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Cardano Ecosystem: The Rise Of A New Era

Cardano is now standing only behind Ethereum and Bitcoin in terms of market cap. Let's learn about Cardano Ecosystem and explore underlying opportunities!
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Duy Nguyen
14 min read
Published Sep 19 2021
Updated Jun 06 2024
cardano ecosystem

Cardano has been under development since 2015 and it was a long journey for both the Cardano community and the Cardano team to realize the vision. Cardano is now standing only behind Ethereum and Bitcoin in terms of market cap.

After the smart contract mainnet of Cardano, hundreds of new startup teams are building Dapps on top of the blockchain, building up the entire crypto megacity.

cardano alonzo
Cardano's Alonzo Smart Contract Mainnet Upgrade.

In this article, there is plenty of useful information about the Cardano ecosystem that you need and some predictions from Coin98 Insights.

Cardano Overview

In short, Cardano is a third-generation blockchain that uses the Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism to build a decentralized world of blockchain. With a scientific approach, Cardano is step-by-step assembling each lego to build a complete blockchain from the ground up.

cardano website
Cardano Website: https://cardano.org

Cardano’s view is to be a platform for developing Decentralized Applications with multi-assets and integration of Smart Contract. As the vision of Cardano is ambitious, the development progress is relatively slow when compared to other existing blockchains.

Key Highlights

Over 70% of the current circulating ADA tokens are staked for validating blocks in ADA pools which is relatively high and makes ADA tokens somewhat scarce.

Numerous Cardano communities and organizations worldwide are supporting the Cardano ecosystem to create profound impacts over the world.

With the most advanced technologies, such as the PoS consensus mechanism and multi-layered solution, Cardano can be scaled sustainably without sacrificing security features.

Project Catalyst, a fund governed by the community, determines important priorities for ecosystem growth. The higher the pierce of ADA, the more funds the treasury will have. Therefore, Cardano has a powerful decentralized launching platform with a governance system for distributing valuable funds. Let's see the active performance of the decentralized fund.

ADA Token

Ticker: ADA.
Blockchain: Cardano.
Consensus: Proof of Stake (PoS).
Algorithm: Ouroboros.
Token Type: Coin.
Smallest unit: 1 Lovelace = 10^-6 ADA.
Max Supply: 45,000,000,000 ADA.
Circulating Supply: 33.63B ADA (75% ò the max supply).
All-time low ATL: $0.017 (October 1st, 2017).
All-time high ATH: $2.96 (September 2nd, 2021).
Exchanges: Binance, Huobi, Kucoin, Gate, Coinbase, etc.
ada token list
Exchange and Wallet Support. Source: Cardians

Cardano blockchain

TPS: 250-1000, can be up to 1 million with Hydra (will be discussed later).
Blocktime: 20s.
Total Tx: 31,696,730 Tx (updated Feb 19th, 2022).
Avg. Tx fee: $0.2.
Total stake pools: 3165 (updated Feb 19th, 2022).

DApps on Cardano

In September 2021, the Cardano team will bring Smart Contracts to Cardano via a hard fork combinator event. To contribute to the Cardano ecosystem, countless prominent Dapps are being built on the blockchain. When being built on the Cardano blockchain, those DApps will inherit every advanced technology feature of the blockchain.

Partners and Backers

cardano organization
Organizations behind Cardano. Source: Cardians

High-profile Investments

In late 2021, Cardano welcomed many high-profile venture capitals joining the ecosystem. It can not be unseen anymore, institutional capital started to notice the fast-growing Cardano ecosystem. The venture capitals will create strong narratives and bring more supporters to make the crypto playground more abundant.

Read more about: Three Arrows Capital and Alameda Research.

Cardano Roadmap

Byro 09/2017: It took 3 years to complete. The Cardano team focused on building infrastructure and academic-based architecture of the core network to have it running. And the Daedalus wallet and Yoroi wallet were integrated into the Cardano blockchain, offering customers to store their ADA tokens. Moreover, ADA was listed on most major exchanges.

Shelly 07/2020: Decentralization is an essential phase of the Cardano blockchain. In this phase, the Cardano community was involved in developing nodes to get ADA rewards from staking in pools. There was also the introduction of the Delegation and Incentive Program.

Goguen 09/2021: Smart Contract allows developers and startups all over the world to scale their ideas on the Cardano blockchain regardless of their programming language. In this long-waiting era, developers can create native tokens, multi-asset ledgers, and even issue stablecoins.

Basho (Now): The Cardano platform will scale up fast. With the help of Hydra, the transaction speed will be up to one million TPS. Metadata and multi-chain will come into action on the Cardano blockchain.

Voltaire: Called the Governance Era. Ada holders will have the right to vote to decide Cardano’s future changes. On-chain governance means that the Cardano blockchain is completely transferred to the ADA-holding community.

⇒ At the moment, we're in the Basho era which focuses on scaling the Cardano blockchain and the ecosystem on top of it. The Cardano team has released a plan consisting of ways to scale the blockchain platform as Cardano users sometimes get frustrated with the blockchain speed.

Sidechains: Milkomeda and IOG's Mamba are the first two sidechains built on Cardano. Milkomeda welcomes many crypto projects to be deployed, including MilkySwap, OccamX, Nomad, etc.
Hydra Heads: This is the key unlock the scalability of Cardano. Stake Pools will be upgraded to process transactions, enhancing the TX speed to millions per second.
Off-chain Computing: On-chain computing requires tons of confirmations and verifications. To faster up the blockchain, off-chain computing is introduced to feed the computing power of the network while maintaining the integrity of the input and output.
advertising
Mithril: Blockchain integrity is very important, handled by Mithril.

All About Cardano Ecosystem

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Non-Fungible Token (NFT) are now the hottest keywords in the crypto space. Hence, for readers, it is almost impossible to keep pace with the current market sentiment. The same story is occurring in the Cardano ecosystem, so we will deliver the landscape of the Cardano ecosystem by category/niche.

From a few to hundreds of Dapps built on top of Cardano, the ecosystem is booming despite the "Ghost Chain" & "Stablecoin" jokes about Cardano and the ADA price.

The Cardano Ecosystem is a massive incentive for the ADA tokens to rise. Many new projects decided to distribute their tokens through the fair-launch program. That basically means ADA holders can delegate tokens in the pools of projects or related partners to earn project tokens with or without ADA rewards.

Community

Cardano is now focusing on developing not only the blockchain ecosystem but also the activities of the Cardano community. The Cardano Foundation has directly funded multiple ambitious projects, and some were proposed on Project Catalyst, which forms the profound influence of Cardano.

To grow the social impact of Cardano, several projects are running in Africa, for example, EMPOWA makes property affordable for everyone, or Grow Your Stake transfers all ADA rewards in staking for supplying sustainable water for underdeveloped communities.

empowa
EMPOWA.

In general, Cardano is appreciated for deploying environmental-friendly projects such as Green Stakepool, or recently OpenLitterMap is an open database based on the Cardano metadata, locating trash and litter.

openlittermap
OpenLitterMap.

Infrastructure

Adapools is a website-based tool for monitoring pools and analyzing data on the Cardano blockchain. ADApools is integrated into Yoroi Wallet and Daedalus Wallet for users’ convenience.

Blockfrost is a web-based platform for providing API services on the Cardano blockchain. It takes away the complexity so that customers can create their own decentralized applications on Cardano.

DEX

Currently, Decentralized Exchange on Cardano is developing at a skyrocketing pace. About 25 DEXs are under the radar, followed closely so as to not miss any sentiment. We can see in the two following detailed infographics about the development stage of DEXs on Cardano.

25 DEX startups is a big number, especially for the new emerging Dapp ecosystem, Cardano. Let's categorize those DEXs by development stage.

Mainnet: SundaeSwap, Muesliswap, ADAX Pro, and Meow Swap.
Testnet: Wingriders, ErgoDEX, MinSwap, and Milkyswap.
To be announced: OccamX, MetaDEX, Cardax, DeFire, Ardana, Genious Yield, YaySwap, PolySwap, Cardswap, CardaSwap, AdaSwap, Maladex, AstroSwap, AcornSwap, VyFinance, Ray Network, and Ravendex.

4 projects mainnet with real trading volume are leading the DEX market. SundaeSwap and Muesliswap are the two noteworthy names since both platforms support many Cardano Native Token pairs (minor projects and memecoin included). On the other hand, ADAX Pro and Meow Swap are supporting a few token pairs, only their native tokens.

According to the social media metric, SundaeSwap is the first leading DEX on Cardano. The platform has gained lots of traction from the community since the beginning. Over the last few months, the DEX was the most expected project to go mainnet, and it was a boom when mainnet, causing massive congestion on the Cardano network. But now, Cardano users can conduct token swaps on the platform without any delay.

⇒ We're still in the early stage of the Cardano ecosystem, many startups are building as fast as possible to go mainnet, which is now a race. In the scope of retail investors, DEXs on Cardano contain the most high-growth investment opportunities since they are now having traction, capital, and liquidity run-through.

Derivative DEX

MatrixSwap is a decentralized multi-chain Perpetual Trading deployed on Cardano, Polkadot, and Polygon. In September 2021, they had an IDO launching the MATRIX token on the Cardstarter platform. Being the only derivative trading platform in the Cardano ecosystem is a highly competitive advantage.

matrixswap
Cardstarter x MatrixSwap

IDO Platform

LaunchPad is an amazing idea for startups in need of funds. Investors can now participate in funding startups so that projects will scale their idea as fast as possible when available funding resources come in. As a result, there is no doubt that LaunchPad will be the main factor in attracting capital for the Cardano ecosystem.

Cardstarter is a decentralized accelerator and swapping platform that is also a launchpad for startup projects. For instance, a high-growth project token after IDO, Oracle Charli3 C3 has been a successful IDO on Cardstarter. At the moment, numerous prominent projects are on the front of Cardstarter ready to be launched.
OccamFi is an IDO platform for projects to raise funds and it is nursing the goal to expand further. The OccamFi team is building a DEX called OccamX on top of Milkomeda, a Layer-2 on Cardano.
TrustPad is a multi-chain fundraising platform for new startups, supporting various blockchains such as Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, Polygon, Polkadot, and Cardano.
Vent Finance is an ideal fundraising platform for startups that has an easy-to-use interface regardless of users’ prior experience in the crypto space.

Oracle

Oracle is an indispensable lego in the Cardano ecosystem. It bridges data of the outside world to the Cardano blockchain in a blink of an eye. There are now 3 great projects developed to be implemented on Cardano.

Charli3 is a decentralized oracle built on Cardano. With an explosive IDO, Charli3 is now an emerging oracle project responsible for gathering real-life data into blockchains via APIs. Currently, on Cardano, Charli3 is the most active oracle player with tens of integration partnerships with other crypto startups.

Ergo is an UTXO-based blockchain built to create secure Smart Contracts in the De-Fi space.

Wolfram Alpha is one of Cardano’s partners. Cardano, Ethereum, and Bitcoin’s data are integrated into Wolfram Alpha computational intelligent engine

Lending/Borrowing

Currently, Lending/Borrowing is a widely used application in the De-Fi world. It provides loans with no middlemen or intermediaries. Moreover, the lending protocol offers users to earn interest with their stablecoins or tokens.

MELD is a non-custodial and banking protocol built for lending/borrowing. Now they are opening Initial Stake Pool Offering (ISPO) for ADA delegation to earn MELD tokens. After the MELD token launch, 300M MELD is being staked on the MELD platform, resulting in the long-term vision of investors for the project.

meld website
MELD's Website.

Liqwid is an open-source and non-custodial interest rate protocol built for Lenders and Borrowers, which was funded by Project Catalyst. The LQ token can be used to provide liquidity on SundaeSwap to earn the SUNDAE token rewards.

liqwid
Liqwid's Website.

Stablecoin

Unlike other blockchains, stablecoins are native tokens issued on the Cardano blockchain, not via Smart Contracts. In the near future, there will be many new types of stablecoins in demand from users in the crypto market.

Stablecoins play an important role in the crypto space because it indicates the money flow of the ecosystem. At present, many asset-backed stablecoins are issued by companies that are unreliable. However, stablecoins that are built on the Cardano platform are fully decentralized.

Djed is the most reputable stablecoin in the Cardano ecosystem, developed by COTI Network & Input/Output Global. It formed integration partnerships with top Cardano protocols such as World Mobile, Wingriders, Paribus, ADAX Pro, etc. The Djed Test is postpone to release in March 2022.
AgeUSD is a stablecoin that is created in a joint partnership of Emurgo, Ergo, and IOHK on top of the Ergo blockchain
Ardana is an AMM DEX focusing on trading stablecoins and it will issue crypto-backed stablecoins dUSD, dEUR, etc.
STASIS along with Occam.Fi started a project to issue a new type of stablecoin on the Cardano blockchain for Europe.
stasis
STASIS's Website.

Payment

COTI is a payment method integrating Cardano Payments into their websites, e-commerces, and mobile payments. Gradually, Cardano is widely accepted in many payment methods throughout the internet.

Wallets

Over 3M million wallets are currently active, which shows the rising demand for storing ADA tokens on the chain. As a result, numerous non-custodial wallets have supported ADA so users can connect to Centralized Exchanges and DeFi applications when the Cardano mainnet is launched.

Daedalus is an open-source wallet for ADA along with Cardano from the beginning. It is built to grow with Cardano so many holders keep their ADA in Daedalus wallet. Currently, Daedalus is the most popular way of storing ADA.

Yoroi Wallet is a light wallet for Cardano. It is designed and engineered by Emurgo and IOHK. Moreover, Yoroi can be installed on many web browsers, iOS and Android for mobile.

GeroWallet is a wallet running on the Cardano blockchain that allows users to trade, stake, leverage synthetic assets, and buy crypto directly with fiat money. In May 2021, GeroWallet had a successful IDO on Cardstarter; the IDO starting price was 0.008$.

cardano ecosystem wallet
Cardano Blockchain Top-tier Wallets. Source: Cardians

NFT

Besides De-Fi is trending now, we’re also witnessing the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) which are catching lots of media and people’s attention. NFT is a decentralized application where people can create unique things. Some but not all prominent NFT projects are as follows:

Bondly Finance is a digital platform offering collectibles for projects, brands, and artists. However, the system was hacked by an unknown party which caused lots of damage and the token price shrank;
ADAZOO is an NFT game;
CNFT is a Cardano NFT marketplace, a place to mint, buy, sell and trade NFTs;
THEOS is a startup company that offers customers to create their own NFT;
ARTANO use the implementation of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to improve and customize NFTs.

The Cardano Ecosystem will be an ideal area for NFT projects to develop and thrive.

Predictions about Cardano Ecosystem's Future

In the foreseeable future, according to Cardano’s roadmap, it will expand as the Gougen era is bringing Smart Contract for Plutus programming language integration. Many new startup projects are ready to board the Cardano Ecosystem.

Smart Contract on Cardano was released, marking the beginning of the entire blockchain ecosystem. Many developers are currently heading to land their ideas on Cardano instead of sheltering on the Ethereum blockchain.
What happened on Ethereum is likely to be the same on Cardano. The DeFi surge is occurring now and Cardano is catching up. On Cardano, a large number of new DeFi projects will be deployed with various applications such as AMM DEXs, Synthetic Assets, Stablecoins, Derivatives, etc.
Catalyst Project is a great idea for decentralized governance. Through the voting mechanism by the Cardano community, it deploys requested funds and support to startup projects in need. In the Catalyst Project Fund5, 70 projects on Cardano are funded with around 33,000 voting wallets.
Cardano communities are around the world, on every continent, and there are hundreds of staking pools that show the presence of Cardano. Particularly in Vietnam, the Cardano community is huge and they are supporting each other to learn and run staking pools.
There are two more eras for Cardano in order to become a fully decentralized network governed by the community. Correspondingly, the Cardano ecosystem will flourish in quantity and quality.

The crypto space in 2021 is still relatively small in comparison to other traditional financial markets such as stocks and gold. Therefore, there is plenty of space for the crypto market and the Cardano ecosystem to grow.

Investment opportunities with Cardano Ecosystem

ADA Token

After a massive bull run in 2021, ADA price is having a huge correction from $2.96 to around $1.

ada investment
Source: Cardians

However, the market cap of ADA is about $90 billion and it’s far lower than Ethereum’s market cap of ~$350 billion. In terms of new blockchain technologies, Cardano has future potential for development, expansion, and opportunities for investors.

Staking ADA

Whenever each epoch is closed and a block is completed, an amount of ADA tokens are rewarded for ADA delegators in those ADA pools. Alternatively, ADA holders can run their own stake pools and invite others to stake their tokens to share the rewards.

Staking supported wallets: Daedalus, Yoroi, and Ray Wallet with an average APR of 5%.

staking ada
Staking ADA on Yoroi Wallet

Initial Stake Pool Offering (ISPO)

Instead of launching an IDO, several projects on Cardano decide to distribute their tokens through the fair-launch program - a new distribution mechanism.

When staking in the project’s pools or partners’ pools, fair-launch participants can still earn ADA rewards and receive token airdrops according to their stake. And the more staked ADA in the pool, the more rewards those pool operators can receive to fund their projects.

ispo project
Available Projects for ISPO

For instance, Minswap launches its Fair Initial Stake Offering (FISO) with over 105 million ADA in partners’ staking pools. FISO program started at epoch 285, and it will end after 20 epochs, then the rewards are distributed to the ADA delegators.

minswap fiso
Minswap FISO

Native Tokens on Cardano

Investing in prominent projects’ tokens is a traditional and effective way for everyone. The landscape of Cardano Native Tokens is getting more and more clear. There are underlying opportunities not only in the token itself but also the trendy DeFi metagame such as Liquidity Mining, Yield Farming, Lending/Borrowing, and Staking to get rewards with decent APYs.

At the moment, thousands of Cardano Native Tokens are listed on DEXs that might be overvalued or undervalued in terms of the price as well as FDV. Since the Cardano ecosystem is rapidly growing, there is much fish in the sea for investors to consider.

IDO

For instance, Cardstarter and OccamFi are the first IDO platforms for Cardano’s startups, but they are now built on the Ethereum blockchain, waiting to deploy on Cardano. In the last few months, they launched Charli3, a Cardano Decentralized Oracle that has exploded in price with return on investment (ROI) over 40 times.

However, to participate in IDOs, investors need a large amount of money because the entrance requirement usually costs a bunch of tokens. And this strategy of investment is considered risky because the launched projects on IDO are sometimes influenced by unexpected factors.

ido cardstarter
Projects launched on Cardstarter. Source: Cardians
occamfi
Projects launched on OccamFi. Source: Cardians_

Conclusion

To conclude, the Cardano ecosystem is still new and relatively small when compared to other existing ecosystems. The Cardano team is focusing on a bigger vision that is changing the real world with blockchain technology; for example, Cardano effectively impacts Africa with the decentralization process.

To which extent will the Cardano go if it completely becomes decentralized? The network and the Project Catalyst Treasury are driven by the Cardano community. All of that will be the key driver to sail the future of the Cardano network.