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Cardano is a proof-of-stake blockchain designed for smart contracts and dApps, led by Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson.
Designed to be an Ethereum competitor, Cardano began development in 2015, and launched as a testnet on 29 September 2017. The mainnet, called Goguen is slated for launch in April 2021 which will bring long-awaited smart contract functionality to the platform. Despite its relatively slow development process, Cardano’s native ADA token is one of the most popular coins on the market.
This is our quick guide to just one way to buy ADA. Compare some other options in the table below.
Compare exchanges that sell ADA in the table below on things like payment methods and supported currencies.
Once you purchase ADA, you may want to move it to a wallet to keep it safe.
Cardano offers a purpose-built wallet called Daedalus. It’s a secure multi-function desktop wallet that can be exported to a paper wallet for extra security. Currently it only supports ADA, but will eventually offer multi-cryptocurrency support.
To make using Daedalus more secure, you may want to use it with a hardware wallet that keeps your private keys secure on a hardware device.
Note: Cardano is still under development. Not all of the features described below are active at the time of writing.
In order to achieve its goal of being the most practical cryptocurrency ever made, Cardano is created from the ground up instead of borrowing features from existing blockchains.
One of the main features of the Cardano system is the multi-layer design:
Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies have all of these functions in one layer. This multi-layer system brings some features that developers may find useful.
These layers are supported by the Cardano treasury, which receives a portion of newly minted ADA and transaction fees.
Cardano uses an entirely new mining algorithm called Ouroboros. According to its developers, it’s the first proof-of-stake mining algorithm that’s been mathematically proven to be secure.
How proof of stake works
Some older cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin use “proof-of-work” mining, in which miners compete to solve problems, produce the next block and win a reward for doing so. By contrast “proof-of-stake” mining works by picking a semi-random stakeholder to solve the next block, with larger stakeholders (contributors with more ADA) more likely to be chosen.
This can potentially offer quicker and cheaper transactions, plus the benefits of being more energy-efficient.
The problem is finding a truly reliable and random way to pick the stakeholder to make a block. According to its developers, Ouroboros solves this problem.
Cardano is entirely open source and patent-free. All its source code is publicly available for scrutiny. People interested in Cardano may find that this not only assists development but also means any problems can be highlighted quickly. It’s also fronted and developed by some publicly accessible and widely known names.
The developers claim that Cardano is purpose-built to be the only cryptocurrency the world needs, offering an exceptional range of features and usefulness. In particular, it’s designed to work well with regulations and to be accessible to almost anyone, with the ability to tweak functionality to suit local laws and regulations.
Despite Cardano’s lofty goals, it faces stiff competition. Since Cardano began in 2015, many new blockchains have come online with similar goals and are already capable of onboarding users while Cardano’s development lags behind by comparison.
The implementation of the Goguen mainnet in 2021 is likely to be a pivotal moment for Cardano, with the addition of smart contracts and dApps giving it a real chance to compete in the now saturated smart contract (base-layer) market.
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