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Cardano Launches Smart Contracts But Now Must Deliver on Ecosystem’s Promise

At long last, Cardano has smart contracts.

Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK), one of three companies backing Cardano, announced the release on Sep. 12 as part of the so-called Alonzo upgrade. The deployment means the end of a long wait — Cardano launched its mainnet four years ago but hasn’t been able to run decentralized apps (dapps) until this upgrade.

Defiers appear to be taking advantage of the new functionality. Developers deployed a reported 23 smart contracts on Cardano in the first ten minutes. There are now more than 100 live contracts on the blockchain, according to Cardano data provider, AdaPools.org.

With an 8% decrease to $2.38 since Alonzo, Cardano’s ADA token’s performance has been lackluster coming out of the launch. Still, the token has gained 1,204% this year, making the last couple of days a blip on the radar for investors who held since January.

Building Experience

With smart contracts enabled, Cardano will be under pressure to foster a robust ecosystem. Pi Lanningham, who serves as the chief information officer at SundaeSwap Labs, a team building a decentralized exchange on Cardano, is enjoying the building experience, albeit there’s been some struggles too.

“We’re consistently impressed with how well thought out the core design and ledger model is, and have found many opportunities that will allow us to build innovative features directly into our protocol,” Lanningham told The Defiant. 

Cardano uses a different model to keep track of funds’ movements than blockchains like Ethereum, and that has introduced novel problems for Lanningham and the SundaeSwap team. “It has felt a little like some of the other ‘frontier’ eras in history: the wild west, the gold rush, early assembly programming,” the developer said.  “By that I mean there’s lots of opportunity for those with the grit to go searching among the rubble, but you better bring your prospecting gear.”

SundaeSwap is set to launch in Q4 of this year, according to their FAQs. With over 141K followers on Twitter, there will be a lot of eyeballs on the DeFi project’s launch.

Token Transfers

Overall, transactions on Cardano have been picking up throughout the year. The blockchain surpassed the one transaction per second mark for the first time on Sep. 3, according to data provider Coin Metrics. Cardano had already enabled transfers of tokens before smart contracts, as well as NFTs which may be driving the increasing transaction count.

Transactions per second on Cardano since mainnet launch.

Ethereum, pictured as the green line below, pushes up against its approximate limit 13 transactions per second limitation on a daily basis.

If Cardano manages to pick up user traction with smart contracts, the blockchain’s transactions per second will continue to increase.

For now, Cardano enthusiasts are stoked that the blockchain can finally host dapps of its own. Tim Harrison, Marketing and Communications Direction at IOHK, tempered the enthusiasm a bit in the company’s post accompanying the Alonzo upgrade, saying “this is where the mission truly begins as we – the community – start delivering on the vision we have all been working towards for so long.”