The year is no longer new as two months have gone by so quickly. But it feels like yesterday when we bid farewell to 2022, a year that saw the cryptocurrency market undergo extreme turmoils, including the Terra/Three Arrows Capital/FTX “black swan” incidents, we can’t help but wonder what “hidden gems” lie ahead for Cardano in this new year.
The past is a prologue to the future.
As a veteran blockchain project, Cardano withstood the bull and bear tests in the cryptocurrency world in 2022. Despite the chaos and collapse of many giants in the crypto world, Cardano remained steadfast and weathered yet another bull and bear test.
Looking ahead to 2023, we’ll take stock of the key milestones and potential trends along Cardano’s development path, and explore the crucial year of ecosystem development for Cardano. We are excited to see what the future holds for this veteran blockchain project.
The Vasil hard fork upgrade
The biggest milestone event on Cardano’s development path in 2022 was undoubtedly the Vasil hard fork on September 23rd.
This hard fork upgrade involved significant improvements to Cardano’s custom smart contract language Plutus, marking the project’s complete transition from a traditional public blockchain to a smart contract public blockchain. This lays the groundwork for the growth of new DApps, new users, and ultimately Cardano’s TVL.
The main upgrade contents include:
CIP 31 introduces a new reference input to access information stored on the Cardano blockchain, allowing anyone to look up outputs without having to process them;
- CIP-32 proposes a solution that allows data itself to be attached to outputs instead of just data hashes, making it easier for users to communicate data values between each other;
- CIP-33 introduces the ability to reference scripts without including them in every transaction, greatly reducing the impact of scripts on transaction size.
In summary, Vasil’s hard fork upgrade aims to enable the Cardano blockchain to do more and do it better, significantly improving network speed and scalability, enabling support for more complex DApps with a better user experience.
This truly builds an intelligent contract platform, opens up the narrative space for the “smart contract platform” of Cardano’s second half, and lays the foundation for the growth of new DApps, new users, and ultimately Cardano’s ecosystem TVL.
The DApp ecosystem matrix taking shape
Since Cardano entered the era of smart contracts in September last year, the infrastructure of the Cardano ecosystem has been gradually improving in recent months, attracting attention and inflows of market capital, and the vision of building an intelligent contract platform is slowly unfolding.
As of now, nearly half a year has passed, and Cardano has gradually formed an ecosystem pattern dominated by DEX and NFT projects. Various types of applications such as DEX, launchpad, stablecoin, and other DeFi fields have also emerged, and Cardano’s DApp ecosystem matrix is beginning to take shape.
Indigo Protocol: a synthetic asset protocol
As early as 2021, with the rapid advancement of the Ethereum DeFi concept, the derivatives track (futures, options, synthetic assets, etc.) was once regarded as the most promising future sector. However, two years have passed, and the performance of the derivatives track has been mediocre.
However, in 2021, Mirror, with the rise of the Terra ecosystem, to some extent, demonstrated the relative advantages of high-performance public chains in the synthetic asset track. This is a natural plus for Cardano:
- On the one hand, with the performance and cost advantages of Cardano, many of the use cases that are limited by Ethereum mainnet can be gradually implemented on the ground.
- On the other hand, Cardano’s total market value is still as high as 13.7 billion US dollars (CoinGecko data as of February 22), second only to Bitcoin, Ethereum, BNB, and XRP in the non-stablecoin rankings. This means that as the underlying asset, ADA can provide sufficient volume support for the synthetic asset ecosystem
In November 2021, the Indigo Protocol, a synthetic asset protocol in the Cardano ecosystem, launched its stablecoin iUSD, allowing users to mint stablecoins by staking ADA.
And in just the past month, the Indigo Protocol has experienced a whopping 50% growth, making it the third-largest DeFi protocol on Cardano in terms of TVL (nearly $20 million). The synthetic asset race in the Cardano ecosystem is picking up steam, and it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on whether it will kick off another “DeFi summer” for Cardano in the market.
Collateralized stablecoin Djed
Stablecoins have entered a new phase of development after experiencing crazy growth in 2020 and 2021 and well proved its stability in 2022. In the future, stablecoins will play an even more important role in the deep binding use of the crypto world as well as in the process of cross-border payments that break geolocational boundaries.
As the “elephant in the room,” if Cardano wants to go further in the competition of public chain ecology, strengthening its stablecoin matrix is an essential factor that cannot be avoided.
Djed, as an overcollateralized stablecoin anchored to the US dollar in the Cardano ecosystem, assumes this critical role. It was developed in collaboration with blockchain company Coti and Cardano’s chief developer Input Output for over a year and can be minted with a collateral ratio of 400% to 800% using ADA.
Currently, Djed has been officially launched on the mainnet in January and has received support from MinSwap, Wingriders, and MuesliSwap. It is also gradually integrating with more Cardano ecosystem projects.
These moves show that Djed has built a series of scenarios oriented towards the demand for stablecoin use from the very beginning. It has created an innovative path of “stablecoin + scenario” for the entire Cardano ecosystem.
If Cardano can gradually build its own composable ecology based on ADA on a series of tracks (e.g., DEX, derivatives) and ultimately focus on the core scenarios of the ecology to the demand for stablecoins. In the long run, it will deepen the robustness of the ecosystem step by step, and eventually move towards a relatively healthy and positive stable feedback loop.
Anchored stablecoin BUSD
In addition, the recent incidents of BUSD and other stablecoins suggest that the stablecoin competition in 2023 may face a “strong regulatory” normalcy, where compliance overwhelms everything.
Cardano’s commercial incubator EMURGO has also made preparations for this tightening- planning to launch a fully regulated overcollateralized stablecoin, USDA, that is completely backed by legal currency in early 2023.
Overall, according to the future ecosystem map previously released by the Cardano community, there are project teams deploying in multiple sectors such as lending, wallets, and NFT. The multiple deployments of stablecoins in different aspects deserve special attention in 2023.
Cardano’s NFTs: Accelerating Ahead
One trend worth noting in Cardano’s ecosystem in 2022 is the accelerating growth of the NFT track. In September 2022, following the Vasil upgrade, Cardano’s NFT trading volume reached $19 million, second only to Ethereum and Solana, making it the third-largest NFT network.
This trend has since been further consolidated. According to CryptoSlam’s latest data, Cardano’s activity has increased significantly since the major Vasil upgrade in September, with NFT daily trading volume averaging around $250,000 in recent times.
At the micro-level, the rising trend of specific NFT projects on Cardano’s network is evident. The Clay Nation NFT series is the most typical example: as a clay animation art and culture project built on Cardano acquired by Snoop Dog, it has received increasing attention since the release of the related MV produced by Snoop Dog and his son Champ Medici.
At the same time, the top three NFT series on Cardano have accumulated trading volumes of more than $20 million, providing a solid foundation for nurturing high-quality IPs and explosive hits.
The most crucial aspect of NFT projects to be successful is their brand awareness and the community consensus they build. With the community consciousness laid in 2022, can Cardano’s NFT segment gradually establish a strong community with an open culture? Is it capable of building IPs with enormous commercial value like BAYC in 2023?
The potential opportunities and dividends are worth long-term attention.
Provide industry-standard metrics for crypto decentralization
Moreover, in terms of the crypto industry standard metrics, Input Output Global (IOG) — one of Cardano’s builders, has also partnered with the University of Edinburgh in the UK to develop the first “Edinburgh Decentralization Index” (EDI) for the blockchain industry. The index aims to measure the effectiveness of decentralization in the blockchain and to increase transparency and inclusivity across the entire decentralized technology field.
The index will evaluate the degree of decentralization of the blockchain-based on several levels, including APIs, consensus methods, hardware, software, networks, tokenomics, management, and validator geographical locations. Undoubtedly, with these strategic moves, Cardano contributes to crypto industry standards.
The collapse of Terra in May 2022 had a significant impact on the stablecoin track, particularly the algorithmic stablecoins. Both the internal and external milieu has profoundly changed. Later, the FTX crisis in November further intensified users’ distrust of centralized exchanges. Market funds started to migrate to on-chain locations, which highlights the importance of on-chain activities.
Throughout these waves of crises, Cardano has been committed to self-development and its vision of “Making the world work better for all.”
The road ahead is long and challenging, but success is inevitable.