Many blockchain systems have come and gone without making an impact. In recent years, a stronger focus has been put on building viable technology stacks. Cosmos is a good example of this, even though it continues to fly under most people’s radar.
The Vision of Cosmos
On the one hand, it is evident that public blockchains lack a lot of useful features and tools. On the other, it is very complex to address such situations with ease. This is part of the reason why so many competing blockchains exist today, and more are likely to be created in the future. Cosmos wants to help solve the key issues sooner rather than later.
Three key issues can be identified: scalability, usability, and interoperability. Various projects have tried to address all of these concepts, but without much success to date. Whether this new initiative will prove more successful, is a different matter altogether.
What is even more interesting is how Cosmos, through its SDK, allows for launching application-specific blockchains. This is an approach the industry will see more of in the coming months and years. There is a high demand for this technology, but there is no “one size fits all” solution on the market today.
Peeking Under the Hood
Claiming to achieve all of these feats, and effectively doing so, are two completely different things. As such, it is crucial to see what Cosmos will bring to the table exactly.
Addressing the scalability concerns is done through Tendermint BFT. It is a consensus engine that doesn’t require proof-of-work, due to their expensive and unscalable nature. Instead, Tendermint BFT uses Cosmos Proof-of-stake to achieve network consensus.
In terms of usability, Cosmos will offer its native SDK as a modular framework. Not only will this yield in program-specific blockchains, but it also makes it easier to achieve interoperability. Lowering the barriers to entry for building blockchain applications is a big step forward.
Speaking of interoperability, unlocking the potential of inter-chain communication will be challenging. Cosmos uses Interblockchain Communication – or IBC – to introduce messaging-like solutions for different blockchains. An interesting approach, although its full impact remains to be determined.
What About Smart Contracts?
No blockchain is complete without providing access to smart contract functionality these days. Cosmos has users covered in this department as well. Rather than using its own smart contract language to provide this benefit, it maintains a modular approach. As such, users are able to use different programming languages.
So What is ATOM?
Judging by the FAQ on Cosmos’ own website, it will be a network of multiple tokens. The first token, called ATOM, is the official “currency” of the Cosmos Hub. This token was sold during the fundraiser in 2017, and can currently be found on many different exchanges.
Interestingly enough, just 5% of the total ATOM supply was distributed to investors early on. The remainder is distributed among the Interchain Foundation, All In Bits Ic, and 75% was kept in reserve for private and public fundraisers. So far, this approach seems to work quite well.