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Investing In Cardano (ADA) – Everything You Need to Know

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Since its launch in 2017, Cardano (ADA) has emerged as a significant player in the blockchain arena, offering a compelling alternative to Ethereum's established platform.  Cardano distinguishes itself from its competitors as a research-driven, open-source blockchain through a stated commitment to scientific philosophy and a high-assurance development approach.  Like most of the projects it competes with, Cardano is not just a cryptocurrency but a comprehensive ecosystem designed to enable complex programmable transfers of value in a secure and scalable fashion.

How Does Cardano (ADA) Work?

Cardano (ADA) was built from the ground up to address the perceived shortcomings of earlier blockchain systems like Ethereum and Bitcoin.  To this say, it aims to provide a more balanced and sustainable ecosystem for cryptocurrencies and decentralized applications (DApps).  To understand how Cardano works, looking deeper into its unique multi-layer architecture, consensus mechanism, and the principles guiding its development is essential.

Multi-Layer Architecture

Notably, Cardano utilizes a two-tiered structure, which separates the ledger of account values from the reason why values are moved from one account to another.  This bifurcation is made possible through the Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL) and the Cardano Computation Layer (CCL).

  • Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL): The CSL acts as the balance ledger and is where all transactions involving ADA, Cardano's native cryptocurrency, are directly recorded.  This layer is optimized for high-throughput, secure transactions and is the backbone for transferring value across the network.
  • Cardano Computation Layer (CCL): The CCL is where all the computational magic happens, including executing smart contracts and DApps. This programmable layer can be adapted to meet the regulatory requirements of various industries, making Cardano a flexible platform for a wide range of applications.

The separation of these layers allows for more nuanced changes to be made to the smart contract and DApp execution rules without affecting the underlying ledger, enhancing the platform's adaptability and resilience.

Ouroboros Consensus Mechanism

At the core of Cardano's operation is Ouroboros – a proof-of-stake (PoS) protocol that ensures the integrity and security of the blockchain.

Ouroboros works by dividing time into epochs and slots, where epochs are fixed periods, and slots are shorter intervals within epochs.  A slot leader is chosen in each slot based on the amount of ADA they have staked in the network.  These slot leaders are responsible for adding blocks to the blockchain and are rewarded with ADA for their contributions.

Ouroboros is often touted as the first PoS protocol that has been mathematically proven to be secure, with some claiming that design as allowing Cardano to achieve similar levels of security to those of Bitcoin's proof-of-work (PoW) system but with a fraction of the energy expenditure.  This approach not only makes Cardano more environmentally friendly but also allows for greater scalability and faster transaction processing times compared to PoW blockchains.

Scalability, Interoperability, and Sustainability

As mentioned, a main draw of the Cardano network is the ability of its architecture and consensus mechanism to facilitate scalability, interoperability, and sustainability.

  • Scalability: Cardano addresses scalability through its layered architecture, allowing for improvements in transaction speed and data storage without compromising security.  Ouroboros also supports the creation of sidechains, which are parallel blockchains that can offload work from the main chain, further enhancing scalability.
  • Interoperability: Cardano is designed to enable cross-chain transfers, allowing for seamless transactions between different cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms.  This capability is crucial for the long-term viability and adoption of blockchain technology, as it paves the way for a more interconnected and efficient global blockchain ecosystem.
  • Sustainability: Cardano's sustainability is ensured through a treasury system, which collects a fraction of all transaction fees.  These funds are then made available for projects aimed at improving the network, as decided by ADA holders through a democratic voting process.  This self-funding mechanism ensures that Cardano can continue to evolve and adapt to new challenges over time.

Working in tandem, this trio of attributes is a primary reason Cardano has become a mainstay within the digital asset market.

Smart Contracts and DApps Development

Cardano's approach to smart contracts and DApps development typically emphasizes security and robustness.  The platform supports Plutus, a purpose-built smart contract development language that enables the creation of high-assurance applications.  Plutus contracts are written in Haskell, a functional programming language known for its expressivity and safety features.  This choice is often noted as reflecting Cardano's scientific and research-driven philosophy, aiming to reduce the risk of vulnerabilities and errors in smart contracts.

Furthermore, Cardano's Marlowe language offers domain-specific capabilities for financial contracts, making it accessible for non-programmers to create and execute financial instruments on the blockchain.  This inclusivity broadens Cardano's appeal and utility, promising to bring blockchain technology to a wider audience.

What is ADA?

ADA is the native utility token of the Cardano network.  It facilitates transactions and smart contract executions on the Cardano network.  It's akin to Ethereum's gas but with the added functionality of enabling stakeholders to participate in the network's governance through staking and delegation.

Economic Incentives and Network Efficiency

The PoS model employed by Cardano not only reduces the environmental impact but also provides economic incentives for ADA holders.  By staking ADA, holders can participate in the network's operation, securing the blockchain and validating transactions while earning rewards.

History of the Cardano (ADA) Network

The history of the Cardano network is fascinating, highlighting the evolution of blockchain technology toward more secure, scalable, and sustainable platforms.  Founded by Charles Hoskinson, one of the co-founders of Ethereum, Cardano represents a shift towards a research-driven approach in the blockchain space.  Its appeal is typically founded on development and growth, reflecting a commitment to scientific rigor, peer-reviewed research, and high-assurance programming.

Foundations and Philosophical Underpinnings

  • Founding Vision: Charles Hoskinson's vision for Cardano was to create a blockchain platform that would surpass existing networks' limitations by emphasizing interoperability, sustainability, and scalability.  After leaving Ethereum due to differing views on the project's direction, particularly regarding adopting a non-profit model versus a for-profit model, Hoskinson aimed to build a blockchain that would serve as a more balanced and sustainable ecosystem for cryptocurrencies and decentralized applications.
  • Research-First Approach: Unlike many blockchain projects that followed a more traditional software development approach, Cardano set itself apart by adopting a research-first methodology.  This entailed assembling a global team of academics and engineers to rigorously analyze, design, and test every aspect of the platform before implementation.  This process led to the creation of a strong foundation of peer-reviewed papers underpinning Cardano's architecture and protocols.

Development Milestones

  • Early Stages and Funding: Cardano's development officially began in 2015 under the guidance of IOHK (Input Output Hong Kong), a technology company co-founded by Hoskinson. The project was funded through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) between September and January 2017, raising significant capital to support its ambitious development goals.
  • Byron – The Foundation: The first version of Cardano, known as the Byron era, was launched in September 2017.  This phase focused on establishing the basic functionalities of the Cardano blockchain, such as ADA transactions and wallet support. It laid the groundwork for the sophisticated features that would be introduced in later updates.
  • Shelley – Decentralization: The Shelley era, which began rolling out in 2020, marked a significant milestone towards the decentralization of Cardano.  This phase introduced the Ouroboros Praos consensus mechanism, staking, and delegation features, allowing ADA holders to participate directly in the network's security and governance.  Shelley represented a crucial step in Cardano's evolution, transitioning the network towards a fully decentralized and community-run ecosystem.
  • Goguen – Smart Contracts: Following Shelley, the Goguen era brought about the integration of smart contract functionalities into Cardano, enabling developers to build decentralized applications on the platform.  This phase was characterized by introducing Plutus and Marlowe, languages designed for creating secure and powerful smart contracts and financial agreements on the Cardano blockchain.
  • Basho and Voltaire – Scaling and Governance: The roadmap for Cardano also includes the Basho and Voltaire eras, focusing on scaling solutions and a self-sustaining governance model, respectively.  These future phases aim to enhance the network's capacity and introduce a treasury system to fund ongoing development, ensuring Cardano's long-term growth and stability.

Impact and Adoption

Cardano's methodical and phased development approach has garnered attention and respect within the crypto community and beyond.  Its commitment to peer-reviewed research and formal methods in software development has set new standards in the blockchain industry.  As Cardano continues to evolve, its growing ecosystem of decentralized applications, financial instruments, and community-driven projects reflects the network's potential to impact various sectors, including finance, healthcare, and education.

How to Buy Cardano (ADA)

Cardano (ADA) is currently available for purchase on the following exchanges.

Uphold – This is one of the top exchanges for United States & UK residents that offers a wide range of cryptocurrencies. They also offer Cardano staking. Germany & Netherlands are prohibited.

Paybis is a truly global company offering services to residents from 180+ countries, including Canada, Europe, UK, & USA.

Kraken – Founded in 2011, Kraken is one of the most trusted names in the industry with over 9,000,000 users, and over $207 billion in quarterly trading volume.

WazirX – This exchange is part of the Binance Group, which ensures a high standard of quality.  It is the best exchange for residents of India.

Uphold Disclaimer: Terms Apply. Cryptoassets are highly volatile. Your capital is at risk. Don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high-risk investment, and you should not expect to be protected if something goes wrong.

How to Store Cardano (ADA)

Like most digital assets, various services support storing Cardano (ADA)—these range from exchanges to non-custodial software wallets and hardware wallets.

The phrase ‘not your keys, not your coin' also rings true for Cardano (ADA), and for those who prioritize the safety of their holdings, opting for a hardware wallet or at least a non-custodial software variant is recommended.

Cardano (ADA) – A Comprehensive Ecosystem

Overall, Cardano (ADA) continues to represent a significant advancement in blockchain technology, with its multi-layer architecture, innovative consensus mechanism, and commitment to sustainability setting it apart from existing platforms.  By addressing the critical challenges of scalability, interoperability, and sustainability, Cardano is not just a cryptocurrency but a comprehensive ecosystem for the development and execution of decentralized applications and systems.

As Cardano continues to evolve, it stands to play a pivotal role in the future of blockchain technology, offering a more efficient, secure, and sustainable framework for digital transactions and programmable contracts.

Daniel is a big proponent of how blockchain will eventually disrupt big finance. He breathes technology and lives to try new gadgets.