What is Cosmos Network? Quick Guide & Overview

Mar 10, 2019 5 min read
What is Cosmos Network? Quick Guide & Overview

As Cosmos Hub is approaching Mainnet launch, we decided to write a short and easy to understand guide to understand its ecosystem.

Cosmos Network: Quick Guide & Overview

Hi Readers,

Cosmos is an inter-chain ecosystem where blockchain can scale and interoperate with each other as opposed to the one chain rule them all strategy adopted by many protocols. More than a simple product or blockchain, Cosmos is a whole ecosystem of tools to build inter-operable application-specific chains, among which the Cosmos Software Development Kit (SDK), Tendermint, the Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol (IBC), and Cosmos Hub are the main components.

  • Cosmos SDK: A developer-friendly framework making it easy for people to write their own application-specific blockchain.
  • Tendermint: BFT consensus protocol and its software implementation named Tendermint Core.
  • IBC: Sidechain protocol enabling blockchains to communicate with each other. IBC is still in the spec/prototyping phase right now.
  • Cosmos Hub: the name of one of the blockchains connected to the ecosystem, this one being built by the Cosmos team, it keeps a record of the total number of tokens in each zone. It is different from Cosmos Network, also called Cosmos, which designates the whole ecosystem.😊

Key Characteristics

The vision of Cosmos is to make it easy for developers to build blockchains and break the barriers between blockchains by allowing them to transact with each other. The end goal is to create an Internet of Blockchains, a network of blockchains able to communicate with each other in a decentralized way. If you wish to know more about this, you can also check the intro guide made by the Cosmos team, which is pretty holistic.

Most importantly, Cosmos solves some of the key challenges that are currently present within the blockchain industry:

  • Scalability: Tendermint is a BFT consensus protocol that can have a block time on the order of 1 second and handle up to thousands of transactions per second, allowing blockchain applications to scale to millions of users, as well as having several separate and specialized chains interacting efficiently through IBC. In case the propagation time increase suddenly, Tendermint can adapt and just increase the block time, which allows pushing the block time as low as possible.
  • Inter-operability: The connection between blockchains/hubs will be achieved through IBC protocol, a sidechain protocol enabling blockchains to communicate with each other. It is still in the spec/prototyping phase at the moment.
  • Governance: Within the Cosmos ecosystem, each blockchain maintains its own sovereignty and set of rules, making it optimal for various use cases and enabling the economic integration of various application-specific blockchain without political trouble. Moreover, Cosmos Hub itself will be governed by the ATOM token holders, who benefit from voting rights in regards to protocol amendments.
  • Usability: Tendermint Core allows developers to focus on application development as opposed to the complex underlying protocol, saving hundreds of hours of development time: developers can easily develop an application-specific blockchain. Not only developers do not have to write a consensus or protocol by themselves, but they can also program with the language of their choice, and build both public and private blockchains. The modularity of the Cosmos SDK, a framework to code your own blockchain, also allows us to port any existing blockchain in Golang on top of Cosmos, Ethermint is, for example, porting the Ethereum Virtual Machine and its tools (Truffle, Metamask).
  • Security: Tendermint most notably offers instant-finality: users can be sure their transactions are finalized as soon as a block is created. As long as at least two-thirds of the validators are honest, a client can trust any header that is signed by a known validator set, forks are not created, and malicious validators can be somehow punished. Cosmos SDK builds on top of the BFT consensus algorithm Tendermint.
  • Bonded Proof-of-Stake (BPoS): The state of the Cosmos Hub, as well as the one of your future application-specific chain, can be maintained through BPoS, a variant of Proof-of-Stake where token holders can earn additional tokens based on the size of their stake. In return for securing the network, validators and delegators will be able to earn an interest rate. Key advantages of BPoS include energy-efficiency, automatic rewards, and the fact that staking ratios are not required for validators. We’ve written an article about the variants of PoS if you’d like to know more. In BPoS, it is important to note that in case of safety or liveness fault, a portion of the validators and delegators’ stake will be slashed: carefully choose your validator.At Stakin, we would be more than happy to help you earn interests on your ATOM tokens, and to shed a light on some of your questions. We’ve been running a secure node on Tezos and IRISnet, and we cannot wait to have you on board on our next Cosmos adventure.

Cosmos Hub Token

Image result for cosmos internet of blockchains
Macro view of the Cosmos Network, Cosmos Hub, and Tendermint from Julian Koh
  • Total Supply: The total supply at Genesis will be 236,198,958 ATOMs.
  • Distribution: 75% of the ATOMs will be allocated to participants in the fundraiser, 10% for the Interchain Foundation, 10% for All in Bits Inc. and 5% for seed investors.
  • Inflation: Cosmos Hub has a multi-token model with a hyper-inflationary staking token which is the ATOM ranging from 7% to 20%. The fewer ATOMs are staked, the more hyper-inflationary Cosmos becomes. With 0% of the ATOMs staked, Cosmos Hub will have a 20% inflation rate. With 67% of the ATOMs staked, the inflation rate drops to 7% and just remains constant for the rest.
  • How to acquire ATOMs: If you did not take part in the fundraising, which happened in the spring of 2017, or did not get an initial stake, for example by taking part in Game of Stakes, you will have to acquire ATOMs on exchanges or via OTC. At launch, transfers will not be enabled yet, meaning that you won’t be able yet to acquire ATOMs, but these will soon be allowed as part of the voting process within Cosmos. You will be able to buy ATOM when transfers are enabled via Coinone, and for now, you can also speculate at your own risk by buying IOU on Dflowx*.

*Please note that except on Dflowx currently traded tokens $ATOM and are not tokens native to the Cosmos.


The team working on the Cosmos Network is quite large and lead by Ethan Buchman and Jae Kwon, who co-founded All in Bits Inc. (which also does business as Tendermint Inc.) Since 2017, All in Bits Inc. has been contracted by the Interchain Foundation to deliver the initial version of the Cosmos Network.

What can we build on Cosmos?

There’s a lot of cool stuff to be built on top of Cosmos, you can, for example, focus on building your own application-specific chain, but also enhance the current Cosmos ecosystem with modules such as Oracles, Prediction Markets, DEX, Stablecoins, Atomic Swaps.

You can follow this workshop if you are curious about the idea of building your own application-specific Plasma Chain.

There are about 80 projects as part of the Cosmos & Tendermint ecosystem, among which:

  • IRISnet: service infrastructure and protocol that facilitates the construction of distributed business applications, one of the Hub in the Cosmos ecosystem
  • Binance Chain: powering the Binance DEX and offering an alternative for issuing and exchanging digital assets
  • OmiseGo: financial network, exchange and settlement platform
  • BigchainDB: high throughput blockchain database
  • Loom Network: games and Dapp's network of side chains
  • Regen Network: ecological monitoring platform

Want to discover more about Cosmos?

There’s so much to tell about Cosmos and the great tools and frameworks that have been and are being built that we have taken some shortcuts in this article. Please feel free to browse through their documentation and have a look at their blog or our links above. Additionally, your comments are welcomed.

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