MELD Roadmap Update ⏭ — 2

This article is the second MELD roadmap update.

Stuart
MELD

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This is the second MELD roadmap update and reflects our work with the Cardano Alonzo hard fork launch on September 12th. Our engineering team has been sprinting towards the December token release and protocol launch with great success. However, based on the current state of the mainnet, we will be postponing our $MELD token release and the launch of the protocol due to significant challenges in the mainnet. This delay is primarily driven by support for dApps in general. As such, the official date for the MELD Protocol launch has been postponed.

MELD Protocol Official Launch, and Token Genesis Event Date: January 31st, 2022.

Based on the current state of dApp support and development progress we see that the necessary updates will be in place by Mid January to support a launch on the 31st. The scope of this launch will include the token genesis, airdrop, vesting, staking, and the first version of ADAmatic. We will have regular release updates once the protocol is live and the next major release is being scheduled for Q2 2022.

This delay is frustrating for the MELD team because we want to get the protocol and the token launched. However, rational heads must prevail, and we have to take a more cautious approach.

We had completed the first versions of MELDed Fiat and lending way before the hard fork. Unfortunately, after several investigations, the consensus was that the current mainnet would not run them well. Moreover, the ADAmatic bridge has been making much progress recently, but an end-to-end smart contract design would not work yet.

We were then faced with two options. One is to scale down our initial scope significantly and to build ad-hoc workarounds for the sake of launching something. The other is to delay the launch and plan things more appropriately.

The former is not necessarily hard to do, given that we have been customizing PAB and even the Plutus compiler since May for faster development. Furthermore, the scaled-down scope makes it easier to reason with and prove security properties. The tricky question is where to draw the line. We will go through rigorous auditing that requires much resources and attention from the team for every release. We are so obsessed that we have founded and funded a dedicated research effort on Cardano named Hachi:
https://medium.com/meld-labs/enter-hachi-aa972b4289bc

Spending too much time refining early versions reduces the amount of time to innovate in the next one. MELD has a roadmap to 2025 for world domination, and to do so, we need to keep a certain level of concentration on the profound works. Our most ambitious research at the moment aims to obsolete the account-based state-driven DeFi as we know it today, to redefine DeFi on highly parallel, multi-layered decentralized economies on the UTXO ledger instead. Perfecting too many baby iterations risks breaking this focus.

For instance, we have proposed to include redeemers in script context here:
https://github.com/input-output-hk/plutus/issues/3844

This addition will help everyone write validation logic more concisely, making it easier to prove correctness, yielding smaller scripts that enable more logic to the on-chain validators. We may not need it for more straightforward contracts like vesting, but tightening key components with lasting states like lending and governance is essential. So instead of spending too much time on simplified designs that we would redo completely, we have been designing core components with these new improvements that missed the first hard fork. We do need a state-of-the-art governance protocol for such an ambitious ecosystem in MELD. Rushing for a flawed governance system that burns transaction fees to make trivial decisions early on is a waste of resources for everyone involved.

Another choice we made is to stop maintaining our contract toolset gradually and contribute directly to upstream more instead. As things scale, our researchers and engineers should innovate on non-existent works instead of maintaining things with duplicated functionalities. The key is to make constant net profits to the whole ecosystem in a sane order instead of racing to near-term local profits for just MELD.

Two example efforts can be found in these two threads:
https://github.com/input-output-hk/plutus-apps/issues/4
https://github.com/input-output-hk/plutus/issues/4174

On top of security and tooling, our next concern is scalability. It is hard to scale without apparent trade-offs like going centralized. Isomorphic state channels are destined to rule, but the current state of Hydra will not be able to scale dApps immediately:
https://github.com/input-output-hk/hydra-poc/issues/108

In fact, we had to design our own ad-hoc Hydra to scale MELD’s ambitious economies. The plan is to embed specific economics and financial rules into the state channel protocols, to trade generality for the ability to scale in even the worst-case scenarios. The current generic Hydra design, on the other hand, can only scale if all involved parties are honest, in that losing users would have to admit their loss for everyone to progress. Without disputing and punishment, it is easy to prove that most users would not. Again, as stated above, we are now determined to contribute to the upstream Hydra work as much as we can. Different variants still share the same core setup, and we cannot complete our decentralized economies without such inspirational core works.

We have at least two more research efforts on dApp architectures that scale on the UTXO ledger. In-depth details of all works will be posted in dedicated technical articles in the future.

There are also still several good-to-have features on Cardano, like a proven setup and design to delegate locked ADA in on-chain scripts, read-only UTXOs, and more. As our core team grows, we will be able to publish more findings and expand our upstream contribution efforts to the ledger and consensus layers. A Cardano gain is a MELD gain. Even further, a DeFi gain on Cardano is a MELD gain.

In conclusion, we are still going to release in batches to keep the ecosystem in constant movement. The current delay is more of a temporary thing, to time better with Cardano’s technical roadmaps. Once both Cardano and the core of MELD are stable, we will release more often and confidently. For now, we need to be more patient, and we hope the beautiful MELDers support it. Once the previous roadmap is extended and the R&D team has more space to breathe, we will resume our frequent technical reports at:
https://meld-labs.github.io/technical.

Security Audit

We are now planning security audits based on this new release date. We have the smart contract audit schedule for December 6th and will be done by Tweag. More audits for the MELDapp and the ADAmatic bridge will last towards launch. Tweag is also working closely with MELD to develop Hachi to provide security tooling for the Cardano ecosystem.

MELD — Enjoy today, Secure tomorrow

We think it is essential for everyone to gain control of their financial lives and have equal access to financial instruments used by professionals, not just centralized institutions, governments, or the 1%. We want to provide financial freedom and control to the masses, including the unbanked.

We have a long-term goal to enable the $15 trillion that is currently locked out of the global economy, including 2 billion individuals worldwide that are either underbanked or have no access to banking services whatsoever, to access these tools. These are the people that are paying the highest fees, getting the worst customer service, and they are the ones that are having the most problems.

Our vision is to create an ecosystem that empowers individuals to regain financial control by providing them with the tools and services they need to manage their money on their terms. Whether creating a collateralized debt position (CDP) with cryptocurrency, earning an interest return for lending fiat to borrowers, or even participating in reward incentive programs, we strive to provide our users with the functions they need to manage their own financial lives.

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