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Smart Contracts

IOHK launches secure smart contracts technology

Tony Zerucha



IOHK, a blockchain research and development company, today announced two tools developed by a team for writing smart contracts for the Cardano blockchain.

Marlowe and Plutus launched in test format at the first PlutusFest conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, a public event including academics, business professionals and developers. These powerful tools will enable start-ups, the financial services and fintech industries, and academia to prepare blockchain contracts that will run on Cardano.

Plutus provides a general purpose programming language and tools for Cardano. IOHK’s scientists and engineers have combined the discipline of the Haskell functional language with Cardano to create a platform for fintech developers to write secure and robust smart contracts. IOHK has provided an easy-to-use exploratory development and testing environment for Plutus contracts based on a novel blockchain emulator, called Plutus Playground. These contracts are ready to be deployed to the blockchain itself.

For non-programmers, Marlowe is a simple way to generate code and create software products. It is an easy-to-use tool enabling professionals in the finance industry who have no programming background to build automated financial contracts on the blockchain. Marlowe comes with its own web-based testbed, Meadow.

“We’re really excited to release testbeds of Plutus and Marlowe so developers, finance professionals and academics can test how they can use smart contracts on Cardano,” IOHK CEO Charles Hoskinson said. “Both technologies are a major step forward for the blockchain industry. They have been rigorously designed by a team of leading experts in programming language design, with the aim of reducing the kinds of software bugs that have led to huge losses totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) – which sets standards for a market with notional amounts outstanding of almost $600 trillion – has recently published its Common Domain Model. This common foundation will allow distributed ledger technology such as Plutus and Marlowe to be introduced to the industry.

“IOHK is unique among cryptocurrency firms for its insistence on basing its development on peer-reviewed research, and one of the few to support rapid and reliable development by using the functional language Haskell,” IOHK area leader for programming Philip Wadler said. “Plutus continues these trends. Where programming Ethereum requires coding in two languages, Solidity for the on-chain code and Javascript for the off-chain parts, and other systems suffer a similar split, Plutus is the only system that provides an integrated language for both, based on Haskell. Its core language for on-chain code has been kept extremely simple to make it future-proof and so it supports verification.” 

The first PlutusFest, which brings these innovations to prominence, will be hosted by the Edinburgh Blockchain Technology Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh this month. This facility was established in February 2017 as the headquarters for IOHK’s network of global university partnerships. Edinburgh is the centre for Scotland’s financial services industry, the largest in the UK outside London.

Tony Zerucha

Tony Zerucha is an alternative finance journalist with more than seven years experience in the space. The author of more than 1,000 articles, Tony was named LendIt's 2018 Journalist of the Year.

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