EP025 – Building on Cardano with Smart Contracts

Episode by Peter Bui on September 14th, 2021

The time has finally arrived for the era of smart contracts on Cardano.

It has been a long time coming with years of research and development and a slow and methodical rollout of the new layer of the Cardano blockchain.

Many harsh critics have commented on Caradno for not having the ability to run and execute smart contracts. That narrative has now changed from not having any developers or decentralised applications to being only able to have 1 transaction per 20 seconds.

At the time of writing the show notes for this podcast episode, there is just a huge amount of activity happening on the Cardano blockchain. Everything from stable coins, decentralised exchanges all the way to various NFTs and their related use cases to oracles and decentralised finance protocols.

In this episode, we’ll be looking at a few highlight projects that are building on Cardano, how smart contracts are done and how they differ from other blockchains and what the future might look like when it comes to smart contract development.

In this week’s interview, Chris Swenor, the CEO and co-founder of Reach.sh, joins me to talk about their blockchain development language, Reach. It is used to write blockchain agnostic smart contact on multiple different blockchains. It minimises the amount of code required and takes out almost all of the headaches required when it comes to the development, auditing and deployment of your code.

Who is Building on Cardano

Compared to the beginning of the year, the activity in the Cardano ecosystem has increased significantly. So many more projects have started building on Cardano, for the Cardano ecosystem or are moving their projects over to Cardano.

A great source of projects in the ecosystem is Project Catalyst. As part of the governance layer of Cardano, there are several challenges set in place every few months with large amounts of funds available for projects to iterate, evolved and developed in the ecosystem. At the moment there are challenges such as the “Developer Ecosystem” which has $1,005,000 USD

If you want to have an idea of who is building on Cardano, that is the first place to look. Unfortunately, you have to log into the website on IdeaScale to be able to see any of the project proposals but at least it is a centralised place where you can see projects.


A more public source of projects is Trading with Paul’s BuildingOnCardano.com website. This site showcases various projects that have been submitted and checked by the team managing the website.


A nice way to see everything at a glance is with an infographic produced by @cardains_

May 26th 2021
August 31st 2021

This infographic isn’t even accurate with various projects that I’m aware of that are not included in the current graphic.

If you want to learn more about some of the projects, we have done plenty of interviews with some of them over the past few months as they have been launching their marketing and development plans.


One interesting project that isn’t on the list is ADAHandle, this allows you to claim a handle or username to be able to accept ADA. Instead of providing a long wallet address, you will be able to provide a short human-readable handle that will translate into a wallet address and allow for transfers to the handle instead of a lengthy was llet address. at the moment you can reserve your handle.

The Team at 5iveBinaries were the first to execute a smart contract on Cardano.


In a recent tweet, we’ve also seen the execution of NFT traded by a smart contract on testnet.

Successful smart contract trade on testnet

We have also seen the first NFT created by a smart contract on mainnet


How Are Smart Contracts Written and How they Differ from Other Blockchains

Ethereum uses solidity as its smart contract language. Solidity is designed to be similar to JavaScript, a common web programming language to help reduce the learning curve for new developers. It allows the onboarding of developers easily to the ecosystem. Any good Javascript developer can easily pick up Solidity and start developing smart contracts for Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain.   

Cardano uses Plutus which is built on Haskell for its smart contracts. Haskell is a functional programming language. As opposed to the more commonly used imperative language, a functional language combines coding with advanced mathematics.


Did you know that Facebook implements its anti-spam programs in Haskell, maintaining the underlying data access library as open-source software?

Now, this is a double-edged sword.

Utilizing the functional approach allows you to mathematically prove to an extremely high degree of accuracy if a code has any flaws or not (aka formal verification). The learning curve is high.

If you’re interested in programming on Plutus, I’d recommend starting with the Plutus pioneers program.

This course will take you through the necessary overview of smart contracts on Cardano with Plutus and take you to the point of being able to write a simple swap contract to build a decentralised exchange.


How to Write a Cardano Smart Contract with Reach


Chris mentions that he’s actually been in the Cardano ecosystem from the very early days.



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