Astar Network: A multi-VM Blockchain Platform on Polkadot

Astar is a multi-VM blockchain platform that enables developers to build and deploy decentralized applications (dapps) on Polkadot. It is one of the few projects that are actually live on Polkadot. In this article, we will give you a brief history of Astar Network, explain what it is and how it works, and provide more information on some of the major features of the platform. We will also take a look at the governance model and token utility of Astar Network.

Astar Network is a Layer 1, Smart Contract platform that runs on Polkadot as a Polkadot parachain. Astar Network supports both the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), WebAssembly (WASM), and incorporates support for Layer 2 solutions, in contrast to other Smart Contract platforms that typically only support one single virtual machine. When it comes to dApp development, this opens up a lot of options for developers.

What is Astar Network (ASTR)?

The Astar network was formerly known as the Plasm network. The development of Plasm has taken place for over two years. Their initial aim was only to use layer 2 technology on the Polkadot network, regardless of the fact that it had been their first objective. This goal, however, was more ambitious than their previous one.

Although, the project’s primary goal was to create a Layer 2 scaling solution for Polkadot, and it has accomplished that and is continuing to expand on it. Astar, on the other hand, is known today as a smart contract platform for Web3.0 developers that supports both Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and WebAssembly (WASM).

The objective of the initiative is to increase efficiency for developers in a more crowded blockchain environment by lowering costs and speeding up the process. Instead of staking to safeguard the network, users may now support projects of their choice through dApp staking.

With each day that passes, new cryptocurrency users are flooding the market. DApps (decentralized applications) are moving towards mainstream usage as more people join the crypto sector. Users desire cheaper, faster, and more enjoyable services, which is why Astar gives developers the flexibility to focus on this area.

Astar’s Layer 2 capabilities allow developers to offload elements of their work onto a secondary chain, lowering congestion and expenses in the process, based on the Optimistic Virtual Machine (OVM) module. The ability to make further improvements is aided by Plasma and zero-knowledge rollup (ZKRollup) capabilities. Web3.0 apps may also take advantage of cross-chain interoperability, which is possible thanks to Polkadot.

The smart contract support that Relaychain delivers to Polkadot nodes is not, by design, available. This provides Astar with the ability to address the problem. Scalability is clearly one of the most important requirements for Dapp developers today. Developers should be able to deploy any application on the Astar network without having to worry about scalability.

What is Shiden Network (SDN)?

Shiden Network is the sister network of Astar Network on the Kusama ecosystem. Shiden is to Astar what Kusama is to Polkadot. Before they are implemented on Astar Network, new unique concepts are tried out in an actual economic setting on Shiden.

Shiden Network, like Astar Network, is a multi-chain decentralized application layer on Kusama Network. By design, Kusama Relaychain does not support smart contract functionality, therefore it needs a smart contract layer to complement the existing Blockchain technology. This is where Shiden Network steps in to help. Shiden has support for Ethereum Virtual Machine, WebAssembly, and Layer2 technology from the start. The platform supports a variety of applications, including DeFi, NFTs, and others.

A Brief History of Astar Network (ASTR)

Sota Watanabe, a prominent figure in the blockchain industry, launched Astar Network in January 2019. Stake Technologies, which runs Astar in Japan and is domiciled in Singapore, is run by Watanabe and his team.

The team originally called the project Plasm Network, after which it was rebranded as Astar in June 2021. The Polkadot ecosystem and Web3.0 domain more broadly, as of June 2022, Astar has raised over thirty-three million US dollars.

Astar Network is a parachain in the Polkadot ecosystem, which has achieved excellent results across several indicators including total value locked as of June 2022. Since its inception, the project has grown considerably in both scope and user base, and appears poised to contribute further advancement to the Web 3.0 environment.

Given its technological capabilities and financial inducements, including through its incubation and #Build2Earn initiatives, Astar is a popular ecosystem for new projects. The project’s governance is set to become increasingly decentralized, culminating in it becoming a DAO with direct on-chain voting.

Astar Key Features

dApp Staking

The concept is made simpler by comparing it to staking on validators, where users can instead choose to stake their Astar/Shiden tokens on the project. Users who stake nominants are known as nominators. Every block generates half of the block rewards for dApp staking. The payout is split into a 50/50 ratio between operators (developers) and nominators.

According to Astar, Astar Network can create an environment where dApp developers will be more likely to build on its platform, as 25% of overall block payouts represents a significant incentive for Astar ecosystem creators. In other blockchain ecosystems, such as Ethereum, dApp developers must apply for grant programs, coin issuance, fundraising, and so on in order to earn money. In the Astar economic system, as long as your dApp has been nominated, you will receive a modest income. As your dApp becomes more popular, more members of the community will nominate you, resulting in a greater share of the block reward for you.

Astar Network dApp Staking
Astar Network’s dApp Staking (source)

Key benefits of dApp Staking

According to Astar, staking Astar/Shiden tokens on dApps provides three key advantages.

The first is that it allows developers to profit from the interest generated by staked tokens. Developers can sustain themselves as they develop their dApps, which draws additional smart contract developers to the system.

The second advantage is that staking dApp tokens–also known as nominators–are able to earn staking rewards and high APIs for their staked tokens while supporting Astar dApps. Having the nominators to stake on dApps provides greater ecosystem stability.

The final advantage is that the more tokens are staked, the fewer there are in circulation, which puts upward pressure on the price since there is less supply. This is undoubtedly an important consideration for those who wish to invest in Astar.

Operator Trading

This is a smart contract administration feature. It allows for contract encryption and transfer of ownership. Operator Trading is a method for acquiring and selling Astar applications. This resembles M&A in many ways. Validators are likely to profit greatly thanks to the Dapp Rewards mechanism.

A developer may choose to use an operator for chain upkeep and administration. These operators will allocate the appropriate authorities to the relevant components. Redemption rights are available to those who have been given permission by the owner. A new off-chain realm will be generated with this method.

Astar (ASTR) Token Utility

ASTR is the utility and governance token of the Astar Network, similar to many Layer 1 Blockchain networks. Users will first have to pay for gas expenses and execute smart contracts using ASTR tokens. Moreover, tokenholders will be able to vote on network policy and choose council members.

Furthermore, ASTR is used for both network and dApp staking. Stakers may stake ASTR in order to become a validator or delegate on the network consensus, and they receive ASTR as compensation. Users can either stake their ASTR to participate in the network consensus or delegate their tokens to projects working on the Astar network to receive ASTR.

Finally, ASTR tokens will be used to keep the layer 2 application status. Developers must deposit ASTR on the Astar Network’s primary level in order to deploy dApps on the layer 2 system.

Astar Governance

There is presently little information available about Astar Governance. The on-chain governance module of Astar Network is still in the preliminary stages.

Given that Astar Network is built on Polkadot with Substrate, it’s conceivable that the team will utilize a similar governance architecture as Polkadot. The following are the key governance components of Polkadot: democracy, council, technical committee, and treasury.

Meanwhile, Astar Network has a Governance forum where members of the community can voice their concerns about Lockdrop claims schedules, builders programs, and more.

Wrapping Up

Astar Network is a multi-VM Blockchain platform that enables developers to deploy dApps on multiple VMs, including EVM and WASM. The Astar team has also developed a unique staking mechanism called Dapp Staking, which allows developers to earn rewards for developing dApps on the Astar Network.

The Astar token is the native currency of the Astar Network and is used to pay for gas, staking, and voting. The Astar team is currently working on a governance module that will allow tokenholders to vote on network policies.

It is still too early to say how successful Astar Network will be. However, the team has made a strong case for why their platform is worth paying attention to. The multi-VM support and unique staking mechanism are both novel features that could give Astar a competitive edge in the blockchain space.

Only time will tell whether or not Astar Network can live up to its promise.

Aris Ioannou
Aris Ioannou
Aris created Coinavalon with the purpose of helping the average person navigate the decentralized web. Aris has been passively in the space since 2017 and full time since late 2020. Before Coinavalon, Aris worked as a Business & IT Architect in the financial services sector. Aris holds an MSc in Advanced Computing from Imperial College London, a BSc in Computer Engineering from University of Cyprus and currently pursuing an MBA degree from CIIM.

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