and they are already delivering – in less than 24 hours, over 100 smart contracts have already been run on the network.”
He also opened up about his dedication to the project, describing the design of the blockchain as “the most difficult and meaningful work of my career”.
“This time next year, there will be useful, and in some cases, life-changing, decentralised applications running on the system which will transform the lives of millions to billions of people throughout the next decade,” he added.
“This is also a triumph for science. We set out to build Cardano using a first principles approach, asking fundamental questions, publishing academic papers and following the peer review process.
“That diligent approach has delivered the world’s most robust, advanced blockchain, designed to underpin the world’s systems for everyone everywhere.”
Focus on the fundamentals:
Marek Mahut, Founder of Five Binaries, ran the first smart contract on Cardano yesterday.
“Cardano has always stood out for its focus on the fundamentals,” he said.
“It considers a problem from different angles before implementing the solution. This is what makes smart contracts so exciting.
“Safety and scalability are major features for any developer. Cardano’s accounting technology, eUTXO, provides a novel approach, which makes writing secure smart contracts easier.
“I’m proud to have made the first execution of a smart contract on the Cardano mainnet, and am excited to see how the capabilities unfold as updates continue to roll out.”
IOHK will be discussing planned upgrades and improvements to smart contract functionality during the Cardano Summit on September 25 and 26. The summit will explore IOHK’s plans to ensure that Cardano fulfils its potential to act as an operating system for industries, supply chains and even governments, as well as discussing the scientific research underpinning the platform.
Speakers at the event include Sheila Warren, Global Executive, World Economic Forum; Gillian Tett, editor-at-large, Financial Times, and Misan Harriman, Chair of the Southbank Centre.