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Cardano - ADA
Third-generation open-source blockchain platform with proof-of-stake consensus mechanism and deflationary monetary model.
DevelopersCardano Foundation, IOHK, EMURGO
ConsensusProof of Stake
Written inHaskel, Rust
LocationZug, Switzerland

Cardano is an open-source blockchain based on peer-reviewed research and the Haskell coding language with smart contract functionality, the company was founded in 2015 with the network launched in 2017. Ada is the native cryptocurrency of the platform, with the sub-unit Lovelace.


  • Maximum supply 45,000,000,000
  • 1 Ada = 1,000,000 Lovelaces
  • Average slot time 20 sec
  • 1 epoch = 432,000 slots (5 days)


Consensus is the process by which a majority opinion is reached by everyone who is involved in running the blockchain. The agreement must be made on which blocks to produce, which chain to adopt and to determine the single state of the network. The consensus protocol determines how individual nodes assess the current state of the ledger system and reach a consensus. It has three main responsibilities; to perform a leader check and decide if a block should be produced, to handle chain selection, and to verify blocks that are produced. Cardano protocol relies on the Ouroboros consensus protocol, Ouroboros divides time into epochs with an epoch consisting of a number of slots where each slot lasts for one second.

Slot Leader Election

The Cardano network consists of a number of stake pools that control the aggregated stake of their owners and other delegators, also known as stakeholders. Slot leaders are elected randomly from among the stake pools. The more stakes the pool controls, the greater the chance it has of being elected as a slot leader to produce a new block that is accepted into the blockchain. This is the concept of proof-of-stake (PoS).

Slots and Epochs

In any slot, zero or more block-producing nodes might be nominated to be the slot leader. On average, one node is expected to be nominated every 20 seconds, for a total of 21,600 nominations per epoch. If randomly selected slot leaders produce blocks, one of them will be added to the chain. Other candidate blocks will be discarded.


Blockchains create consensus by allowing participants to bundle transactions that others have submitted to the system in blocks, and add them to their chain (sequence of blocks). Determining who is allowed to produce a block when, and what to do in case of conflicts, (such as two participants adding different blocks at the same point of the chain), is the purpose of the different consensus protocols. Cardano's ground-breaking proof-of-stake consensus protocol Ouroboros is proven to have the same security guarantees that proof of work has. Rigorous security guarantees are established by Ouroboros and it was delivered with several peer-reviewed papers that were presented in top-tier conferences and publications in the area of cybersecurity and cryptography. Different implementations of Ouroboros have been developed.

Djed Stablecoin

A crypto-backed algorithmic stablecoin that is developed by IOG and powered by COTI.Djed uses smart contracts to ensure price stabilization, and the coin will be useful for DeFi operations. It operates by keeping a reserve of base coins, and minting and burning stablecoins and reserve coins.



Ouroboros is the first provably secure proof-of-stake protocol, and the first blockchain protocol to be based on peer-reviewed research. Ouroboros combines unique technology and mathematically-verified mechanisms - which, in turn, combine behavioral psychology and economic philosophy - to ensure the security and sustainability of the blockchains that depend upon it. The result is a protocol with proven security guarantees able to facilitate the propagation of global, permissionless networks with minimal energy requirements - of which Cardano is the first.



Mithril is a stake-based multi-signature scheme that leverages the existing Cardano network to provide certified snapshots of all or part of the blockchain state. These snapshots can be useful in multiple use cases such as secure voting, data exchange, and synchronization between applications, sidechains, light wallets, etc.

A protocol that allows stakeholders in a Proof-of-Stake blockchain network to individually sign messages that are aggregated into a multi-signature which guarantees that they represent a minimum share of the total stakes.


Hydra is the Layer-2 scalability solution for Cardano, which aims to increase transaction speed through low latency and high throughput and minimize transaction costs. Running a Hydra head means running a Hydra node connected to some other Hydra nodes and connected to a Cardano node. Working is therefore a pre-requisite for running a Hydra head.

Smart Contracts

The Plutus Playground is a code editor and simulator in one.
Marlowe – domain-specific language for smart contracts.


Marlowe offers financial contracts for blockchain that everyone can code. It is a domain-specific language (DSL) for writing and executing financial contracts that allow users to apply their domain expertise to write and manage contracts conveniently, without the steep learning curve associated with software development, blockchain, or smart contracts. With Marlowe, you can learn how to model financial products using this easy-to-learn language. It is a platform for decentralized finance (Defi) that supports direct, peer-to-peer lending, contracts for difference (CFD), and other similar instruments. Marlowe contracts are straightforward as they are optimized for financial transactions, development platforms, and ensure a fast track for financial service providers to build expertise in smart contracts and blockchain technology. Marlowe — a domain-specific language (DSL) for writing and executing financial contracts that allows building contracts visually as well as in more traditional code. Financial institutions can use it to develop and deploy custom instruments for their customers and clients, for example. The Marlowe language itself is now embedded in both JavaScript and Haskell offering a choice of editors depending on developers’ preferences and skillset.


Plutus — a purpose-built smart contract development and execution platform. Plutus contracts consist of parts that run on the blockchain (on-chain code) and parts that run on a user’s machine (off-chain or client code). Plutus draws from modern language research to provide a safe, full-stack programming environment based on Haskell, the leading functional programming language.

Plutus is the native smart contract language for Cardano. It is a Turing-complete language written in Haskell, and Plutus smart contracts are effectively Haskell programs. By using Plutus, you can be confident in the correct execution of your smart contracts. It draws from modern language research to provide a safe, full-stack programming environment based on Haskell, the leading purely-functional programming language.


Cardano's evolution towards a fully decentralized entity The Cardano blockchain has transitioned from a federated system run only by 8 nodes in July 2020, to its present state where block production is fully decentralized. The final part of this transition happened on March 31st, 2021 (D=0 Day), a major milestone in Cardano's journey. As of that date, 100% of block production is the responsibility of stake pool operators (SPOs).

DID - Decentralised Identity

Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) are a new type of identifier for verifiable, decentralized digital identity. These new identifiers are designed to enable the controller of a DID to prove control over it and to be implemented independently of any centralised registry, identity provider, or certificate authority. DIDs are URLs that relate a DID subject to means for trustable interactions with that subject. DIDs resolve to DID Documents — simple documents that describe how to use that specific DID. Each DID Document may express cryptographic material, verification methods, and/or service endpoints. These provide a set of mechanisms that enable a DID controller to prove control of the DID. Service endpoints enable trusted interactions with the DID subject. This document specifies a common data model, format, and operations that all DIDs support.


Atala PRISM is a self-sovereign identity (SSI) platform and service suite for verifiable data and digital identity. Built on Cardano, it offers core infrastructure for issuing DIDs (Decentralized identifiers) and verifiable credentials, alongside tools and frameworks to help expand your ecosystem. One of these products is Atala PRISM – a digital identity platform built on SSI principles, and a service suite for verifiable data and digital identity, built on the Cardano blockchain.


Cardano Improvement Proposal

Cardano Improvement Proposals (CIPs) describe standards, and processes, or provide general guidelines or information to the Cardano Community. It is a formal, technical communication process that exists off-chain. CIPs do not represent a commitment of any form toward existing projects. Rather, they are a collection of sensible and sound solutions to common problems within the Cardano ecosystem. CIPs evolve around different statuses, driven by one or more authors.


Charles Hoskinson – founding member of IOHK
IOHK Summit 2019

The companies behind Cardano crypto network and their relationship to the open-source functions are similar to the how RedHat and the Linux Foundation support the open-sourced software project, Linux.

Cardano is an open platform that seeks to provide economic identity to the billions who lack it by providing decentralized applications to manage identity, value, and governance, Charles Hoskinson

Cardano Foundation

Switzerland-based non-profit is responsible for overseeing the development of the Cardano blockchain and its ecosystem.

Cardano Foundation is an independent Swiss-based non-profit that oversees and supervises the advancement of Cardano. The company is the legal custodian of the Cardano brand that operates with IOHK and EMURGO to ensure that Cardano is being developed and promoted as a secure, transparent, and accountable solution for positive global change. The Cardano Foundation sets the direction for decentralized economic empowerment, working with regulators in different jurisdictions to shape blockchain legislation and commercial standards, and empowering the Cardano community to leverage the Cardano protocol to solve real-life problems.

Growing the Cardano ecosystem is a core priority for the Cardano Foundation. The company facilitates the advancement of the Cardano protocol on the global stage, steering the development of Cardano towards better use cases, investing in people who are passionate about championing blockchain, supporting those who are creating, pushing boundaries, and solving real-world problems with this powerful nascent technology.


A for-profit company that develops enterprise-grade applications, builds developer tools, invests in ecosystem startups, and provides blockchain education. EMURGO is a global blockchain technology company providing solutions for developers, startups, enterprises, and governments. EMURGO develops enterprise-grade applications, builds developer tools, invests in startups, and provides blockchain education.EMURGO leverages its expertise in blockchain R&D as well as its global network of related blockchain and industry partners to support ventures globally.


A for-profit technology research and development company founded in 2015 by Charles Hoskinson and Jeremy Wood. IOHK is one of the world's pre-eminent blockchain infrastructure research and engineering companies. IOHK is a fully decentralized remote working organization committed to the highest principles of academic rigor and evidence-based software development. The company builds high-assurance blockchain infrastructure solutions for public, private sector, and government clients. It is also the driving force behind the decentralized and smart contract platform, Cardano.

Key figures

Charles Hoskinson Founder
David Taylor Head of Marketing
David Jornod Vice President
Frederik Gregaard CEO
Eva Oberholzer Chief Growth Officer & Board Member
Dirk Hohndel Chief Open Source Officer
Duncan Coutts Principal Technical Architect at IO Global
Aggelos Kiayias Chief Science Officert



cFund is an early-stage sector agnostic venture firm in the Blockchain industry anchored by IOHK and managed by Wave Financial. The firm is a dedicated team of investors and entrepreneurs zealous about blockchain technology and digital assets looking to back ambitious founders globally.


Cardano Foundation has raised $62.2M in funding over 4 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Jan 1, 2018 from an Initial Coin Offering round. Cardano was funded through a series of Initial Coin Offering (ICO) token sales to investors. The public sale took place over a pre-launch period of two years from 2015 to 2017. During this time, Cardano distributed vouchers for 25.9 billion ADA in exchange for $79.19 million in funding, while Cardano founders & project entities received 5.19 billion of the initial ADA supply.

Cardano Treasury

Cardano has a treasury system for funding future protocol development. This treasury currently holds ~585 million ADA worth $1.6 billion dollars at current prices, substantial funding to allocate towards accelerating Cardano growth. The treasury is managed by the Cardano Foundation today, but the project’s roadmap has plans to hand control over treasury decisions to the community following the Voltaire network upgrade—turning Cardano into a fully self-governing Distributed Autonomous Organization (DAO).


  • Alpha Sigma Capital
  • BlocTech Investment Group
  • Cognitive Blockchain Capital
  • Emurgo



  • University of Edinburg
  • University of Wyoming
  • U.S. Ivy League university Stanford
  • The University of Zurich
  • University of Athens and Tokyo
  • Carnegie Mellon University


  • Linux Foundation
  • Cardano Foundation joins The Linux Foundation as a Gold Member
  • COTI
  • AID:tech


  • Georgian
  • Ethiopian