Polkadot Goes Live After Three Years of Development

Polkadot, an interoperability project, has launched a nearly-complete version of its blockchain after three years of development.

Key Takeaways

  • Polkadot's first "chain candidate" went live this week.
  • This stage prepares the network for staking and validator nodes.
  • Polkadot's DOT token is not yet in general circulation.

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Polkadot has gone live with its first “chain candidate,” a nearly-complete version of its blockchain. The blockchain has been under development since 2017, at which time it raised $140 million in one of the year’s most successful ICOs.

Polkadot In a Nutshell

Polkadot is focused on interoperability: it connects different blockchains together through sharding, parachains, and bridges. These capabilities allow blockchains, and the applications built on those chains, to communicate with each other and process transactions in parallel.

There are several notable projects that are building on Polkadot, including Polymath (a security token platform), Chainlink (an oracle platform), and Aragon (a DAO platform). Though Polkadot’s parent company, Parity, has distanced itself from Ethereum, Polkadot will still support connectivity with Ethereum through various bridge features.

Polkadot’s Chain Candidate

This version of Polkadot is a chain candidate, meaning that it has many of the features that will be part of the blockchain’s mainnet. Most importantly, this version of Polkadot supports token claims and staking. Though rewards are not being paid out yet, users who stake their tokens will be able to serve as validators in the next phase.

This means that Polkadot is being run as a “Proof of Authority” blockchain right now under the governance of the Web3 Foundation—not by a decentralized network of staking nodes. Parity founder and lead developer Gavin Wood has also given a timeline for other features. He notes that identity features will be introduced on Thursday, and adds that support for parachains is “weeks away.” Polkadot’s governance features are also on the way. This will allow participants to vote on matters such as development and spending.

Waiting For Tokens

Polkadot is controversial due to issues around its DOT token. Of the $140 million raised in Polkadot’s 2017 token sale, $98 million worth of those tokens have been frozen due to an Ethereum bug. It is not clear if those tokens will ever be unlocked.

Despite those issues, the DOT token is still available on several exchanges as an IOU. Coinbase Custody also added support for the DOT token as a staking option in April. Any DOT tokens that remain unfrozen will begin circulating in the near future. Users will be able to transfer those tokens freely as soon as community governance decides to allow it. That will happen toward the end of the launch process later this year.

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