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2021 Reflections & The Year Ahead: with Charles Hoskinson

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In a Christmas Eve YouTube chat, Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson reflected on the achievements and challenges of 2021, and looked ahead to what is coming in 2022.

Cryptocurrency - 2021 Big Picture

2021 was a banner year for the entire Cryptocurrency ecosystem. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano, and others showed enormous growth and hit all time highs. Cardano started the year at $0.18, and ended at about $1.36, having flirted around the $3 mark in early September. The world of NFTs exploded: everyone has now heard of this new type of digital asset, even if we don’t all yet know why we would want it! The DeFi space as a whole has grown from a 10 billion market cap, to a 100 billion market cap. At the same time, we also saw 10.5 billion dollars worth of loss in DeFi, due to scams and bad software that leaves the door open to bad actors.

Cardano - 2021 Achievements and Challenges

Growth in price and market cap is an important measuring stick, but it’s not the only way to mark progress. This year the Hoskinson Center for Formal Mathematics was opened at Carnegie Mellon University. Charles appeared on the Lex Friedman podcast, and awareness of Cardano grew exponentially. The Cardano Summit in September brought together more that 100K participants around the globe at in-person and virtual events.

Charles reflected on predictions he made in a 2020 tweet, and how they panned out this year. In the tweet, he said

“I predict by this time next year, we'll have thousands of DApps and hundreds of assets on Cardano.”

As it turned out, this was both an underestimate and an overestimate:

  • Assets: over two million assets have been issued on cardano! Not thousands, but millions. Most of these are NFTs.
  • Apps: because it took longer than expected to launch smart contracts, the era of DApps on Cardano is just now in its infancy. However, things are starting to take off: Right now there are 127 projects actively writing code with the intent to deploy a DApp on Cardano; some of these are on track for a Q1 release in 2022.

Cardano - the 2022 Forecast

Charles explained that the slow and careful setup of the Cardano network was intentional, and sets the stage for success as it grows:

“We started this project with correctness as our highest priority, and now that correctness has been achieved, we're moving over to performance-tuning, optimization, usability… and that is a game of rapid iteration - you do a little bit, you get a huge advantage.”

Developers: Cardano has no shortage of developers. At last count, more than 10K developers have joined the Plutus Pioneer program. The goal is to get the Cardano developer training program into a 2 month cadence, running 6 classes per year, and do it indefinitely.

Community: Based on metrics coming from Daedalus wallet downloads, social metrics, and other measures, there are an estimated 2 Million participants in the Cardano community. This demonstrates healthy scale and velocity for the project!

Project Catalyst: Treasury-funded & crowd-sourced, Project Catalyst has grown by leaps with each round. Rounds 1-6 comprised about 700 proposals total. In round 7 alone, that number doubled with more than 700 new proposals. Each proposal is a bid to grow Cardano according to community-set goals, and the energy being poured into the project is inspiring. You can see an interactive directory of these proposals, including filters to show which got funded, using our community tool at

Custodianship: There are three custodial companies that have been involved since the beginning: The Cardano Foundation, Emurgo, & Input/Output. There have also been many companies that have participated in special projects. In 2022, a formal open-source project structure will be established. At that point, all the founding institutions and participating companies will be integrated into a new, more open and decentralized structure. This is an important step toward making Cardano a Decentralized Autonomous Organization.

Optimization: Three Cardano Improvement Proposals (CIPs) are ready to be implemented in the new year. The Cardano Node 1.3.3 release is expected to result in a 50% reduction in sync time for Daedalus, as well as reducing memory utilization. These and other planned enhancements are on track for 2022.

Mithril: This IOHK-developed protocol will be an important tool for creating lightweight blockchain apps that are fast and secure.

Hydra: This solution for global scalability of the network is on-schedule for 2022 release.

Projects: Of the 127 DApps projects currently building; the one Charles is most excited about is Pezesha. The goal of the project is to put together an end-to-end microfinance transaction on Cardano: A real person in Kenya or somewhere, with a blockchain-based identity and credit score, with a stablecoin on the other side of the transaction, using Cardano as the settlement rail.

“Peer-to-peer, person to person: click a button, loan goes to them, they pay it back, it goes to the other side.”

In Africa, where Pezesha is based, loan interest rates in the greater market range up to 80%. Lenders are often predatory and corrupt. Market-wide default rates are around 40%. In this context, Pezesha is doing great work, charging only 3% interest monthly (~36% annually) and boasting a default rate around 2%. By making affordable and honest microfinancing readily available using blockchain, Charles predicts that healthy competition would drive rates even lower. These are the financial tools that people in some parts of the world take for granted. They empower people to build better futures for their families, communities, and nations.

Final Reflections

Charles reflected back to the dream he espoused in his TED talk in 2014. In that talk, he said we would build a financial operating system for the world. He said it must be done with peer-review and formal methods. He admitted it would be a long, arduous, and systematic march:

“It's not sexy. It's not defined by surprise announcements. It's not defined by sudden partnerships and burns and …other gimmicks that the space has been defined by. Just good old-fashioned hard work.”

In an industry that is often polarized by maximalists and an “Us v. Them” mentality, it’s refreshing to hear a very different view:

“It doesn't matter who wins, because we win. Humanity wins. The people win. [We are doing this] as an industry to do better, to live in a more fair world, a more equal world…[We are doing this] as an industry so that we together don't have to pessimistically, cynically accept what has been given to us. That is the rally cry: ‘Just do better!’”

Stay tuned here to find out if and when these forecasted developments come to fruition. Here’s looking forward to another busy year of news - successes, setbacks, and just doing better - together!

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Which of the forecasted developments in 2022 are you most excited about?

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Plutus is the Greek God of wealth and bundance! Plutus is often seen with his eyes bound shut. Zeus blinded Plutus so that he would distribute the funds evenly and without judgment! This to me is the vision that Charles has in my opinion. To give people the ability to use their brain to help themselves and other create a new world in Web3. There has been so much growth, and advancement in the Cardano Network and there has been some short comings. All networks are going to have growing problems, but the architecture, structure, and future capabilities is unmatched in my opinion. What I can tell you as a fact! The people of Cardano are different, they are very smart, ready to help, and willing to stand together United to see the success of this network! Cardano will be standing when a lot of others aren’t!

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Right on TurboMadeit - I didn’t know that about Plutus, and I love it! All the clever naming in Cardano is a hoot - maybe you already know about them all, but I wrote about the “naming” of the network itself, and the currency, and all the eras in this article:

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Ada has changed my lifestyle. The community of people inside the Cardano ecosystem are the best if you want to change your prospective change your currency and start voting for projects that can change the trajectory of the future for the better. CARDANO ECOSYSTEM HAS THE ABILITY TO MAKE A POWERFULLY POSITIVE IMPACT!!! Delegate with lido

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Thanks Migsthemutt! The great people and positive community really are the best. Thanks for being part of it with us!

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Really love this write-up on things to look forward to in 2022! We are still in the middle of Q1, and there is always so. much. happening all of the time, and in so many amazing and inspiring ways! One of the sleeper topics mentioned here is Mithril. It seems to be something working towards making Cardano faster and lighter for the entire world to enjoy, and am feeling super stoked to see how it evolves. BIG shoutout to LidoNation and the entire crew working to maintain this library. You are our heroes, and your contributions to Cardano will last for generations! Cheers everyone and hope you have a good rest of the month for February! With love, The Alexandria Project.

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We really appreciate the kind words, Alexandria Project. (Also, this is the second mention of the Alexandria Project – what is it??)

One thing I personally like about this article is all the little topics/ideas of things I need to do more research on so we can write more articles – like Mithril!

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This is it, the second renascence!

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🥳 1

Let’s make history!

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So excited for all that’s coming to us this year, couldn’t pick a better group of people to be here with, shout-out to The Alexandria project! Gonna be huge 😍

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Glad you are on the journey with us Kezze - but tell me what the Alexandria project is?

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I am excited for the algorithm based stable coin on Cardano. I think that will be a big bust to the price. I think it will be bigger than Dex’s. I’ve enjoyed how Cardano has staged it’s growth. We are early!


Thanks SuamoxNFT – is that the Djed coin? I don’t know a lot about it yet, but I look forward to learning more!

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