Cardano Ecosystem Update: Alonzo hard fork,Native tokens,Plutus smart contracts,Marlowe,Nervos,Orion


Alonzo hard fork: To expand the variety of use cases for application developers and businesses, Cardano will support the ERC20 token migration to its platform. The Alonzo hard fork and Plutus smart contracts are on the way. Once deployed, users of supported Ethereum tokens will be able to bring them over from Ethereum's congested network and take advantage of Cardano's transaction capacity and lower fees, while enjoying enhanced security, reduced cost, and interoperability.

Ethereum brought the concept of smart contracts and ‘programmable money’ to the blockchain in 2015. Since then, tokenization and the ERC20 token have gained popularity because of utility in everyday business transactions.

The ERC20 standard was invented for Ethereum, and as of today, there are over 400,000 contracts based on this token standard with examples including Binance coin (BNB), Tether (USDT), Uniswap (UNI), and Dai (DAI) to name a few.

Ethereum is a popular and functional blockchain platform, but it is slowing down and becoming more expensive. As more network participants interact with decentralized applications, the ‘gas’ fees paid for validating transactions are rising sharply.

Ethereum has not yet resolved these challenges and is unlikely to do so in the short term. So many businesses will want to consider other options.

By enabling the migration of ERC20 tokens to Cardano, we focus on delivering a value proposition that leverages Cardano’s advantages over Ethereum. In particular, Cardano's higher capacity for transaction processing and lower fees when compared with Ethereum's high cost and often congested traffic.

The key to addressing the problem of network congestion and high fees is Cardano’s Ouroboros proof-of-stake consensus mechanism. Compared with Ethereum’s proof-of-work protocol, Ouroboros needs far less energy to process network transactions.

Additionally, Cardano does not require smart contract execution costs as the ledger supports native token functionality with its built-in accounting model.

ERC20 converter launch will ensure better interoperability in the future as well as lay a solid background for extended business opportunities. ERC20 converter is a tool that will allow issuing organizations and their users to handle ERC20 token migration to Cardano. It is designed for token issuers (organizations that wish to enable the migration of their tokens to Cardano), and their users (token holders) to use the tool to move their ERC20 tokens to the Cardano network.

Very soon ERC20 converter tool will be available on dedicated testnet. IO Global is currently working with partners for migration to Cardano, and SingularityNET will be the first of these. The ERC20 converter will introduce a new SingularityNET AGIX token, the deployment of which marks the first milestone in the SingularityNET to Cardano migration plan.


Native tokens: Native tokens will bring multi-asset support to Cardano, allowing users to create uniquely defined (custom) tokens and carry out transactions with them directly on the Cardano blockchain. This integrated multi-asset capability will be first available ion Daedalus wallet then later on Yoroi walet.

Native tokens will bring multi-asset support to Cardano, allowing users to create uniquely defined (custom) tokens and carry out transactions with them directly on the Cardano blockchain.

The use of tokens for financial operations is becoming ever more popular. It can cut costs at the same time as improving transparency, enhancing liquidity, and, of course, being independent of centralized entities such as big banks. Tokenization is the process of representing real assets (eg, fiat currencies, stocks, precious metals, and property) in a digital form, which can be used to create financial instruments for commercial activities.

With the ‘Mary’ upgrade, the ledger’s accounting infrastructure will process not only ada transactions but also transactions that simultaneously carry several asset types. Native support grants distinct advantages for developers as there is no need to create smart contracts to handle custom token creation or transactions.

Developers, businesses, and applications can create general purpose (fungible) or specialized (non-fungible) tokens to achieve commercial or business objectives. These might include the creation of custom payment tokens or rewards for decentralized applications; stablecoins pegged to other currencies; or unique assets that represent intellectual property. All these assets can then be traded, exchanged, or used as payment for products or services. Unlike ERC-20 tokens that are based on Ethereum smart contracts, the tracking and accounting of custom tokens on Cardano is supported by the ledger natively.

In creating an environment for native tokens, simplicity of working, affordability, and, of course, security is taken into consideration.

Depending on their preferences and technical expertise, users will be able to choose from three ways to create, distribute, exchange and store tokens:

  • Cardano command-line interface (CLI). Advanced users can currently access the CLI via a dedicated testing environment. We will deploy the CLI on the mainnet when we hard fork.

  • A ‘token builder’ graphical user interface (GUI). This will follow the native token CLI launch, providing an easier way for creating tokens.

  • The Daedalus wallet. Daedalus will provide support for sending and receiving custom-created tokens. Daedalus Flight will test native token functionality in March, which will be shortly followed by the mainnet release.

When all the necessary components are deployed, the native token lifecycle will be complete. It consists of five phases:

  • minting

  • issuing

  • using

  • redeeming

  • burning.

Plutus smart contracts: The Plutus platform provides a native smart contract language for the Cardano blockchain. To understand and become proficient in Plutus, one has to understand three concepts:

  • The Extended UTXO model (EUTXO)

  • Plutus Core ‒ the ‘on-chain’ part of Plutus

  • The Plutus Application Framework (PAF) ‒ the ‘off-chain’ part of Plutus that enables interaction with smart contracts.

Plutus contracts consist of parts that run on the blockchain (on-chain code) and parts that run on a user’s machine (off-chain or client code). Both the on-chain and off-chain code are written in Haskell, and Plutus smart contracts are effectively Haskell programs. Off-chain code can be written using PAF and this code is then compiled by the GHC (Glasgow Haskell Compiler), whereas on-chain code (written using the Plutus Core) is compiled by the Plutus compiler.

It is crucial to understand the relationship between these Plutus concepts and native tokens functionality to see how their interaction turns the latter into a more useful and powerful feature.

The use of Plutus when developing smart contracts will give the logic of future decentralized applications a greater level of rigor and security. The smart contracts in Cardano are designed from the ground up to be secure and mathematically verifiable. With this greater emphasis on security, the costly hacks and bugs that have created so much uncertainty in other projects can be dutifully avoided. Plutus will be used to write and deploy superior decentralized applications (DApps). The designers of these new DApps will have the security in knowing that these applications will do what they are intended to do, with a straightforward interface with very little room for unintended errors.

With the Alonzo hard fork coming up on the road towards the Goguen era, developers will be able to start trying out decentralized applications in a testnet and ready Cardano's network for the mainnet launch of smart contracts.


Marlowe: Decentralized finance, commonly known as DeFi offers financial tools without the need for central market makers, banks, or brokers. Each financial agreement is represented as a smart contract on the blockchain, and is settled algorithmically. Their decentralized nature makes them far more resilient to market manipulation or the failure of a centralized system.

Currently in developing phase a suite of Marlowe products to democratize finance and enable easy access to financial agreements. This includes Marlowe Run, a new product that will allow users to seamlessly execute off-the-shelf financial agreements with friends or clients in a secure fashion, and on their own. With added automation features and no need for third-parties, this peer-to-peer solution will be cost-effective, and more importantly, democratizing.

Marlowe aim to democratize finance by facilitating peer-to-peer agreements that run on a blockchain. It seeks to empower people to create their own financial instruments and set up agreements with anyone with whom they want to interact. Marlowe will offer a suite of products, each product serving a different function and set of users. Marlowe’s overarching product strategy comprises three streams – Marlowe for developers, Marlowe for end users, and Marlowe for enterprise.

  • Marlowe for developers: Marlowe for developers includes Marlowe Build and Marlowe Play (also called the Marlowe Playground) as well as the input to the Marlowe Library. Marlowe Build and Marlowe Play together enable end-to-end financial smart contract development.

  • Marlowe for end users: Marlowe for end users will bring an intuitive, straightforward, and seamless interface for users to execute financial agreements with their friends, colleagues, or clients on the blockchain. This includes Marlowe Run and gives access to a variety of templates for financial instruments from the Marlowe Library.

  • Marlowe for enterprise: Marlowe for enterprise aims to expand DeFi beyond individual users, helping enterprises to access the tangible benefits of smart contracts. This will include a bespoke, customizable suite of capabilities and financial agreements that are tailored to a commercial use case, with the provision of smart contract templates that adopt Algorithmic Contract Types Unified Standards (Actus) for financial contracts.

As a part of the Goguen rollout, we are now in the process of completing the implementation of Marlowe on Cardano, giving users and organizations the opportunity to execute DeFi contracts they have written themselves or downloaded from a contract repository. Marlowe will run first of all on the Cardano blockchain, but it is blockchain-agnostic so could run on other blockchains to reach an even broader audience in the future.

Marlowe for end users will come online in stages throughout 2021. The team is committed to delivering this suite of products for the Marlowe ecosystem that empower people across the globe to build, control, and execute their own financial instruments on their terms.


Nervos: OHK and Nervos are teaming up to build a bridge of interoperability between Cardano and the Nervos Network. Once completed, this pioneering cross-chain bridge will enable users to transact assets between the two blockchains. The end goal is to foster greater interoperability while expanding the global reach and utility of both Nervos and Cardano.

The Nervos ‘Common Knowledge Base’ (CKB) is a permissionless, layer 1, open-source, proof-of-work blockchain protocol focused on creating the foundations for an interoperable universal public network. It allows any crypto asset to be kept in a secure, immutable, and permissionless environment with the added benefit of smart contracts and layer 2 scaling.

Nervos is developing this robust network through three key components. Together, these make up the Universal Passport, Nervos’ approach to next generation interoperability.

  • PW Core – enables developers to build applications on all chains

  • Nervos’ Polyjuice – an Ethereum-compatible layer that allows developers to port a smart contract from Ethereum to Nervos

  • Force Bridge – a trustless bridge that enables cross-chain transactions between Nervos and a spectrum of blockchains. Nervos will use Force Bridge to connect directly to Cardano, which means that users will be able to transact using their existing Cardano wallets.

Blockchain technology will only achieve mainstream acceptance when end users are not locked into one blockchain or standard, but can seamlessly access value and utility, regardless of which blockchain they are using. 'Bridges like this are an absolute necessity in order to ensure that users have a seamless experience,' continued Pellerin. ‘By connecting their communities and finding innovative new ways to work together, as they have been doing with Nervos, they can ensure that blockchain lives up to its promises of creating a fairer and more efficient global financial operating system.'


Orion: Orion to bring one-stop crypto marketplace to Cardano. The new collab aims to make mainstream buying and selling digital assets as easy as traditional finance.

Orion Protocol aims to be the first decentralized gateway to the whole digital asset market which aggregates liquidity across both decentralized and centralized exchanges as well as swap platforms. The ultimate goal is to create a one-stop-shop for buying and selling on the blockchain, pushing crypto towards mainstream adoption by providing a single, non-custodial point of access for crypto traders on all major exchanges. Furthermore, it is exploring a future where digital assets like NFTs can be accessed as easily as the traditional financial market. Ultimately, Orion seeks to bring together all markets for all investors. Once fully operational, accessing NFTs and cryptocurrencies will be as easy as buying stocks and commodities.



References:

  1. IOHK Blog: Bringing ERC20 to Cardano

  2. IOHK Blog: Building native tokens on Cardano for pleasure and profit

  3. IOHK Blog: Strategic partners pave way for Plutus smart contracts

  4. Emurgo Blog: What Will Cardano’s Alonzo Hard Fork Do?

  5. IOHK Blog: Reimagining peer to peer finance with Marlowe

  6. IOHK Blog: Nervos partnership to build the first cross-chain bridge with Cardano

  7. IOHK Blog: Orion to bring one-stop crypto marketplace to Cardano