With year-end fast approaching, this is the opportune time to reflect on the successes of 2023 while preparing for what will come in 2024. The Cardano Summit certainly galvanized not just community support but also interest across different industries. However, the Summit stands as just one of the many activities and projects carried out by the various Cardano Foundation teams. Even in these final months of 2023, we have several exciting updates to share.
The Foundation has released a suite of tools that improve the building experience on Cardano, including Ledger Sync and the Identity Wallet. On the one hand, these address developer and business needs alike, further facilitating the adoption of Cardano for the social and financial systems of tomorrow. On the other, as open source tools, they invite community feedback as well as participation, and we heartily welcome all those interested in contributing. Similarly, both the Cardano Explorer built by the Foundation and the Cardano Academy have a transparency component, serving to deliver formal education and increase knowledge about Cardano and its design decisions.
The Cardano Foundation has long emphasized the importance of accessibility, which in turn makes it easier for everyone to build on Cardano. Earlier this year, we published a report of our activities, outlining a strategy that encompasses three core focus areas: operational resilience, education, and adoption. While many ways exist to nurture these focus areas, the Foundation believes that open source is crucial to all efforts, serving as an enablement vehicle. Indeed, the tools we develop can determine how quickly the community benefits from accessibility. We therefore guide our work by an emphasis on key initiatives.
To begin with, the Foundation understands the importance of attracting start-up-driven innovation, which first and foremost means streamlining the onboarding process. For instance, projects like Aiken, Kupo, and Ogmios have dramatically reduced the time and cost required to build on Cardano. Creating these tools in TypeScript also comes as a strategic move—many in the Web3 ecosystem are moving towards Rust and TypeScript for smart contracts and other software development kits (SDKs). Likewise, in order to further improve access to financial smart contracts, Aiken has recently included support for Marlowe smart contracts.
In addition, the Foundation aims to attract businesses and organizations to Cardano that can derive value from blockchain-based solutions. Given Java remains the predominant language for enterprise developers, offering tools and services in this language is an intentional effort to support adoption. Notably, the Foundation has created Ledger Sync and the Identity Wallet in Java to reduce the associated onboarding time. Ledger Sync provides a Java tool that puts sequential blockchain data in a new, more swiftly accessible database structure, while the Identity Wallet offers a W3C-compatible mobile wallet that manages self-sovereign identities across Cardano and other blockchain networks.
The wallet is designed to support multiple identity and credential standards, integrating key event receipt infrastructure (KERI) for enhanced interoperability which can benefit a wide range of future use cases and enterprise-level solutions. Both the wallet and Ledger Sync are open source tools, and the development team invites contributions from the community and businesses joining the ecosystem.
In line with the open source ethos, the Foundation leveraged Ledger Sync and the Identity Wallet to further deliver the Bolnisi track and trace solution in partnership with Scantrust. The Bolnisi winemakers have already anchored 100,000 bottles of wine on the Cardano blockchain. In fact, this initiative marks a significant milestone in using Web3 technology to validate proof of origin and product authenticity, both welcome improvements in the fight against counterfeit goods worldwide that affects multiple industries. The fashion industry, for example, loses billions annually from counterfeit products, not to mention the reputational damage that can result from fake products. With this in mind, the Cardano Foundation and Merchadise collaboration takes a new approach to licensed intellectual property. NFC chips linked to on-chain records on the Cardano blockchain prove the authenticity of a series of Commemorative Jerseys while simultaneously detailing their characteristics and increasing consumer engagement.
Regardless of the specific use case, enabling a diverse group of businesses to build on Cardano stands as a critical catalyst for improving the adoption and operational resilience of the network. For this to happen, however, businesses as well as individuals need a good understanding of the technology’s potential. Blockchain education plays a key role here. The Foundation has therefore undertaken several education-related initiatives.
The recently open sourced rewards calculation brings the calculation to a broader audience. It not only allows independent auditing of the rewards’ execution but crucially supports education about Cardano’s treasury system, leading to a more transparent process.
In the same vein of transparency, the Cardano Foundation often works with regulators and auditors to exhibit nuances of the proof of stake (PoS) implementation and how this consensus mechanism impacts end users. Indeed, the Cardano Explorer has become pivotal in explaining how Cardano’s public infrastructure works. We have frequently received positive feedback from regulators and auditors, highlighting how the explorer makes blockchain more accessible.
To further improve accessibility, the explorer will continue to enhance visualization for the design decisions and on-chain transactions made on Cardano. In fact, the most recent update contains a new smart contract visualization user interface (UI). Moreover, our teams are already working towards a Voltaire visualization, and we will likewise open source the explorer in the near future. Anyone interested can read the explorer’s latest release notes on GitHub.
In keeping with our mandate to promote decentralized technologies, the Foundation also regularly experiments and tests the capabilities of different options at the vanguard of technology. As such, the Cardano Academy brought in-house subject matter experts and generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools together to create the new batch of educational material.
After the launching of the Alpha Program in the early months of 2023, the Academy will now offer the full units of the Cardano Blockchain Certified Associate (CBCA) course. The in-depth content will introduce students to basic concepts and progressively grow their knowledge so they can develop a wider awareness of various blockchain topics. We hope the course will both promote inclusivity in the blockchain space and foster a deeper awareness of blockchain technology.
Overall, supporting the visualization of complex technologies, topics, and decisions creates an easier, friendly experience that welcomes a wider audience, simultaneously enabling and prompting more people to join the Cardano ecosystem. In fact, accessible tools and educational materials go hand in hand. Together, they result in more diverse contributions, stronger decentralized governance, and more innovative ideas.
In 2024 the Cardano Foundation will improve and expand upon the product portfolio’s capability while listening to feedback in our open source channels. Additionally, we will continue to play an active role in the Voltaire governance era, expand on ways to apply AI to the Academy, and contribute to the new KERI standard, championing this initiative with both partners and the community. Regardless of the product, the Foundation welcomes all willing contributors as we look forward to a fantastic 2024 journey alongside the entire Cardano ecosystem.