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Astar is Born? You Gotta be Shiden Me

TL;DR

Before Plasm changed its name to Astar, the team decided to launch a sister project called Shiden on Polkadot’s canary network, Kusama. They dreamed of building a community-driven cross-chain multi-VM, L2-compatible dApp hub. Well, here it is. These guys ship infrastructure tech.

What it is

Astar is a multi-chain, multi-virtual-machine smart-contract dApp hub and parachain on Polkadot that supports smart contracts written in Solidity, Vyper, ink!, Wasm, and other languages. It supports all EVM developer tools, zero-knowledge rollups, and Optimistic virtual machines and offers dApp developers the flexibility to deploy on Layer 1 or rollups.

Everything Astar offers has been battle-tested on their sister project Shiden, living on Kusama, and their ecosystem is growing.

Many bridges are live right now, and more are coming to seamlessly connect Polkadot, Ethereum, Cosmos, Secret Network, and others.

Astar is currently the only parachain on Polkadot that offers dApp staking where users can support new dApps being built on the network and be rewarded as the projects succeed and grow. Astar’s sister project, Shiden, first implemented the dApp staking strategy on Kusama Network.

Why Polkadot needs a smart contract hub

Polkadot’s relay chain doesn’t support smart contracts. Astar is filling this void, not just for EVM compatible smart contracts written in solidity, which has already been done. Several Polkadot parachains already have or intend to have EVM compatibility. Astar provides a smart contract hub that allows interoperability between smart contracts written in several languages. Solidity, Vyper, ink!, and any programming language that compiles to WebAssembly can be used.

This almost universal interoperability means it’s open-season for application layer innovation. Anything a team needs their dApp to do, they can find a suitable blockchain structure for the use case and write the code in whichever language is most convenient and practical.

Astar goes after Apple

Apple’s App Store and Google Play are dominating the market. Astar’s multi-chain dApp hub has a plan and infrastructure to go after their market share, offering users a decentralized, Web 3 friendly alternative to the mainstream app marketplaces.

The Astar team has built an integral incentive structure to entice dApp developers to help build the Astar ecosystem.

dApp staking

Source: Astar Network Forums

Open-source software developers have historically been under-appreciated and inadequately compensated for their contributions to Web3.

Astar and Shiden Network’s dApp Staking model is a clever attempt to remedy this imbalance by creating an incentive structure that allows developers to get funding for developing apps and infrastructure and generate an income from their successful projects.

Astar is the only Polkadot parachain to implement this strategy so far.

In addition to staking your native token stash with validators to earn block rewards, dApp staking also offers an opportunity for holders to support their favorite dApp’s development by staking tokens with the dApp’s creators. Both will receive rewards.

Astar Boost Program

Astar has its ecosystem development fund called the Astar Boost Program, which will focus on bootstrapping new projects in emerging sectors, including DeFi, NFTs, and GameFi, to grow their ecosystem.

Starlay Finance

Starlay is a non-custodial lending protocol on Astar Network partnering with ArthSwap, Astar’s leading DEX. They’re one of the first to receive funding from Astar through the Boost Program.

Symbiotic Partnerships

SnapshotLabs has integrated with Astar Network, providing their on-chain governance tools to developers and DAOs

SuperColony, a Venture Studio that supports Polkadot and cross-chain companies and is pioneering Polkadot WASM, has also partnered with Astar Network. They’re working on some cool stuff like a smart contracts library called OpenBrush, similar to OpenZeppelin and PSP22, an ERC-20 standard on Polkadot WASM.

SubSquid, a data aggregation service provider, has partnered, enabling dApps on Astar to plug in and manage raw on-chain data.

Using the network

$ASTR is the native token of Astar Network, $SDN is Shiden’s. Native tokens are used to maintain and interact with the networks to do things like staking, paying for transaction fees, rewarding nodes, and rewarding dApp operators.

ArthSwap is Astar Network’s leading one-stop DeFi platform to swap, stake, farm, etc. They have some nice liquidity mining rewards and a great starter guide.

Use the Astar portal to connect your polkadot.js wallet and send $ASTR to MetaMask.

Use their faucet on the portal if you don’t yet have some $ASTR for gas.

ArthSwap also partnered with Celer Network’s cBridge. This lets you bridge $wETH, $wBTC, $USDT, and $USDC with Ethereum right from ArthSwap’s homepage.

Polygon and BSC bridges are also live, and a Cosmos/Astar Bridge is coming in collaboration with Octopus Network.

MetaMask RPC setup details:

Before they were Astar

Sota Watanabe started Stake Technologies and Plasm protocol in his early 20’s when he explored Plasma tech as a possible Layer 2 scaling solution for Polkadot. Along the way, he and his team found several better and more promising strategies, so they had to change their name. Plasm Network’s tokens were widely and fairly distributed using a lockdrop distribution strategy. The decisions to redenominate their PLM token and launch Shiden on Kusama were made as a community.

Shiden won the third Kusama parachain auction in January 2021 and began proving and improving the foundation for a multi-chain dApp hub.

The Astar Risks*

Astar is building much-needed cross-chain infrastructure. This is good, but a likely challenge will be to keep up their development pace as they race against other teams building similar tools. There’s a chance several teams can each independently develop a few of the necessary tools, then form partnerships with each other to create a conglomeration of functionality that would rival what Astar has been working on.

If Astar can entice enough of the developer community to move over and keep building, they can establish themselves as a foundational community that can survive the inevitable vampire attacks. They’ve earned their share of respect from the developer community and have many good relationships, so that part is going well. They’ve also done a decent job staying on the cutting edge. They’re collaborating with several teams on projects bringing genuinely new functionality to Web 3 applications like dApp staking and pioneering newer and better interoperability tech like cross-chain message passing (XCMP).

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