Cardano (ADA) is an up-and-coming cryptocurrency that was launched in October 2017. The coin started off with an ICO and ever since it went public, ADA has quickly risen to the top 10 cryptocurrency coins by market capitalization, surpassing NEO, Monero, and Ethereum Classic.

Cardano (named after influential Renaissance mathematician Gerolamo Cardano) is a blockchain platform that supports smart contracts and functions as a cryptocurrency. It was developed by IOHK, a technology company founded in 2014 by Charles Hoskinson (former Ethereum CEO) and Jeremy Wood. IOHK worked with academic experts from various leading universities to design the platform.

Hoskinson was tired of seeing crypto platforms release badly-written whitepapers with bold claims that ended up being undeliverable after they received lots of funding. He wanted to build an open source, decentralized blockchain using peer-reviewed scientific research to make sure it is secure, flexible, and scalable for use by millions of users.

Cardano Value, Market Cap and Volume

An ICO token sale of ADA ran from September 2015 to January 2017. It was marketed as an “investment to retire on” in the Asian cryptocurrency market. About 95% of the buyers were from Japan, and the remaining 5% were buyers from Korea and China. The Cardano team didn’t open the ICO to the Western market because they believe it is saturated with cryptocoins. Cardano’s ICO raised $62 million USD. The average price paid for 1 ADA was $0.00242 USD.

Cardano has a maximum supply of 45 billion tokens. Roughly 31 billion were sold during the ICO and the remaining 14 billion tokens are being issued through “minting“. As of December 2017, ADA had a market cap of $3,440,211,136 USD and a 24-hour volume of $47,103,700 USD. 1 ADA token was worth $0.132688 USD.

How Cardano Works

Cardano implements an innovative proof-of-stake protocol called Ouroboros that was first described in a white paper by Aggelos Kiayias. The system was built from the ground up using the programming language Haskell, which was chosen because it is similar to math in its approach. Haskell code can be written more precisely, resulting in a reliable and secure platform.

Ouroboros is a crucial part of Cardano. Proof-of-stake protocols are much more energy efficient than the proof-of-work protocol used by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. A proof-of-stake system also enables faster transactions and gives coin holders a say in how the platform evolves.

Ouroboros is the first proof-of-stake system that has been mathematically proven to be provably secure. The level of security demonstrated by the protocol is on par with that of Bitcoin, which has yet to be compromised.
Proof-of-stake algorithms have a history of being unreliable, insecure, and insufficient. Whether or not Ouroboros can successfully buck this trend remains to be seen, but it was the first cryptographic protocol to get reviewed at Crypto 2017, a leading cryptography conference.

Byron and Shelley

Cardano is constructed in layers to keep the system flexible while allowing the addition of advanced functions. The first settlement layer, dubbed “Byron,” is where ADA lives. Cardano is currently in a bootstrap phase as it waits for a wider distribution of coin holders before it switches on full functionality. Ouroboros works, but consensus is limited to private nodes until the system gains momentum, which may take several months.

The next layer, dubbed “Shelley,” is scheduled to be released in mid-2018. In this phase, Cardano will evolve into an independent cryptocurrency with robust features. Shelly will prepare the blockchain for a host of new features, including smart contracts, multiparty computation, side chains, and more. Those features will be added slowly over time.

The Cardano team is also developing its own virtual machine, similar to Ethereum’s EVM, which will become the computation layer where smart contracts live. The platform will feature its own programming language called Plutus, which is based on Haskell. Plutus will facilitate the creation of high-assurance smart contracts. Cardano will also eventually allow users to write DApps in legacy languages like C, Java, and JavaScript.

Cardano vs. Other Cryptocurrencies

Cardano is a next-gen cryptocurrency built on a full-featured platform capable of deploying smart contracts that was designed and developed by a global team of experts and academics with a clear vision of its future. It is unique for a number of reasons:

New consensus algorithm – It represents a new breed of cryptocurrencies that are moving away from the proof-of-work protocol introduced by Bitcoin in favor of proof-of-stake algorithms that are much less resource intensive.

Modular and flexible – It is designed to evolve and grow in multiple layers, while maintaining its users privacy and security.

Smart contracts – It is taking the creation of smart contracts to the next level with Plutus, which is loosely based on Haskell and can be used to build higher-assurance decentralized applications.

Airtight governance – Cardano favors a governance model that allows the community to democratically vote on binding decisions. Its blockchain will include a system to propose and vote on soft and hard forks, and every ADA holder can take part in voting.

Acquiring and Storing Cardano

Cardano can be bought, sold, or traded through various crypto exchanges, including Bittex, Binance, and UPbit. Bitt and Cryptopia are expected to carry the coin soon. Trading pairs currently include BTC and ETC.

ADA will also be available at a network of ATM machines in Japan, starting with five locations and then expanding to 25 ATMs within a year of the coin’s launch.

Before you can use Cardano, you must first download and install Daedalus, the official wallet for the cryptocurrency. Check out this video tutorial if you need help setting up Daedalus. Once you’re set up, you can send and receive Ada, and view a history of all the transactions you have made.

The engineers behind Daedalus plan to add many more features, including support for Bitcoin and Ethereum Classic, a mobile wallet for iOS and Android, a staking feature to enable Cardano holders to participate in block generation, and an app store with community-built applications and support for other cryptocurrencies.

Liquidity of Cardano

Cardano is very liquid and can be traded in BTC or ETC crypto pairs on Bittex. It rose into the top 20 cryptocurrencies by market cap within hours of its release and has consistently featured in the top 10 biggest coins by market value since its launch.

The developers are just getting started and the coin’s valuation is anticipated to rise as they roll out more features in the next two years. Cardano is aiming to become a competitor for BTC and ETH with a middle-ground between anonymity and regulation. It will be interesting to see how the platform evolves in the coming years.

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