Why we love Kadena’s Marmalade NFT Standard— from the perspective of DNA’s CTO

Database of Native Assets
4 min readFeb 9, 2022

Hi Friends,

My name is Abraham Milano and I am the CTO of the Database of Native Assets (DNA). DNA is a blockchain technology platform that bridges the physical and digital worlds to combat fraud and counterfeiting through the minting of unique tokens that serve as certificates of authenticity for physical products. Our technology uses the Kadena protocol and their NFT standard — Marmalade.

Experiencing the limitations of ETH

Prior to joining DNA, I was a co-founder and CTO of DADA.nyc. Created in 2012, along with Beatriz Helena Ramos (Founder) and Yehudit Mam (Co-Founder), DADA.nyc was initially meant to be a “LinkedIn for Artists”, a platform in which an artist could truly showcase and present it’s body of work and that in turn would help companies hiring talent to get a better idea of what an artist was able to do. In 2014 we released one of the tools that Beatriz originally envisioned to have in the platform, a drawing tool, built using HTML5 and Javascript. We eventually switched focus to the tool and created what we called Visual Conversations, DADA.nyc was no longer trying to be the “LinkedIn for Artists” and instead turned into a wonderful place where people from all over the world come to create digital art, collaborating with each other, “speaking” through images.

Along the way, we tried to monetize the content created by our users using companies that made t-shirts, coffee mugs, posters, stickers, etc., but every single time we found that the artists weren’t properly remunerated and in fact a lot of the content was being pirated by other companies. In 2017 we found in Ethereum, through ERC-20 tokens and Larvalabs’ Cryptopunks what we thought was the answer to our problems. Thanks to the generosity of Matt Hall and John Watkinson we used the Cryptopunks contract as a starting point; they had already coded uniqueness for tokens within ERC-20 standard which was probably one of the firsts proto-NFT smart contracts, we implemented into it the concept of “prints” and what was perhaps the first implementation of royalties inside a smart contract, a feature that we’d always tried to push for.

For a long time Ethereum has been touted as the platform that would revolutionise the use of the blockchain in our everyday lives. Nevertheless, as we built out our smart contract on ERC-20 in 2017 we quickly encountered the limitations of the technology in our mission to democratise digital art to ensure that Artists were paid their fair share. Beyond the issues that have become commonly accepted today such as the high minting costs, unpredictable gas fees due to increasingly congested networks and the high energy intensity of mining, we also struggled to incorporate royalty functions for Artists in subsequent sales of their work. Even as we adopted the ERC-721 standard in 2019 it was challenging to find a workaround that would fit the mould, since we weren’t able to make marketplaces at the time to play along with the concept of royalties coded inside the contracts rather than having the marketplaces deal with them. For what it’s worth, they weren’t even enforcing royalties at the time.

Discovering Kadena

When we launched DNA, we wanted to make sure that the protocol we used had longevity and addressed the issues that limited ETH. Moreover, our customer base was clear that any solution we provided had to be scalable and most importantly environmentally friendly. When I read Kadena’s whitepaper, I felt extremely excited by how groundbreaking this could be. I was instantly taken by their fresh approach and the fact that it was the only scalable layer 1 Proof of Work (PoW) blockchain.

Why Kadena?

Being the first and only Layer-1 blockchain that has managed to permanently address scalability whilst preserving the power of Ethereum (and Bitcoin), Proof of Work (PoW) security and decentralization. In addition to this, Kadena is 180,970 times less energy intensive than Ethereum which is a huge selling point for our eco-conscious customer base in the luxury brands space.

I, admittedly, did have some reservations about building on Pact. However, as one of the most secure smart contract languages in the blockchain industry that offers built-in automated auditing, it quickly became clear that this was a prescient and meticulous decision from the Kadena team, one that should promote a burgeoning ecosystem on their platform for years to come.

Marmalade

It’s clear that Marmalade was designed with mass adoption in mind and looks to address many of the concerns that are currently plaguing the most commonly used NFT standards. The “t” Token Identifiers make it possible to cryptographically identify an actual NFT, taking out the possibility of duplicates. A big plus when you are trying to combat counterfeiting! The token policy specification allows a “pluggable” logic that gives us the flexibility to set the environment around issuance, transfer and onward sales to cater to our customers’ needs. The functionality around royalties is also a key differentiator and we believe a real asset to Artists and Creators who so far have to rely on marketplaces to honor the secondary market royalties, but what happens when they decide to not play along, or when a token is traded outside of a marketplace? Robust token policies make sure that a token behaves the way its creator intended it to and as a bonus it actually separates token behavior customization from the standard.

We feel lucky to have come across Kadena when we did and privileged to be one of the projects working within the Kadena ecosystem. We believe that Kadena and Marmalade offer the right structures and protocols to enable widespread & mainstream adoption of blockchain, while helping to advent novel and innovative solutions like ours that will bridge the physical and the digital world.

This is just the beginning…

Abraham Milano, CTO of Database of Native Assets (DNA)

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Database of Native Assets

DNA is a blockchain-based platform that helps brands combat counterfeiting & build trust with their customers. Built on the Kadena blockchain. Coming soon.