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Cronos chain — journey so far and 2022 roadmap
What is Cronos about? It’s about creating easier ways for everyone to access DeFi and GameFi. Tens of millions of users have purchased…
What is Cronos about? It’s about creating easier ways for everyone to access DeFi and GameFi. Tens of millions of users have purchased their first cryptos on a centralized exchange in 2021. Cronos will help them to take the next step and transition to the broader world of self-custody and Web3!
The Cronos mainnet chain was launched on November 8, 2021. Let us recap some of the achievements so far:
Cronos mainnet is live in beta since Nov 8, 2021
More than 12 million transactions to date
More than 350,000 unique active wallet addresses.
Around USD 2 billion Total Value Locked in DeFi protocols (source: Defillama)
26 live validators are securing the network (list of partners)
More than 75 Dapps and services deployed (DeFi, NFT, gaming,…)
Let’s keep in mind: it all happened in less than three months :)
So, what’s in store for 2022?
Let’s talk about next steps. Big thanks to all the contributors who have provided input to this blog post!
The big picture goal is clear. Cronos aims to scale DeFi, NFT and Metaverse applications massively and to facilitate frictionless access by end-users.
Cronos is Ethereum (EVM) compatible and interoperable with the Cosmos ecosystem. Cronos supports rapid porting of apps & smart contracts from Ethereum and other EVM-compatible chains. The Inter Blockchain Communications (IBC) protocol enables interoperability and bridging to the Crypto.org chain and other IBC-enabled chains, such as Cosmos Hub. Practically this means that you will be able to take any crypto-asset created on an Ethereum-compatible chain or IBC-compatible chain and use it to trade, lend, borrow, earn, stake, vote, and play on Cronos.
Cronos is fast, cost-effective, and frictionless. Cronos aims to offer high transaction throughput (from hundreds to thousands of transactions per second), fast transaction finality (5–6 seconds), and cheap transaction fees (from one to a few dimes). Its Proof of Authority (POA) consensus combines decentralization with streamlined, scalable, and environment-friendly transaction processing.
Cronos is built for and by its community. One of the main strengths of Cronos is its passionate global community of more than 10 million CRO token holders and users, and open-source contributors. We expect the community to grow manifold in the coming months. Particle B, the ecosystem accelerator of the Cronos chain, has received an allocation of USD 100 million in CRO to make this happen. Over time, additional ecosystem development initiatives will emerge.
The Cronos project is leveraging valuable work from several open-source communities: Cronos developers, validators and contributors, Crypto.org contributors, Cosmos, and IBC (Inter Blockchain Communication) projects.
This blog post aims to take stock of these community projects and recap some of the advances that Cronos users and Dapp developers will be able to enjoy in the coming weeks and months.
Beta till when?
Cronos mainnet is currently in “live beta” while we observe the network’s reliability across millions of transactions and collect feedback from the community, which the Cronos development team is addressing diligently (see dashboard and issues list), working in close collaboration with the Ethermint and Cosmos teams.
We expect to drop the “beta” qualifier sometime in Q2 2022 after one or two further mainnet upgrades and deployment of the Gravity bridge (see below).
Protocol and database optimizations
Cronos currently produces one block every 5 to 6 seconds. Each block has a total compute capacity of 10 M gas (gas is a unit that measures the computing power required to execute EVM transactions).
While Cronos capacity is currently utilized only at 20 to 25% on average, we are already planning significant capacity increases in 2022 given strong demand. Depending on performance tests, a 3x to 6x increase of block capacity seems reasonable for the short to medium term.
Additionally, the Cronos development team is working on many database optimizations to make Cronos nodes faster (for example, making nested contract call execution time linear instead of exponential) and more responsive when reading on-chain data.
Currently, EVM transactions are submitted to the Cronos chain together with an overall gas limit and gas price (presently fixed at 5000 Giga-basecro) that determine the transaction fees that are paid by users to Cronos validators.
The transaction fee is equal to the computing power used by the EVM layer to process the transaction (measured in gas) multiplied by the gas price.
The Ethermint community has been working on a flexible transaction fee feature that will soon make its way to Cronos. When the feature is implemented, the gas price will be set by the network depending on network conditions. Similar to how the Ethereum works with EIP-1559, the base gas price set by the network will increase when block utilization is higher than 50% and decrease when block utilization is lower than 50%.
We do not expect transaction fees to rise due to the implementation of this feature. In fact, we expect that Cronos will gradually become more cost-effective for users.
Connectivity and interoperability
Users can transfer CRO tokens from and to the Crypto.org chain in a decentralized manner. By decentralized, we mean that user transfers are confirmed by validators and enjoy the same level of security as other transactions on the Cronos chain.
In December 2021, Cronos announced the launch of an IBC channel between Cronos and Cosmos Hub to facilitate cross-chain ATOM token transfers in a decentralized manner. In January 2022, an additional IBC channel was set-up to allow LUNA token transfers between Terra and Cronos.
Additional IBC channels and features will be introduced in the coming weeks. Users will be able to transfer crypto assets from other chains of the Cosmos ecosystem, or other IBC-compatible chains, to Cronos.
Upcoming Cosmos SDK and IBC interoperability modules will bring several exciting functionalities to Cronos:
Interchain accounts (ICS-27): this module allows an account on Cronos chain to securely control an account on another IBC-compatible chain and to get it to send transactions on its behalf.
Relayer incentives (ICS-29): this module makes it possible for the operator of an IBC bridge relayer to charge end-users flexibly, which enhances the economic viability of the bridge. As a result, we can expect a growing number of relayers between Cronos and other IBC-compatible chains.
Non-fungible token standard: this module will support the transfer of NFTs between Cronos and other chains that support NFTs (e.g., Crypto.org Chain, OmniFlix, IRISnet, Pylons).
EVM packets over IBC: this module will allow Cronos users to interact with proxies of smart contracts that live on another EVM-compatible blockchain (e.g., Evmos, Umee).
What about connectivity to Ethereum mainnet? In Q2 2022, we expect the launch of Gravity Bridge, a decentralized bridge allowing the secure transfer of any ERC20 crypto asset from and to the Ethereum mainnet. This is a huge deal that will enable Ethereum users to transfer their crypto assets to Cronos and take full advantage of the low transaction fees and vibrant Dapp ecosystem.
Finally, there will also be interoperability solutions between Cronos and other EVM chains and non-IBC chains. The Cronos protocol team is currently evaluating possible options in this regard.
If you are a Dapp developer or bridge developer building on Cronos and would like specific crypto assets to be available on Cronos, please reach out to the Cronos team in Discord to share your thoughts.
Tooling and infrastructure
Many of the development frameworks, libraries, and tools used by blockchain developers are already available on Cronos, as it is EVM-compatible: Truffle Suite, Hardhat, Open Zeppelin contract libraries, web3.js, ethers.js, web3.py, and many other developer tools.
If you are a Dapp developer building on Ethereum and want to be an early mover in a DeFi ecosystem flush with users and not already super crowded with Dapps, deploying your Dapp to Cronos is a reasonably straightforward exercise!
In December 2021, Crypto.org launched free rate-limited RPC endpoints to make it easy for end-users and Dapp developers to get started with Cronos without running a node (while Dapps in production need to run their nodes).
In January 2022, the team behind Etherscan launched Cronoscan, a user-friendly chain explorer, to inspect EVM transactions and smart contracts.
By Q2 and Q3, 2022, most of the other tooling that Dapp developers have come to expect from a leading EVM-compatible chain will be available on Cronos:
Highly reliable commercial RPC endpoints for access to on-chain data, plus additional protocols and vendors to query large numbers of on-chain data points.
Additional self-custodial wallets besides the ones already available for Cronos users (today we have: Crypto.com DeFi Wallet, Crypto.org Desktop, MetaMask, Trust Wallet, Nabox, MathWallet, ImToken).
Additional analytics platforms besides the ones already available on Cronos (today we have: Debank, vFat.tools, Defillama, Ape Board).
Full integration with at least two of the most prominent oracle solutions (ChainLink and Band Protocol) to enable reliable on-chain & off-chain price feeds for Dapps.
Currently, there are 26 live Cronos validators. Cronos validators hold two types of tokens: CRO, which validators collect from users in the form of transaction fees; and the Cronos Staking Token, which is allocated to validators as part of the Proof of Authority governance of the Cronos chain and represents their voting power in the consensus and other on-chain decisions.
In 2022, we expect further decentralization of the Cronos chain at the protocol level:
The number of validators will increase. We expect this increase to happen slowly and gradually depending on the results of performance tests, out of concern for chain reliability and validator economics.
Protocol governance will be further refined and formalized, building on the current foundations described here.
In December 2021, Particle B, the Web3 startup accelerator of the Cronos ecosystem with an initial allocation of USD 100 million, launched the Cronos Ecosystem Grants program. The first batch of grants was announced in January 2022. MM Finance, a DeFi protocol on the Cronos chain, launched another ecosystem fund. Both funds aim to support early-stage projects which are launching on Cronos.
In 2022, several other ecosystem bootstrapping initiatives will be launched to raise awareness of Cronos among Dapp developers and to support builders who are working on innovative DeFi, NFT, and Metaverse projects. These initiatives will be announced by the Particle B accelerator and others in due course.
Gaming — let’s play!
Cronos is great for DeFi, and NFT use cases. Additionally, we think that gaming applications will play a massive role in bringing tens of millions of additional users to Cronos. Developing an exciting ecosystem of blockchain-based games, with a particular focus on mobile game experiences, is one of the critical work streams on the Cronos roadmap in 2022.
Several Cronos contributors have already started to work on SDKs and other features that will make it easy for developers to build, deploy and operate games on Cronos. More to come!
Throughout 2021 we have seen tremendous advances in the whole Web3 community when it comes to conceptualizing and demonstrating the viability of a modular multi-chain world.
For example, rollup technologies make it possible to separate the application execution layer of blockchains, which processes transactions to update the blockchain state, from the consensus and data availability layers that do not require the same amount of computing power.
While we do not expect the overall design and structure of the Cronos chain to change significantly in 2022, we encourage further research and experimentation to foster constructive discussion regarding the future roadmap of Cronos.
In the long run, for example, we would not be surprised if some DeFi and game developers choose to leverage rollups on top of Cronos as a way to process vast numbers of transactions at low cost while relying on the Cronos chain security and rich crypto asset portfolio.
As blockchain networks become increasingly modular, it is too early to predict which chains will rely on which other chains for specific functions. We welcome dialogue with other Web3 protocols regarding potential cooperation.
Feel free to join the Cronos discussion channels on Discord to share your thoughts!