There is a lot of excitement around the upcoming Cardano Shelley update. The ambitious crypto project, Cardano is fast becoming a trailblazer. Branded as the 3rd generation of blockchain after Bitcoin (generation 1) and Ethereum (generation 2), Cardano encompasses many unique characteristics and features. The upcoming Cardano Shelley update is expected to be the next big release of Cardano.
Before we explore why everybody is eagerly awaiting Cardano Shelley update, here’s a quick recap of what Cardano is all about and the functionalities that are available in its current release.
Cardano Shelley Update: The 3rd Gen Prodigy
When Bitcoin, the first generation of blockchain came into existence, it introduced a brand-new financial transaction technology that was peer-to-peer in nature and permitted borderless transactions without the need for a middle-man.
Then came Ethereum, the second generation, wherein it implemented smart contract functionality. However, both the first and second generation blockchain technology had a major flaw – it caused splits whenever there was any major upgrade.
In the third generation blockchain technology, the main features in focus are scalability, treasury systems, sustainability, interoperability (side chains), and on-chain governance. Cardano plans to support easy scalability on the network by implementing layers on the Cardano blockchain technology.
Catering to Users and Regulators
The innovative blockchain-based platform of Cardano is based on scientific philosophy and a research-driven approach. Usually, a cryptocurrency starts off with a basic whitepaper. But in the case of Cardano, investors have a plethora of academic papers to explore.
Cardano basically provides a programmable blockchain and smart contracts for dApp development. It is jointly developed by a global team of expert engineers and researchers who recognize that technology should be scalable, flexible, and secure in order to thrive as well as remain useful to millions of users.
The company aims to combine privacy with regulation, thereby giving best of both worlds – balancing the needs of the users with the regulators. In their words, “The vision for Cardano is that its new style of regulated computing will bring greater financial inclusion by providing open access for all to fair financial services.”
The 5 Special Features of Cardano
Launched in 2015 by Charles Hoskinson and Jeremy Wood, Cardano platform utilizes a rigorously and academically peer-reviewed open source code.
The important features of Cardano are its coding language, proof of stake (PoS) protocol, layered technology, governance model, and treasury.
Coding Language: Cardano is built from scratch using the functional programming language, Haskell. Haskell’s mathematical approach allows for code to be written in a more reliable and secure manner.
PoS Protocol: Cardano uses a proprietary PoS protocol with mathematically proven security called Ouroboros. Ouroboros assures that all the blocks that are being dealt with are legitimate and tamper-proof. Ouroboros can also enable many advanced scaling options like sidechains (wherein there are multiple chains that all interoperate) and sharding (wherein the larger blockchain is broken down into manageable chunks)
Layered Technology: Cardano aims to use a layered technology. The first layer called the Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL) will focus on transactions and accounts. The native currency, ADA will be transacted over CSL. The second layer called Cardano Control Later (CCL) and it is the computational layer for smart contracts. Having two layers basically helps Cardano to have enhanced flexibility as well as easier upgrades.
Governance: The future of a blockchain depends on its Governance model to a large extent. Cardano’s aim is to implement on-chain governance. Here, community proposed updates to the blockchain would be voted by the ADA token holders. Once approved, the updates would be encoded into the blockchain.
Treasury: The treasury is also decentralized, wherein 25% of the block rewards are planned to be placed. The voting by the ADA holders will decide how to spend this money.
Cardano’s Current Phase: Byron
Cardano is currently in the Bootstrap Era, which is code-named as the “Byron” phase.
George Gordon Byron
Interestingly, this phase is named after famed British poet George Gordon Byron.
Byron is the first major release of the platform. It basically establishes the baseline for Cardano for letting users trade and transfer ADA.
Here are the key developments in the Byron phase.
Cardano SL: The launch of Cardano SL MainNet was done on September 29, 2017.
Exchange Enhancements: The performance enhancements and improvements are being done to the code in Byron phase. This is to ensure that it can handle the increasing rates of activities on major crypto exchanges. Cardano aims to increase the number of users that can be served with a fixed volume of transactions. In order to support this feature, a brand new API (Application Programming Interface), is being delivered.
To ensure that Cardano can support multiple exchanges, many existing APIs are also being revised in this phase. There is already testing being done on Binance and Bittrex exchanges for quicker resolutions of any maintenance issues. A support tracking system is also created in order to monitor any incoming requests.
Improvements to the design of Daedalus: The graphical user interface (GUI) of Cardano wallet, Daedalus is being improved in this phase. The users will now be able to submit bug reports from within the Daedalus application.
All said and done, the fact remains that, right now, the only working protocol of Cardano is its settlement layer, wherein its currency ADA resides. Although Ouroboros is turned on, consensus is currently locked to private nodes (IOHK) until the system gathers momentum. Which means that Cardano is PoS centralized right now and the rewards are simply being burned.
If we strip all the frills, Cardano is now only a cryptocurrency and is yet to release other features for becoming a blockchain platform.
Cardano Shelley Update: Next Phase
By mid-2018, Cardano plans to roll into its next phase called Shelley. This is when things start to get exciting. This phase is named after the English poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
The ultimate aim of Shelley phase is for the technology to become a fully decentralised and autonomous system. Once Byron is stabilized and refined, IOHK plans to make significant improvements to its core components in the Shelley phase.
The important developments expected in Shelley phase are open Ouroboros delegation, multiSig transactions, enhanced Wallet backend, consensus and incentive fees, quantum-resistant signatures, light client mode, human-friendly addresses, networking, voting centre, paper wallets.
Open Ouroboros delegation: In Cardano, the transaction confirmations are not done with hardware (PoW) but with the user’s already owned ADA (PoS). This means that Cardano SL makes use of a proof of stake approach to reach consensus and ultimately produce blocks in the blockchain. A key element of decentralization is the ability of delegating stakes by stakeholders. In Shelley phase, users will have the capability to delegate their stake or to act as stake pools and have stake delegated to them.
MultiSig transactions: In Cardano Shelly phase, multisignature transaction will be enabled. It is a very useful security feature that allows Daedalus to support wallets that are shared across multiple people and which enables joint control of funds.
Enhanced Wallet backend: In Shelley phase, the wallet backend is aimed to be enhanced. The wallet backend basically gives Daedalus HD wallet capabilities as well as provide the link between Daedalus and the Cardano network. By enhancing the wallet backend, the performance of Daedalus would be increased, and also make it easier for third-party systems to integrate with Cardano.
Consensus and incentive fees: The incentive scheme in Shelley phase would be based on sound foundations of mathematics, economic theory, and game theory. This scheme is planned to be introduced to make sure that stakeholders will fully participate in the protocol and also setup the required infrastructure for running a node. The incentive scheme will have appropriate rewards for operating full nodes, a mechanism to set transaction fees, incentives to delegate stake, and more.
Quantum-resistant signatures: One of the major worries in crypto-verse is the development of quantum computers that would break cryptography. Cardano plans to mitigate this by adding a new type of transaction. This transaction will use a quantum-resistant signature scheme called BLISS. Even if the cryptography is broken, this would allow funds to be secured against being stolen.
Light client mode: Currently, using a wallet for the first time or after a while requires a long wait time. This is because of the time necessary for the entire blockchain to finish downloading. In the Shelley phase, Cardano plans to include light client mode feature that would significantly reduce the blockchain syncing time. For doing this, Daedalus wallet would subscribe to a trusted blockchain checkpoint provider. A checkpoint is basically snapshots of the Cardano blockchain in time. With this update, Daedalus would only need to sync the blockchain from the most recent checkpoint, rather than the entire blockchain, thus saving time.
Human-friendly addresses: The addresses of Cardano are presently a string of letters and numbers that are a lot longer than Bitcoin addresses. In the Shelley phase, the length of the address would be significantly trimmed, making them easier to communicate. This is planned to be done by minimising the information represented in the addresses and improving the way that stake delegation information is represented.
Improved networking: A new network layer that gives a degree of protection to large-scale distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, and enables decentralization while supporting a wide and dynamic network topography over common internet infrastructure is planned for Shelley phase.
A voting centre: Instead of central authorities deciding on protocol and software updates, Cardano plans to have a voting centre for this decision making. Users can use their stake or delegate it to the stake pool to vote on upcoming updates and protocol changes.
Paper wallets: Paper wallets are now becoming increasingly popular as they can be used for placing funds in cold storage on a physical medium. Shelley update plans to make paper wallet available in Daedalus.
The Cardano Shelley update will prepare Cardano for a range of impressive features, including smart contracts, metadata, side chains, multi-party computation, and more. Those protocols will be added gradually over time.
What’s next after Cardano Shelley Update?
After the Cardano Shelley update there will be 3 more releases for Cardano. First will be Goguen, which centres on the integration of smart contracts. For this, they plan to launch an IELE Virtual Machine. The testnet version of IELE will be running on the Ethereum Mantis client. After that is Basho, which focuses on performance improvements. Voltaire would be the final phase, wherein IOHK will add a treasury system and governance.
Charles Hoskinson has made it clear that the Cardano Shelley update is an important step in Cardano’s grand scheme of things. The goal of Cardano is to create a secure, reliable platform that will span decades, and they have numerous experts working tirelessly towards it. We are living in amazing times indeed!