The Cardano Foundation 2020: the year to date
(Written by @ElliotHill of the Cardano Foundation)
As we pass the halfway point for 2020, it is a good time to reflect on our achievements and progress for the year to date. There is no doubt that 2020 has been an unorthodox year. In just six months, the world has undergone an unprecedented change, which once again highlights the need for the decentralization of our financial infrastructure and the potential of blockchain technology.
Nevertheless, despite worldwide uncertainty, the Cardano Foundation has remained steadfast in its mission of growing the Cardano ecosystem and making better possible through blockchain.
In March, the Cardano Foundation, EMURGO, and IOHK met in London for a three-day design shop to discuss the future of the protocol, a future where every ecosystem participant will coalesce and contribute to the overall vision of Cardano.
We concluded the first half of 2020 in style with the Cardano Virtual Summit: Shelley Edition, a celebration of all things blockchain technology—made good by Cardano. We are now pleased to welcome you once more as we share the key highlights of Q1 and Q2 2020 with our community.
In January, the Cardano Foundation attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2020 in Davos, Switzerland, for the second year running.
Representatives of Cardano took part in discussions with leaders and regulators from around the world, sharing the virtues of blockchain for governance, institutional use, enterprise, and the evolution of financial markets.
Davos led to several key developments for Cardano’s enterprise adoption mission, which included a proof-of-concept integration with ScanTrust, a connected goods tracking platform; and the innovative deployment of a world’s first ada-denominated investment asset class in association with GenTwo, a Swiss asset securitization expert.
The Cardano Foundation also explored possible collaborations with smart contract era launch partners, such as DUST Identity, a blockchain-based solution for linking physical items with digital records; livestock investment platform Finka; and US-based energy decentralization platform LO3.
Our latest enterprise outreach is an official partnership with Swiss fintech firm Lykke Corp, which specializes in blockchain-based financial services. Lykke will be utilizing Cardano’s blockchain technology to develop better-organized trading facility (OTF) capabilities and deliver a new framework of products and financial services. You can read our official partnership press release here.
Davos was similarly important for the Cardano Foundation’s mission of shaping legislative guidelines around blockchain technology. Cardano’s representatives met with regulators from across the globe and participated in thought-leading discussions such as ‘Blockchain for Social Good’, and a panel on privacy in the crypto world, which featured blockchain proponents and detractors alike—such as economist Nouriel Roubini. You can read our ‘Cardano rocks in Davos’ recap of the event here.
In June, the Cardano Foundation’s Chairperson Nathan Kaiser and General Secretary Hinrich Pfeifer joint-published an op-ed in one of London’s leading financial newspapers, City A.M., discussing the importance of actively participating in the regulatory landscapes of both the EU and the U.S.
The op-ed, entitled ‘Showing up, taking part and driving conversations is vital’, outlined the Cardano Foundation’s role in working with—rather than against—regulators for the adoption of blockchain technology in enterprise, institutions, and government.
The Cardano Foundation was also pleased to support the establishment of SANBA, a new blockchain alliance aimed at catalyzing the growth and formalizing the governance of distributed ledger technology within South Africa.
Education and research
In January, the Cardano Foundation signed a Letter of Intent with Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for a blockchain research grant approval.
Formalized during the WEF 2020 at Davos, the Cardano Foundation will be providing funding to leading cryptography academics at Harvard to study aspects of blockchain governance.
Self-sustaining blockchain governance will be a key part of the Voltaire phase of Cardano’s development, which focuses on voting, treasury systems, and a truly distributed network—designed to push power to the edges.
The conclusion of Project Renovare will culminate in a fresh look for the Cardano Foundation, with a new website and updated branding across our online and offline communications.
The Cardano.org website has also received a significant brand reappraisal, which reflects our new focus on attracting enterprises, institutions, and government bodies to build and deploy solutions on Cardano.
Project Renovare was an exercise in assessing new possibilities and promoting the readiness of the Cardano blockchain, as it matures and increases in functionality—in other words, a visual declaration that Cardano is open for business.
We are always looking for ways to give back to our community, most recently with the rollout of Phase 2 (Rewards) of the Ambassador Program.
Launched in April 2020, the rewards phase recognizes those ambassadors who make outstanding contributions to the Cardano community, with rewards paid in ada for ongoing participation and growth of Cardano’s international presence.
If you are active in the community and want to get involved in our flagship Ambassador Program, then watch the video below for more information:
Launch of request for proposals (RFP) scheme
In order to grow the Cardano ecosystem, we need to encourage developers to build solutions and applications. A common way to do this is to launch an RFP scheme, which the Cardano Foundation trialed in May, with calls for a new stake pool dashboard and monitoring tools.
We were overwhelmed with the response, choosing to grant five proposals, funded at US$1,000 per month for three months, rather than the original three proposals. You can discover these proposals here.
Building on this success, we have now announced a second RFP aimed at additional smart contract programming languages, and we intend to formalize our RFP process in the future as we grow.
Launch of Cardano improvement proposal (CIP) framework
The CIP framework is one of the most significant achievements of the Cardano Foundation in the first half of 2020. Improvement proposal frameworks are a common way of enabling formal communication and collaboration across blockchain dev teams and the community, and the Cardano Foundation is delighted to bring this feature to Cardano.
A link between the Cardano blockchain and our community, CIPs are formalized documents that provide information about the Cardano protocol, describe new features and processes, and contain technical specifications for proposed changes to Cardano.
CIPs could be described as a catalog of solutions to existing problems, or solutions to issues that may arise as the Cardano ecosystem grows. CIPs can also be used to suggest technical solutions, or explain the rationale and motivation behind such solutions.
Most importantly, CIPs enable community members to participate in the development of the protocol, without having to participate in on-chain governance or voting.
Expanding our talent
Like last year, the Cardano Foundation’s team has continued to grow steadily, and we have welcomed another seven team members since our last update. The Foundation now has multilingual* global talent distributed across 21 locations in 15 countries, with 22 different nationalities.
The latest additions to our team include Maryam Mahjoub as Marketing Manager, Mel McCann as Platform Integrations Engineer, Jeremy Firster as Project Manager, John MacPherson as Exchange Relationships Manager, Victor Alagbe and Elliot Hill as Copywriters for both our Marketing and Communications departments, and Nazim Faour as a Technical Writer to assist with Cardano developer documentation.
Brief outlook for the remainder of 2020
Everything the Cardano Foundation does contributes to one of our five missions, which helps to frame our progress and define our path for the future.
As part of our commitment to blockchain education, the Cardano Foundation has recently committed to donating US$2,500 in ada to the Trust graphic novel—a story of a young Kenyan woman who transforms her community, Wahengaland, with blockchain. The novel, which will be published in 2021, will educate young people across the African continent and beyond on the importance of decentralized financial infrastructure. The Cardano Foundation will continue and expand its educational and entrepreneurial efforts on the African continent.
Looking ahead, we will be driving engagement with the delivery of Shelley through a series of articles and engaging visual media, designed to help Cardano stakeholders of every level understand and engage with the exciting new features Shelley will bring.
These will include high-level overviews of Shelley itself, as well as discovering the benefits of becoming a stake pool operator, and a deep dive into how the Cardano blockchain reaches consensus—so keep an eye out for these as we publish and upload them.
Of course, the Cardano Foundation is continuing to increase its talent pool. We currently have open positions for a Digital Marketing Specialist and a Technical Project Manager. If you are a community member looking to take on a new challenge and you would be a perfect fit for any of these roles, we encourage you to apply.
As we navigate through the remainder of 2020 and move into an exciting time for Cardano, the Cardano Foundation invites our community to stay up to date with our progress through following our Cardano Forum updates, the Foundation’s news section, and the Cardano.org website.
We wish our community continued good health and prosperity throughout 2020 and beyond.
*The Cardano Foundation’s team includes speakers of 22 languages: Afrikaans, Arabic, Dutch, English, Farsi, Flemish, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Kazakh, Korean, Kyrgyz, Mandarin, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Uzbek and Yoruba.