Looking back on the Mary hard fork

Looking back on the Mary hard fork

Written by @elliothill of the Cardano Foundation

Just over two weeks ago, the Cardano blockchain transitioned to a new mainnet environment as a result of the Mary hard fork. This momentous event, one of the most important upgrades to the Cardano protocol to date, marked the beginning of a new era of functionality for our blockchain.

Taking place on 1 March 2021 at 21:44:51 UTC, the Mary hard fork went by without so much as a hiccup, facilitated by IOHK’s hard fork combinator. But the hive of activity going on behind the scenes, and indeed still going on, is powering an entirely new phase of native asset functionality on Cardano.

Here, we will look back on some of the events that have followed Mary hard fork, and discover some of the early experiments and innovations that have been powered by Mary.

How many tokens have been created on Cardano?

One of the defining features of the Mary hard fork was the arrival of user-defined native tokens. This represented the first time that assets could be minted and transferred on Cardano and, as you may imagine, this has already led to a flourishing ecosystem of user-created tokens.

In our earlier article anticipating the arrival of Mary, we predicted that it would be an opportunity for our community to unleash their creative potential and entrepreneurial spirit.

Well, we weren’t wrong. In a little over two weeks, more than 1,700 tokens have been minted across both the mainnet and testnet environments. As a community, you have fully embraced the arrival of native tokens on Cardano.

It is still early days, and many tokens being minted are experimental or designed for future use cases with the arrival of more components. However, there are already some interesting tokens being minted by our community.

For example, Spacecoin, minted by community member Kyle Solomon, is a fun and educational token designed to be used within the Cardano ecosystem and beyond. Raising awareness for how tokens work on Cardano, Spacecoin was among the first tokens to be created following the Mary hard fork.

When exploring newly minted Cardano tokens, we can see that many tokens have just a single token output. This could be a sign that many of our early token creators are experimenting with non-fungible token (NFT) creation on Cardano.

Non-fungible tokens on Cardano can also be enhanced through our highly expressive transaction metadata functionality, which allows users to attach unique data to tokens. This would allow users to include descriptive information about an NFT on Cardano.

As many of you may know, although NFTs have been available on other blockchains for some time, they are currently having their renaissance moment—generating huge attention from media outlets worldwide. We are excited to see so many of our community already experimenting with single tokens and NFTs on Cardano, and we would love to hear your thoughts on NFTs and how they could feature in the Cardano ecosystem in the comments section below!

You can track tokens being minted on the Cardano mainnet here.

What are the next steps?

Mary was a huge upgrade to the functionality of the Cardano blockchain, but it was just one piece of the puzzle. So, what’s next? For one, there are many more Goguen components to be released, and many more supporting features we will be exploring in the coming weeks.

To complement our native token environment, the IOHK engineering team is busy building the final architecture for the roll-out of smart contracts on Cardano, powered through the extended UTXO accounting model. You can read more about this in a two-part article series by IOHK technical writer Fernando Sanchez here. You can also now explore the Glow devnet, which will introduce a domain-specific language for decentralized application development.

One of the most important features that the Cardano Foundation will be working on to support our new native token ecosystem is a formal, opt-in register of assets built on Cardano. As anyone can mint a token on Cardano, possibly with the same name as a pre-existing token, an administered register will be instrumental in growing our native asset ecosystem in a fair and equitable manner. We will have more information on this in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, you may want to discover what IOHK’s Chief Scientist, Aggelos Kiayias, has to say about native token transaction costs. In his recent article, Professor Kiayias introduces the concept of ‘Babel fees’, a way of paying transaction fees in the user’s token of choice. Such a mechanism could potentially revolutionize the way tokens are sent and received, by facilitating atomic swap capabilities and allowing stake pool operators to get paid in a token of their choosing.

As discussed by IOHK in mid-February, a token builder will also be rolled out for users who aren’t familiar with the Cardano command line interface (CLI). This will feature a user-friendly UX that enables users to easily mint tokens, alongside an automatic monetary policy generator.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank our community for their involvement with the Mary hard fork, and in the rapid adoption of native tokens on Cardano. We are strengthening our ecosystem everyday.

Keep building!

Read more about the Mary hard fork and native tokens here: