The first candidate for the highly anticipated blockchain and one of the top 10 ICOs of 2017, Polkadot Network, is live. The relevance of this project lies in its promise to bring much-needed “true [blockchain] interoperability.”
Web3 Foundation, Polkadot’s lead developer has announced the launch of the initial version of this sharded protocol, which will allow the team to “execute critical logic and security audits and calibrate final aspects of the network.” In a separate post, Gavin Wood, Ethereum (ETH) co-founder who started Polkadot in 2016, said that this “CCI” is the first candidate for the Polkadot mainnet, using the governance parameters for the first time with limited functionality, adding that another candidate will be launched if necessary. Importantly, no parachains are active yet.
Polkadot is a shared protocol that enables different blockchain networks to operate together. Per the website, it allows connecting and launching blockchain applications by using parachains to link to different networks. This same principle will enable any type of cross-blockchain transfers, whether these are data or assets, and not necessarily just tokens.
As for parachains, these are sovereign blockchains, or shards, with unique functions, meaning they can be designed for specific use cases. They communicate with each other, but also with external blockchains, such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum, through bridge blockchains, which Polkadot describes as “a cornerstone technology of blockchain interoperability.”
What this means for various applications, businesses, organizations, etc., is that their developers will be able to establish a communication between theirs and other blockchains to share data, and without a need for a centralized element/institution. Also, an application could be built to get permissioned data from a private blockchain and use it on a public one.
Using Polkadot.js today reminds me of using Ethereum Mist in 2016.
Mist magic moment: creating a new token easily w/ non-custodial desktop client-based UX
Polkadot.js magic moment: Staking and voting easily w/ non-custodial browser-based UX
— Nick Tomaino (@NTmoney) May 26, 2020
Wood also said in the announcement that “smart contracts are too bloaty and writing your own chain is too much work,” but that Polkadot and Substrate, its primary blockchain-building framework, enable developers to build a domain-specific chain for a specific purpose, which can then communicate with other chains.
Polkadot is expected to transition to the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, at which point the governance vote will be required to distribute the DOT tokens sold in the 2017 ICO. Until then, “DOT tokens do not exist yet.”
CMC Alert: DOT tokens do not exist yet. Allocations of Polkadot’s native DOT token are technically and legally non-transferable. Please see page for more details. https://t.co/yeLRfhIRuo
— CoinMarketCap (@CoinMarketCap) May 27, 2020
“Polkadot is, in many respects, the biggest bet in this ecosystem against chain maximalism,” said Wood in a video interview. “Even if there were one perfect chain, I don’t think it would stay perfect for very long.”
However, even if Polkadot is “the biggest bet,” it’s not the only one. In May, Accenture and Fujitsu Laboratories said they are jointly developing a blockchain interoperability solution. Also, NEO is working on its new upgrade, NEO 3.0, which will also include “major improvements in interoperability.” Cosmos (ATOM) is also developing an interoperability solution.
A survey of 200 businessmen in 2019 showed that interoperability is a major challenge for the adoption of the distributed ledger technology.
Meanwhile, this launch follows the experimental version of Polkadot, called Kusama, launched in July 2019. In February of this year, Polkadot integrated Chainlink’s oracle technology into Substrate, as the first blockchain ecosystem outside of Ethereum that Chainlink will support. In March this year, Web3 financed developer house Interlay‘s work on a bridge between Bitcoin and the Polkadot ecosystem, a BTC-Parachain, meant to bring Bitcoin-backed assets onto Polkadot.