A recent addition to the top 5 biggest cryptocurrencies based on market cap, Cardano has earned itself an impressive position in the market. In 2021, the Cardano price saw significant price gains as the cryptocurrency went from $0.15 (December 2020) to highs of $3.10 (September 2021). This proved to be a valuable investment for early buyers.
The innovative chain saw increased trade volume on exchanges, not to mention a peaked interest in the service that the platform provides. Designed to be the next generation of Ethereum, let's explore what Cardano is and why has it risen in the ranks so quickly.
Cardano is the blockchain platform that is taking the industry by storm. Alongside its cryptocurrency, ADA, Cardano provides developers with a platform on which to build decentralized applications (dapps) and smart contracts. Through a more scalable and sustainable model, Cardano seeks to improve on Ethereum's offering and propel the blockchain and crypto industry into a more eco-friendly future.
Cardano uses a Proof-of-Stake consensus to facilitate the network and is considered to be a third-generation blockchain platform (Bitcoin being the first, Ethereum the second). Unlike other blockchain platforms, Cardano does not have a whitepaper and instead relies on rigorous academic and peer-reviewed research. The platform has numerous ties with universities around the world, contributing to the funding of the development of blockchain research.
Cardano was first conceptualized in 2015 and later launched in September 2017 by Ethereum co-founder, Charles Hoskinson. His goal was to build a highly scalable and energy-efficient smart contract platform. After leaving the Ethereum team, Hoskinson grouped together a team of expert engineers and academics and set out to build a layered blockchain platform from scratch.
Today, the platform is developed by a group of organisations that each focus on different elements of the business. The first is the Cardano Foundation which is responsible for standardizing, protecting and promoting the protocol technology. Input-Output Hong Kong (IOHK) focuses on building technological solutions centred around financial inclusion, while its sister company Emurgo is a global initiative designed to "support developers, startups and enterprises in developing blockchain solutions".
Together these companies assist in the growth and development of Cardano and appear to be doing a great job considering the impressive price gains recently witnessed. While regulatory news and Bitcoin may be behind many altcoin price swings, Cardano has done well to establish its value in the crypto market and build a community that supports its goals.
Through a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) mechanism known as Ouroboros, Cardano provides peer to peer transactions, dapp development and the creation of smart contracts. The layered architecture makes this possible, with one layer, known as the Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL) responsible for validating transactions and maintaining the ledger of balances while the Cardano Computing Layer (CCL) is responsible for the execution of all dapp computations via smart contracts.
The separation of these two layers allows the platform to offer lower fees, less network congestion and faster transactions. When thoroughly tested in 2017, Cardano was able to process 257 transactions per second (TPS), a large jump from Bitcoin's 4.6 TPS and Ethereum's 15 - 20 TPS.
Through its network of validators (known as a miner on a Proof-of-Work mining network) who each hold a stake in the network, Cardano is able to deploy smart contracts, facilitate the peer to peer exchange of value and provide the building blocks for dapp and token creation.
Before we answer what is ADA, let's first cover where the name came from. ADA is a nod to the person regarded as the "world's first computer programmer", the 19th-century mathematician, Ada Lovelace. Cardano on the other hand was named after the 16th-century Italian polymath Gerolamo Cardano. Each phase in the project's development is named after famed historical characters pertaining to maths, physics and literature.
While ADA can be used as digital cash to conduct payments, the cryptocurrency has a wider range of uses. The native token to the platform's operations, ADA, can be used to facilitate transactions, as a store of value, to participate in staking functionality, and to pay transaction fees on the network.
ADA will also be used as a governance token in the future, allowing its holders the ability to vote on upgrades and changes on the platform. This is in line with Cardano's intentions to make the network entirely decentralized and community-driven, incorporating an automated treasury system that would oversee and execute all funding required.
Another interesting element to the Cardano network is that all five development phases are consistently worked on at the same time, as opposed to moving on to the next once one is complete.
Of the five phases that each focus on specific functionalities, three so far have been completed, the most recent occurring in August 2021 when the platform launched smart contract functionality. The next two are focused on scaling, which involves implementing side chains that can facilitate sharding, and then its governance level, which will upgrade the platform into a fully self-sustainable and decentralized platform.
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