Only recently, the Cardano cryptocurrency has blasted into the top 3 by capitalization (it has since rolled back into 4th place, however). This is an incredible success for historically not the most popular crypto that doesn’t even use smart contracts.
The ADA price has risen 49% over the past seven days. Thanks to this, Cardano has taken third place in the ranking of cryptocurrencies with more than $ 70 billion capitalization. It has now been pushed down to fourth by Binance Coin, but that could hardly upset the Cardano community.
Especially if you consider that ADA traded at $ 0.10 – $ 0.14 per crypto coin only a year ago. Then it started growing – along with all altcoins – especially rapidly since the beginning of February this year. On May 16, the price reached a record $ 2.39 per ADA, followed by a sharp fall to $ 1.47.
But the crypto community had already got some appreciation for the project, having recognized that Cardano is in fact the # 1 blockchain when it comes to the number of active developers. Without smart contracts for now, though: they are supposed to get launched in September. After that, experts expect the ADA price to reach $ 5- $ 10. In the meantime, over the past week, the cost has “grown back” from $ 1.43 to the current $ 2.20.
The main driver for the current rise was the head of the Cardano project, Charles Hoskinson, who in a recent stream talked about an upcoming launch date announcement for smart contracts. More precisely, this will be the day of the Alonzo hard fork, to which the launch of smart contracts on the Cardano blockchain is connected. The hard fork is currently expected to be launched before the Cardano Summit conference in September.
The fact that the functionality of smart contracts will be implemented in Alonzo means the possibility of using decentralized applications (dapps) on the network, including games, financial services, exchanges, and much more. Essentially, everything you need to deploy the DeFi infrastructure. So far, the Cardano project has been missing the periods of rapid decentralized finance industry growth, which has greatly constrained ADA’s popularity in the market.
On June 16, IOHK (an engineering research company, the brainchild of Charles Hoskinson and the main developer of Cardano) published a video that confirmed the start of the smart contracts test drive. Moreover, the developers led by Tim Harrison reported: «We managed to create the simplest contracts and run them on the testnet. So far, they only perform elementary functions like returning the phrase “Hello World!” or confirming the payment made. The full functionality of smart contracts will be presented with the Alonzo update. We will be ready for launch when we are convinced that our smart contracts can work adequately in terms of validation and execution on the web».
The Alonzo hard fork, as conceived by Charles Hoskinson, is part of the “Goguen era” that will make Cardano a complete network with modern functionality. Alonzo will go through three phases: Blue, White, and Purple. The Alonzo Blue testnet has been developed to prepare for the first of them. In addition to smart contracts, Alonzo from the outset will also include an ERC-20 token converter, also available on the Cardano network. This is a crucial point, the importance of which is probably still underestimated. The ability to operate ERC-20 tokens on the Cardano network presents a massive competitive advantage.
It gets better: everything points to ADA possibly becoming a much more popular means of payment than it is now. The Cardano community is discussing a new technology for calculating transaction fees called Stablefees. It will allow tying commissions to the value of tangible goods or currencies (or rather baskets of goods, indices, or currencies). To do this, the network needs to run external data oracles similar to those created by Chainlink.
Furthermore, back in mid-April, it became known that the Cardano network would get its first stablecoin, AgeUSD. It will be launched jointly with the Japanese company Emurgo (a decentralized software developer) as soon as the network starts supporting smart contracts. The goal of the Emurgo and Cardano co-project is to create a more secure alternative to the stablecoins currently available on the market.
The idea is for users themselves to provide stablecoin reserves. AgeUSD developers promise to right out of the gate solve the problems common to other stablecoins, such as the vulnerability of protocols with high volatility and blockchain overload. The Cardano stablecoin will overcome this issue due to its mathematics and protocol automation.
AgeUSD is also is expected to be completely decentralized and impossible to manipulate. Because of its decentralization, the coin can be entered into for any period of time: it will exist for as long as Cardano operates. IOHK already believes that AgeUSD will eventually become the largest DeFi project on the Cardano platform. Judging by the developments posted on GitHub, AgeUSD will have two types of users: reserve providers and coin holders. The former will send their coins to a decentralized application, which will then release stablecoins to users. In return, they will receive a percentage of commissions and benefit when the value of the currency sent to reserves increases. Buying coins will require paying a 1% protocol commission.
Finally, the Occam and Bondly development teams are working on decentralized finance projects for ADA. Those can be seen after the network switches to the Alonzo mainnet. All of these changes – the most significant since Cardano’s inception in 2015 – have led large investors to have faith in the project’s future. Grayscale has added the cryptocurrency to its digital fund: ADA now holds 4.26%. Additionally, the Cardano ecosystem also has the ability to issue NFTA (Non-Fungible Token of Appreciation). It’s done using Cardano CIP-721 standard, widely recognized as the best for creating non-fungible tokens. CIP-721 tokens are notable for their ability to work without smart contracts: the data is “hardcoded” into the transaction information when the token is issued.
This approach works when creating and issuing any token, not just NFT.
To summarize: Cardano is taking off right now, thanks in part to its excellent team of engineers and academics. They have published over 100 scientific papers on the technologies behind the ADA network. This serves as both an advantage and a disadvantage: such developers always strive for product excellence but miss opportunities to capture market niches. As a result, the daring “C students” become more successful on the open market than diligent “A students”. The Cardano team suffered from this in the past, but hopefully, the lesson has been learned.