news and opinion|21 December 2023|share

Driving Blockchain Technology: Cardano Foundation’s activities part 6

David TaylorChief Marketing Officer

The Cardano Foundation has a mandate to promote the adoption of decentralized technologies among businesses, institutions, and various organizations worldwide. Embracing blockchain, and specifically Cardano, means prioritizing transparency, security, and inclusivity while also empowering individuals and organizations to refine the financial, governance, and social systems of today.

Adoption of new technologies often fosters innovation. The Foundation’s technical collaboration with Epoch Sports and Merchadise developed new standards for verifying and reinforcing a product’s authenticity. Similarly, the Foundation and Switzerland for UNHCR collaboration has already spanned a variety of initiatives with direct impact on-chain as well as on the support given to forcibly displaced people.

A humanitarian approach to Cardano adoption

Switzerland for UNHCR’s With Refugees Stake Pool (WRFGS) stake pool tests new models for philanthropy, providing donors with a reliable, auditable way of generating the possibility of continuous resources for humanitarian aid. Supported by Taurus, the [WRFGS] pool enables a large community of both tech-minded and traditional donors to help make a difference. As part of Cardano’s second Global Impact Challenge, the charity stake pool launched with a stake delegation by the Cardano Foundation of 3.5 million ada, the native token of the Cardano blockchain.

Let's Talk Cardano - Blockchain for Social Impact

“Let’s Talk Cardano” returned on World Refugee Day for a webinar about the potential of NFTs for humanitarian aid. The panel, moderated by Dan Friedman (IOHK Business Development Manager), included Alex Maaza (Outreach Development Officer at the Cardano Foundation), John Valdez (GOAT Tribe CMO), Chadi Nassar (Plutus Art Co-Founder), and Ruxanda Cornescu (CH4UNHCR Representative). Sandro Knöpfel,  Head of Financial and Regulated Institutions at the Foundation, and Alvaro Cosi, Head of Communications and Innovation at UNHCR, also joined the Sygnum Bank podcast early in the year to discuss how blockchain can help to solve humanitarian challenges.

The Foundation has likewise facilitated introductions across the Cardano community, leading to multiple projects working in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency’s Swiss partner to help the refugee cause. In February 2023, Maaza attended NFT Paris to hold meetings with Clay Nation, NMKR, and UNHCR. The following month, Switzerland for UNHCR partnered with NMKR and TURF to launch a series of exclusive NFTs in support of forcibly displaced people. Soon after, Switzerland for UNHCR launched a second series of exclusive NFTs in support of forcibly displaced people—only available during Consensus 2023. HOSKY, the Cardano-based meme token, also partnered with the [WRFGS] stake pool to assist UNHCR in addressing the most pressing needs of refugees.

Switzerland for UNHCR

Later in the year, Maaza and Jeremy Firster, Global Director of Enterprise Partnerships at the Foundation, joined GOAT Tribe for a Twitter Space discussion on how NFTs can make a difference. Maaza also took part in the AdaGoats x Dramz Auction House Twitter Space discussion on sustainability, the Cardano Global Initiative challenges, and the Foundation’s role in the ecosystem.

In June, Italian artist Fabio Giampietro created an exclusive Art Basel 2023 NFT to support UNHCR’s relief operations in the field, with the NMKR Cardano project minting this ''Eternal Nexus'' collection. Equally leveraging the possibilities of the Cardano blockchain, GOAT Tribe launched the “Kind Hoofs” initiative in the same month. These unique NFTs contributed to the [WRFGS] stake pool, further supporting the efforts of Switzerland for UNHCR.

Powering Cardano adoption

From art to fashion, and from merchandise to food products or medical supplies, blockchain can guarantee a permanent, verifiable register by creating immutable records of physical goods on-chain. In July 2023, the Foundation supported US-based sports brand, Epoch Sports, and the full-stack apparel ecosystem, Merchadise, to launch 6000 limited edition commemorative lacrosse jerseys—all authenticated on the Cardano blockchain and distributed during the 2023 World Lacrosse Men's Championship. A limited number of commemorative jerseys were also later available on the Official 2023 World Lacrosse Championship’s web store.

Technical collaboration with Epoch Sports & Merchadise - 6000 NFTs minted

Simultaneously, the Foundation has increased its efforts to nurture the growth and maturity of Cardano’s open source ecosystem, promoting and contributing to open source initiatives such as Aiken. In partnership with TxPipe and born from the collaboration of diverse contributors, Aiken simplifies and enhances smart contract development, providing a more user-friendly and efficient experience for developers. Specifically, Aiken utilizes a C-family syntax similar to Rust and Typescript, making it familiar and accessible. It also introduces features such as quick compiler feedback, automatic code formatting, and a comprehensive toolkit for working with Cardano smart contracts. Aiken highlights the potential of open source development and community collaboration—evolving from a conversation among engineers to an alpha release within a year.

As Aiken enters its alpha phase, developers are encouraged to explore its capabilities through tutorials and contribute to its growth, with thorough audits planned to ensure enterprise-grade robustness. Beyond Aiken, the Foundation continues to work towards blockchain adoption on multiple fronts, releasing several noteworthy products that will continue to evolve and contribute to the ecosystem. As we look towards the future, the Cardano Foundation wishes everyone a happy, festive season and a wonderful 2024.