This week, the proof-of-stake blockchain project Cardano has been the talk of the town. Cardano’s Mary hard fork is one of the projects most ambitious developments since July 2020. On Wednesday, project lead Charles Hoskinson, announced that Cardano’s Mary hard fork is set to commence on the 1st of March following a month of testing and quality assurance . The hard fork is set to open a range of possibilities for users to leverage on Cardano’s multi-asset ledger and monetary mechanisms for ADA.
What is Cardano (ADA)
Cardano was established in 2015 by former Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson. The project prides itself as the first proof-of-stake blockchain to be founded “on peer-reviewed research and developed through evidence-based methods.” The project went live in 2017, raking in an impressive $60million in an ICO. Due to 95% of the ICO investors coming Japan, Cardano since been dubbed the “Japanese Ethereum”.
The Cardano Roadmap consists of four distinct phases of development: Byron, Shelley, Goguen, Basho and Voltaire.
The Byron phase is Cardano’s foundational step, starting from the launch of the Cardano mainnet in 2017 to the start of the Shelley phase in July 2020. During the Byron era, the Ouroboros consus protocol and Daedalus wallet were developed.
Shelley, the current phase, is dedicated to developing Cardano’s decentralization capabilities and was rolled out in July 2020. Under the Shelley phase, incentive schemes will be introduced, aiming to “drive stake pools and community adoption.” According to Cardano’s website, by the time the Shelley phase is over “we expect Cardano to be 50 – 100 times more decentralized than other large blockchain networks.”
The third phase is called Goguen and is focused on smart contract optimization and integration. Through Goguen,the decentralized core established via the Shelley phase, adds the ability for decentralized applications (DApps) to be built upon the existing Cardano foundation. Two key developments include Plutus, Cardano’s own smart contract platform and Marlowe, a new language for modeling financial instruments. The Goguen phase is currently in the process of being rolled-out and is where Cardano’s Mary hard fork will take place.
The final two phases are called Basho and Voltaire focused on the “optimization, improving scalability and interoperability of the network” and allowing the “Cardano network to become a self-sustaining system.”
The Mary Hard Fork
On Wednesday, Hoskinson, announced that Cardano’s Mary hard fork is set to commence on the 1st of March following a month of testing and quality assurance that ends on the 24th of February. The Mary hard fork is part of the Goguen roll-out and is considered one of the most important updates undertaken since the launch and conclusion of Shelley.
As part of the decentralization phase apparent in Goguen, the Mary update aims help Cardano transition from a single asset ledger, where only ADA is supported, to a multi-asset ledger, where a multitude of user-defined tokens are on offer. Important to note is that Cardano, unlike many altcoins does not use an ERC-based token. Instead, all user-based tokens are native to Cardano. Thus, to introduce multi-asset ledger, allows for “the ability to create user-defined tokens”, which can be interchanged and transacted directly with the Cardano network – similar to Cardano’s ADA token.
However, there is a key difference between ADA and the new tokens set to be issued. Firstly, ADA will remain Cardano’s flagship currency and will be the only tender that can be used for “service fees, rewards, and deposits.” Conversely, the new native tokens set to be released with the Mary hard fork, will have the unique feature to be destroyed. Coin burning or destroying means removing a certain number of coins supplied. This is similar to Ethereum’s EIP 1559 proposal which uses the destruction or burning of coins as a deflationary mechanism and means to tighten supply.
What this means for users
For many, the most interesting proposition behind Cardano’s Mary hard fork is the opportunity provided by the multi-asset ledger feature. As the multi-asset ledger feature allows users to create and develop their own tokens native to Cardano, financially underserved communities may be the first to benefit. Tokens could be created for all purposes and used by locals to buy and sell goods and services, without having to seek traditional third-party support.
This ability to assist financially underserved communities could also take the form of NFT’s, allowing local artists, developers etc. to market their production to a wider audience. Additionally, the native tokens could be pegged to stablecoins such as USDT, allowing locals in countries like Venezuela to bypass the troubles of hyper inflation.
Cardano has already been working on improving the lives of people in such communities, having an enterprise blockchain framework in Ethiopia called Atala. Whatever the use case may be, the Mary hard fork opens up a host of opportunities for users to monetize their work or to have a stable-currency payment option at their disposal.