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Cardano Launches Shelley Mainnet, Offers Staking Rewards to All

Cardano's Shelley upgrade offers staking rewards, with possible returns of 4.65% per year.

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Key Takeaways

  • Cardano's Shelley mainnet went live on July 29 at 21:44 UTC
  • This upgrade introduces staking, which allows users to invest their ADA cryptocurrency and earn interest
  • With staking complete, Cardano must now introduce governance features, custom tokens, and applications

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Cardano launched its Shelley mainnet today, introducing staking rewards for all users who own its ADA cryptocurrency.

The launch took place on July 29, 2020, at 21:45 UTC. More technically, this event marks the “hard fork” that introduced the relevant changes to Cardano’s blockchain code.

Cardano Staking Is Live

Cardano offers two types of staking. Advanced users can run their own staking pools, which requires technical management and reliable uptime. Meanwhile, typical users can delegate their ADA tokens to those pools and earn rewards with minimal effort.

Cardano’s website estimates that users will earn 4.63% interest per year, but this rate may change depending on participation. Users who stake between July 29 and August 3 will receive the first payouts on August 18. Rewards are calculated cyclically, as shown below.

Over 465 pools are currently online, according to Cardano’s parent company, IOHK. Cardano aims to reach an “equilibrium” of 1000 pools, a number already achieved on the testnet. Over 12.99 billion ADA ($1.7 billion) was staked on the Cardano incentivized testnet.

The Long Road to Staking

Cardano’s staking features have been under development since 2018. After months of work, the project invited early participants to stake real value in December 2019. The hype has seemingly paid off: in early July, Cardano attracted 14,000 new addresses every day.

However, the hype is arguably sustainable. Some suggest that social media engagement and market trends are not as positive as they appear, which could impact ADA prices negatively.

Right now, Cardano has few applications beyond staking, but the project’s roadmap indicates that it will change. The “Voltaire” stage will introduce a governance system to guide development, and “Goguen” will add smart contracts, apps, and custom tokens.

IOHK CEO Charles Hoskinson recently predicted that these upgrades would attract thousands of developers to the Cardano platform:

Cardano will undoubtedly need to approach that goal to compete with Ethereum, which has over 3000 dApps, more than 200,000 custom tokens, and its own upcoming staking features.

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