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Cardano Upgrades to ‘Alonzo White’, Smart Contracts are Coming

In the past few weeks, our weekly news series has focused a lot on Bitcoin, the crypto market, and market psychology. It is important to.

Posted July 19, 2021

Cardano coin logo on dark blue background.
Cardano coin logo on dark blue background.

In the past few weeks, our weekly news series has focused a lot on Bitcoin, the crypto market, and market psychology. It is important to investigate the performance of the Bitcoin market, as it is currently the cryptocurrency with the highest market cap and has been a “barometer” for the crypto sentiment. 

However, we should not forget that beyond Bitcoin, other blockchains, and particularly the ones ranked top 10 by market cap, are moving on with their developmental plans, regardless of market conditions. In this weekly news in the crypto space, we’re covering Cardano.

Cardano successfully upgrades to Alonzo White

Cardano, the fifth-biggest network by its cryptocurrency market cap, is undergoing a series of upgrades that will bring smart-contract functionality to the blockchain. This series is called Alonzo, and it comes in three phases — blue, white, and purple.

It’s important to note that these upgrades are all happening on the test network (testnet). So, the term “hard fork” shouldn’t worry anyone currently holding ADA (Cardano’s cryptocurrency) right now.  

Alonzo’s test developments were expected to take 90 days before it is implemented to the Cardano main network. This will involve testing the implementation of Plutus, a platform to implement smart contracts on-chain and off-chain. 

The fact that Cardano has not yet implemented a smart contract functionality may come to a surprise for some people. Smart contracts are what differentiated most of today’s blockchain networks from the “first-generation” blockchains, such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and even the “meme” crypto Dogecoin.

Ethereum is the first ever to implement smart contracts to the blockchain, which helps the crypto space to grow massively as the number of use cases of blockchain technology explodes. Cardano’s founder, Charles Hoskinson, was one of the co-founders of Ethereum. However, he had left the project to develop his own vision of what a blockchain could be.

Why is the development of Cardano not as fast as the crypto space?

Many people’s impression of anything related to crypto is that of a rapidly developing technology where users and investors must move at break-neck speeds to catch up to it. Hoskinson and his team at IOHK had a different vision. 

Cardano takes a research-based approach in making any design decisions. This allows the developers to be truly confident in implementing any additional features as they have been tested rigorously and the results peer-reviewed.

In order for Cardano to be a truly sustainable, scalable, and eco-friendly blockchain network, it must sacrifice becoming a ‘first mover’. Taking the back seat, watching the crypto space evolve, taking note of mistakes to avoid, and avoiding fear of missing out (FOMO) are perhaps the strongest characteristics of the team behind Cardano.

What would smart contracts imply for Cardano?

Smart contracts would allow for the development of decentralised applications (DApps), which are apps that are not owned or controlled by the issuing developer. These DApps could help conduct more complex transactions which require contracts, such as rentals, borrowing, lending, auction, pre-sale, and more.

Even though smart contracts have not been implemented on Cardano, the network is already prepared to offer seamless migration of DApps from Ethereum to Cardano through a cross-network bridge. 

Since December last year, Cardano has been testing this bridge on a testnet to implement KEVM, which is the Cardano counterpart of Ethereum’s EVM (which stands for Ethereum Virtual Machine). Apart from that, since May 2021, Cardano has created a converter that allows developers and users to migrate ERC-20 tokens from Ethereum to Cardano.

IOHK explains how this converter works on their official website, “.. when [ERC-20 tokens are] moved across, these tokens will be ‘translated’ into a special native token on Cardano that has the same value and works just like an ERC20. Additionally, if the user wishes to do so at a later stage, they can move their tokens back to the source network by burning them on Cardano. Two-way convertibility is baked in.”

This ensures that when smart contracts are fully implemented on Cardano, the developers don’t have to “play catch up” with Ethereum to gain similar traction within a short span of time.

Cardano blockchain, in service even before smart contracts

Although smart contracts haven’t been implemented, IOHK has used Cardano’s settlement layer to help business clients solve digital identity and product traceability problems. 

Atala PRISM is a decentralised identity solution built on Cardano’s blockchain. They have partnered with the Ministry of Education in the Republic of Georgia, enabling students and businesses to verify education credentials and backgrounds. Emurgo, one of Cardano’s founding entities, have also utilised the blockchain for various traceability programmes, especially in agriculture

Lacking smart contract applications does not imply that Cardano can only process basic peer-to-peer transactions like on Bitcoin’s blockchain. Far from it, Cardano can function like any other blockchain — to store and retrieve data from an independent distributed ledger within a secure network that is difficult to hack. 

To that end, Cardano is a blockchain that really takes its time. It is a network that is developed by perfectionists, and its strength owes itself to academic scrutiny and the scientific method.

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Last updated November 23, 2021

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