A Dummies Guide 2. ITN to Shelley Mainnet

Testnet, Testnet Wallets, Snapshot, Mainnet Wallets, Real Rewards…

Welcome back to another Dummies Guide in understanding the next stages to the Shelley Main Network release. I received so much great feedback from my initial article A Dummies Guide, that I decided to come back and write another to help the people still confused or nervous about the next few months. This guide is aimed at ada holders participating in the Incentivised Test Network (ITN) and delegating their ada, not for pool operators.

A little bit of a disclaimer – This guide is a compilation of information available to us as of 27th April 2020 – in a simplified – not necessarily technically correct language. There will be further official announcements made at various points to be sure everyone is up to date.

Please follow official updates:

Are you an ada holder, participating in the ITN and confused about the stages to the Shelley main Network? Do you simply want to know what an ada holder has to do, what is legit and how to be aware of scams? Well I hope this article will help answer these questions, give you a better understanding of what is required and equip you with better awareness around scams. Not all information has been finalised or is readily available yet, this article talks about what is known at the time of posting; which should be enough to give people an understanding of what is to come and what to look out for.

Cardano is very quickly coming to the end of its ITN. The ITN is a different blockchain set up to test Shelley, a decentralised blockchain, run by stake pools in a safe environment without using real ada. In addition to providing a platform for pool operators to test, it also allowed participants to earn testnet ada rewards which they redeem for real ada when Shelley is released on the mainnet.

Cardano will go through the following stages, which are written to help the average ada holders get a very basic grip on the process:

On a side note, if you are not currently participating in the ITN and earning rewards, you do not need to do anything, as you have no testnet rewards. However it’s always good to understand the process.

Haskell Test Network

The Haskell Test Network is the final testnet prior to mainnet launch and is split into three stages, none are incentivised, which means no one will earn ada from this testnet.

Stage one: Friends and Family

If you are an ada holder delegating your stake on the ITN you do not need to worry about these first two stages, they are for stake pool operators; I am mentioning them as it doesn’t hurt to have awareness.

IOHK will work with a small group of pool operators to help them set up their stake pools on a new blockchain using the peer reviewed Haskell code.

Stage two: Stake pool Set up

IOHK with the help of pool operators already running stake pools in the Haskell Test Network, will assist all the other pool operators to get an understanding in setting up their new stake pool.

Balance Check

Now this is where ada holders get involved to balance check their rewards, giving them a trial run to make sure they know how to access them when it comes to mainnet.

Hopefully you all remember that IOHK did a trial run of the snapshot and balance check of your ada before the ITN began. This is pretty similar but in reverse, so there will be a snapshot of the ITN rewards at some point in the very near future (date not yet known). It is important to remember and be aware that your testnet ada will not be accessible on the main network, you will only be able to access the rewards you earned on the ITN and use them as you wish.

This stage will involve:


  • Downloading and installing a new balance check wallet client (make sure to only download from official sources)
  • Balance check your rewards using the seed words to the wallet your rewards are in on the ITN.
  • Confirm that your reward balance is the same in both the ITN wallet and the balance check.
  • That is it, you are done! Now all you need to do is wait for Shelley Mainnet to start, you will then restore your ITN wallet again but in the Daedalus mainnet client, and use the rewards how you wish.


  • EMURGO will add a balance check feature to the extension (the plan is to also include balance check on the mobile app)
  • Balance check your rewards using the seed words to the wallet that your rewards are in on the ITN.
  • Confirm your reward balance is the same in both the ITN wallet and balance check.
  • That is it, you are done! Now all you need to do is wait for Shelley Mainnet to start, you will then restore your ITN wallet again but in Yoroi mainnet and use the rewards how you wish.

If any bugs or problems are found, this is your opportunity to raise a support ticket via the wallet client to find out what went wrong. Remember to check you are using the seed words for the wallet your rewards are in, this might be different from the wallet used for the snapshot prior to the ITN. If you have more than one wallet earning rewards in the ITN, you will need to know the seed words for each and restore them.

Moving over to the mainnet

Once everyone is happy with the Haskell testnet, we will finally move to the Mainnet and everyone will be able to delegate their ada to a stake pool – The testnets will be no more, as an ada holder you will be able to remove any Shelley testnet wallet clients you were using.

Wallet address updates

Everyone on the main Cardano blockchain are currently using the Byron wallets. These wallet do not have the functions to delegate ada or vote when the governance era begins. Before I explain how each wallet client will be updated in simple terms, please note that there is no time limit for this. As long as you have your seed words you will never lose your ada. If you do not upgrade it simply means you cannot delegate to a pool or vote, but you will always be able to access your funds.


Recently IOHK released Daedalus Mainnet Verson 1.0.0 – This is the new Byron reboot client and will be used from now on. At the moment any new wallets created are still the old Byron wallets. Soon IOHK will activate the Bech32 wallets in Daedalus. This will mean that every new wallet created from that point on will be Shelley compatible wallets with the ability to delegate and vote. So if you have a wallet in Daedalus then It’s one of the old Byron wallets. You will simply need to create a new wallet and send your funds there.

Paper wallet within Daedalus

If you currently have a paper wallet and wish to continue using a paper wallet, that is fine. Again – There is no time limit to upgrade. As long as you have the seed words you will never lose your ada. When IOHK switch Daedalus to the Bech32 Shelley compatible wallets, you will simply need to restore your Byron paper wallet into Daedalus (as there is no function to send funds from a paper wallet). Then create a new Shelley compatible paper wallet and send your funds there. This will give you the ability to cold stake and vote when it’s available.


Yoroi will be an internal update, you will not be required to make a new wallet or send your assets anywhere. EMURGO will simply release an update which may be automatic without you even realising. At most, you will have to agree or confirm the update. Paper wallets will be similar to the Daedalus paper wallets detailed above, but in Yoroi.

Hardware wallets

If you have a hardware wallet, like Ledger or Trezor, this will be a software update done internally. You will not be required to make a new wallet or send your assets anywhere. Once updated you will be able to delegate to a stake pool from your hardware wallet using a client which supports hardware wallets, like Yoroi and vote when possible. The intention is for cold staking via hardware wallets to be available as close to the start as possible, but there is a chance this will come a short time after staking on mainnet begins.

Third Party Wallets and Exchanges

Many Third party wallets and exchanges are looking to support staking; however, these are third party so I am unable to comment on time frames or how updates or staking will be done. Please contact the exchange or third party wallet for further information.

Side note

This process will be kept as simple as possible for ada holders. IOHK will create video and written content going into all the detail required at each stage. This article is simply created to give you an understanding of what’s to come, so you are less likely to fall victim to people with malicious intentions. Remember to follow the links above for all official information; it is always best to learn direct from source.

As we transition from the ITN to Shelley mainnet, it requires ada holders to physically do something, all touched on above. Criminals will use this period of time to prey on peoples vulnerabilities and lack of understanding to try and steal assets. Even if you are a very switched on person with a lot of knowledge and experience online and in the crypto space, it is always good to refresh your safety awareness – we are all at risk of being scammed, no one is immune.

Please click here to continue reading about Safety and Scam Awareness.


It’s very helpful, very clear, detailed and simple. Like it and thank you! :slight_smile:

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@Lgbeano compliments and thnx! I think this dummie understands the most you wrote. I m happy that i have my ada in yoroi, the transition seems to be very easy with this wallet. As everyone, i am very curious if the mainnet will come before the summer, and what the mainnet will do for as well the adoption off cardano as wel the price off ada in the first months after launching … we will see and hope the best!

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Yeah this is good stuff Luke

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brevity is a mark of genius. Thank you for this helpful guide for both dummies and braniacs alike.


Thank you for the kind words. Hope no one takes offence to the term dummies. I started these as I class myself as that average end user. I have no knowledge of coding or the technical side. My carer has had nothing to do with IT. It took me a long time to understand Cardano the way I do now.

I use my understanding of it and hopefully able to explain things in a very untechnical way.


Very well explainded in simple words :clap:. We need more articles like this. I will explain it to my delegators. Greetings from CASP - stake pool operator