Cardano is a blockchain project focused on developing a framework for smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps) that prioritizes advanced functionality and scalability. The native cryptocurrency of the Cardano network is called ADA, which can be used to transfer value in the same way as other digital assets. However, the maximum supply of ADA coins is capped at 45 billion.
Cardano operates on a public, decentralized network that utilizes the Proof-of-Stake algorithm to achieve consensus about ledger state. The project was launched in 2017 by Charles Hoskinson, a co-founder of Ethereum.
Cardano was created as a solution to Bitcoin’s poor network performance and Ethereum’s lack of scalability. Cardano is based on the principles of scalability, interoperability, and regulatory compliance.
Cardano has two features, the Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL) and the Cardano Computational Layer (CCL). CSL tracks transactions and uses ADA as its currency while CCL, which is similar to Ethereum, focuses on smart contracts and dApps.
Cardano is a cryptocurrency project that takes a rigorous approach to development. For example, the protocol’s Ouroboros Proof-of-Stake consensus protocol has been subject to academic peer review. Thanks to its blockchain architecture, Cardano uses less than 0.01% of the energy consumed by Bitcoin, as reported by the University of Cambridge.
Cardano’s Haskell-based smart contracts offer greater security than those written in other languages. With Plutus, developers can use Haskell to write self-executing contracts and create new tokens.
There are hundreds of blockchain projects in the Cardano ecosystem, including decentralized exchanges (DEXs), wallets, DeFi protocols, NFT marketplaces, token launchpads, games, and more.
Charles Hoskinson, one of the original founders of Ethereum, came up with the idea for Cardano. However, he left Ethereum because he disagreed with where the team wanted to take the project in the future. Afterward, Hoskinson started IOHK–a blockchain infrastructure company and primary developer of Cardano.
Cardano began development in 2015 but did not launch until 2017, accumulating $62 million from its ICO campaign. In total, the project held five fundraising events between 2015 and 2017, selling nearly 30 billion ADA.
Cardano is managed by three organizations which serve different purposes – IOHK, Cardano Foundation, and Emurgo. IOHK manages the technical development of the Cardano protocol, the Cardano Foundation promotes adoption of Cardanao blockchain technology while Emurgo focuses on commercial applications.
Cardano is focusing on five major aspects of the protocol, each in a different phase. The phases are listed below in order from first to last:
- Byron (Foundation)
- Shelley (Decentralization)
- Goguen (Smart contracts)
- Basho (Scaling)
- Voltaire (Governance)
Upon finishing the objectives detailed in the five phases of our road map, Cardano will be a fully decentralized blockchain ecosystem not under IOHK’s management. In addition, it will have advanced scaling and governance features on top of interoperable smart contracts.