An Introduction To Agoric

Apr 19, 2021 4 min read
An Introduction To Agoric

Enterprise-grade DeFi and Smart Contracts blockchain built on Cosmos SDK

Hi Readers 🙌,

Today, we’re having a look at the Agoric Network, a platform to program smart contracts securely in order to enable the future of global economic cooperation. Agoric is a smart contract platform built on the Cosmos SDK and with Tendermint Proof-of-Stake (PoS) mechanism and a native asset to secure the network. In a nutshell, the Agoric chain enables developers to create decentralized applications using assemblable JavaScript smart contracts. Furthermore, it contains built-in decentralized finance (DeFi) building blocks, allowing Agoric to support a second local currency for facilitating economic activity and maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Agoric, as we know it today, was founded in 2018 by Mark S. Miller, Dean Tribble, Bill Tulloh, and Brian Warner and launched their first Testnet in 2019, simply called: Agoric Testnet. It was focused on creating a platform that includes:

  • An Inter-chain Communications Protocol (a precursor to the Inter-Blockchain Communications protocol of Cosmos).
  • Electronic Rights Transfer Protocol (ERTP), a simple set of object APIs for expressing, transacting, and transferring a variety of digital rights between users and smart contracts.
  • Digital native assets built-in JavaScript.
  • Cosmos-SDK Integration gives access to Cosmos modules and features from JavaScript, such as the native ledger and staking architecture.

After the first Testnet in 2019, the network released a software update called Alpha in October 2020. The Alpha release introduced the operational smart contract platform to developers, which allowed them to build and deploy reusable DeFi building blocks such as fungible and non-fungible tokens, an atomic swap service, covered calls, a simple exchange with an order book, and an automated market maker as an on-chain DEX.

Interestingly, the object-based approach that the project has taken to smart contracts lets DeFi building blocks be directly reused. The smart contract framework sources existing technologies while providing a secure, stable infrastructure. Alpha was Agoric’s first step in actualizing an ecosystem of sophisticated components to build DApps or DeFi markets.

A month later, in November 2020, Agoric announced their Chainlink integration. Chainlink oracles enable the DApps to access reliable market data to trigger their contract’s execution and transfer real-world value between users.

That said, the network has recently been undergoing some significant changes and adjustments. In their 7th community call, on the 7th of April 2021, the network announced the names of their revived assets, new branding look, and of course, their latest software update: Beta.

Agoric Beta is the second software update of Agoric and introduces the foundational elements of their economy. Using Agoric’s Testnet environment, developers can rapidly build and deploy smart contracts on top of a prosperous economy that incorporates test versions of their new BLD staking token and RUN local currency.

Furthermore, a new collection of DeFi building blocks gives access to the Beta app, where users can open treasury vaults or interact with the automated market maker. At the core of Beta, this is the first time Agoric has a visible contract (also known as open-source) for the community.

But that’s not all. On March 22, 2021, at 06:00 (UTC+3), Agoric launched their Incentivized Testnet, which will run until 26 Jun 2021 06:00 (UTC+3). The Agoric testnet is a series of global, competitive challenges for validators to prepare, learn and earn points in advance of Agoric’s Mainnet (expected to launch before the end of 2021).

The Testnet consists of five phases, which focus on testing a different aspect of validating and securing the Agoric blockchain network. Phase 1 is focused on onboarding, phase 2 on infrastructure, phase 3 on economic security, phase 4 is a stress test, and phase 5 is adversarial. For a rough timeline, see the image below.

Points are earned by completing network and community tasks during each phase, with bonus points awarded to the challenge tasks’ winners. The goals of the Incentivized Testnet are:

  • Secure the Network Scale # of validators on the network — Take part in governance and upgrades, and keep the Agoric chain secure.
  • Train and Prepare Validators — Prepare validators to be ready for mainnet. Learn about the nuances of running a node for mainnet and earn points.
  • Grow Community — A diverse network of validators is the way forward to a strong network.

For more information about the Agoric Incentivized Testnet, click here.

Agoric Economy Assets

Agoric has two digital assets that are closely connected. The first one is BLD, which is used for securing the network, voting, and governance. Furthermore, BLD also provides stability for RUN. The second asset is RUN, a local currency used to pay for goods, services, and execution fees. The RUN asset is easily adaptable as payment for DApps built on the blockchain and is the primary mechanism for paying validators. Additionally, RUN is what makes it easy for developers to glue DApps together in the Beta Testnet.

So, with RUN, users can bring in collateral, mint RUN against the brought-in collateral as a loan. And then use that run to pay transaction fees and pay for other goods and services. Keep in mind that minting run is the only way to obtain the asset.

  • For more information about the technology behind Agoric, visit here.

Final Thoughts

Agoric is building an enterprise-grade secure smart-contract platform on the Cosmos SDK. In comparison to most of the protocols using an identity-based security architecture for their smart contracts, Agoric uses an object-capability security architecture. In addition to being security-oriented, the protocol empowers developers to create Dapps using composable Javascript smart contracts. Javascript is the most popular coding language with more than 12 million developers worldwide.

Because of this widespread use, barriers to build on Agoric will be lower than on a lot of protocols, and Agoric may well support a thriving community of blockchain developers. Agoric blockchain’s smart-contract approach helps solve many challenges and already has applications in DeFi and NFT as well as more traditional industries such as Logistics. Finally, because Agoric is built on the Cosmos SDK, it will be interoperable with one of the fastest-growing blockchain ecosystems, in which Stakin has been involved as a validator on multiple blockchains over the past years. For all these reasons, we are very excited to be taking part in the latest testnet of Agoric and looking forward to offering validation services on Mainnet, as well as other contributions.

DISCLAIMER: This is not financial advice. Staking, delegation, and cryptocurrencies involve a high degree of risk, and there is always the possibility of loss, including the failure of all staked digital assets. Additionally, delegators are at risk of slashing in case of security or liveness faults on some protocols. We advise you to do your due diligence before choosing a validator.

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