Polkadot is built as a Relay Chain. This means that it has made a tradeoff in its architecture and it is not a complete blockchain on its own. Polkadot does not have Smart Contract Capability. It only provides security and governance to the Parachains which will link with it. These Parachains will become the Layer One blockchains.
With such an architecture in mind, there must be a blockchain/s that provides the smart contracts which can be leveraged by various apps and thus make Polkadot truly interoperable. Astar Network (previously Plasm) is one such solution.
Astar is a scalable smart contract platform built on Substrate, the fundamental technology behind Polkadot. It aims to be the dapp hub of Polkadot, supporting Ethereum, WebAssembly, dApp, Staking, and Layer2 solutions.
Even before fully being onboarded as a parachain in Polkadot, Astar has built an ecosystem of 40+ projects.
What problem does Astar Solve
As Polkadot does not have Smart Contracts of its own, there needs to be a platform that provides dapps with the required smart contract infrastructure. Developers can then have the peace of mind to purely focus on their product. Astar Network hence provides scalability and interoperability and adds to it the security and governance of Polkadot.
dApps Staking: Astar Network has created a mechanism through which 50% of the Network’s staking rewards will go to developers or administrators of smart contracts.
Multi Virtual Machine: Astar natively supports Ethereum Virtual Machine and WebAssembly. Gavin Wood previously stated that though Webassembly is the future, it is important to support legacy infrastructure like Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Astar is building a product that will allow smart contracts to execute calls and read storage data from different virtual machines and languages within the same blockchain.
Operator Trading: Astar Network can tokenize smart contracts and transfer contract ownership. It provides a way to buy and sell Astar applications.
Multi-Lockdrop: Using Astar’s lock drop, participants can lock tokens from other blockchains (ETH, DOT, or KSM) for a certain duration and gain native tokens. This brings in the DeFi element to Astar.
The Astar token (in Polkadot) and Shiden (in Kusama) is used to run the network and pay fees
· Pay for on-chain transactions
· Participate in governance activities like voting and referenda
· Stake and earn more ASTAR / SHIDEN token
Astar is widely popular in the Polkadot ecosystem. It is considered one of the most technologically advanced teams of Kusama/ Polkadot. Astar is funded by Top VCs. The major VCs include:
· Binance Labs
· Fenbushi Capital
· Huobi Ventures
· Okex Blockdream ventures
Web 3 grants are often referred to as the most important measure of achievement of a Polkadot Project, and Astar has the highest of them. It has received 7 grants till now out of which it has delivered 4 and 3 are in progress. The work they have done for Web 3 Foundation include:
· Plasma modules for Substrate
· Ink! Playground
· Plasm Chain + OVM Implementation
· ECDSA for Polkadot JS
· Hardware ECDSA for Polkadot JS
· ZK Rollups Pallet
· ZK Plonk Pallet
In this short timeframe, Astar has had quite a several achievements:
1. The canary network, Shiden won the 3rd Kusama Parachain auction
2. It has won 7 Web3 grants
3. Approximately 150k+ ETH has been locked in Astar smart contracts through the Lockdrop Program.
4. Currently, Astar is working with close to 40+ projects that include DeFi, Dao, NFT’s, etc.
5. Astar deployed the first smart WASM contract on Polkadot Testnet. They also completed the first cross-chain message passing on the Polkadot Testnet with Acala’s testnet parachain.
6. Supports Ethereum Virtual Machine in Astar Network testnet parachain on Rococo.
In the second part of the article, we will continue talking about some other parameters (Partnerships, Shiden — the canary network, competitors, and price traction) of Astar. We will see if we can unearth the true value of Astar through this 360-degree project analysis.
Read More: What Is Web 3 Economy
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