IOTA launches alpha version of smart contract platform

Next big step – IOTA launches alpha version of smart contract platform

German „blockchain project“ IOTA (MIOTA) is taking the next big step towards introducing smart contracts with the launch of the alpha phase of the IOTA Smart Contracts Protocol (ISCP).

Accordingly, as announced yesterday (Thursday), the project has thus released a more stable version of its smart contract platform, which was previously still in a pre-alpha phase. The new version already implements the Bitcoin Supersplit review technology much better, which means developers are now able to compile and test smart contracts for the first time. The smart contracts of the IOTA network are based on the framework of Rust and WebAssembly, which gives them a development environment similar to newer smart contract platforms such as Polkadot and Near.

Furthermore, the ISCP has similarities to projects based on sharding technology. Side-chains operated via the smart contracts would act as layer-2, which in turn would be validated by IOTA’s tangle. As a reminder, IOTA is not a „classic“ decentralised blockchain, but a centralised Directed Acyclic Graph. However, the validators do not have to validate all side chains at the same time, because each smart contract chain can determine its own validation mechanism. This allows both public and private chains to be created for commercial projects, which is one of the most important innovations for IOTA.

Ethereum Virtual Machine and associated smart contracts

With the release of the alpha version, the IOTA team particularly wants to attract developers from the fields of Decentralised Financial Services (DeFi) and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) to their own project, in order to tie in with two of the hottest trends in the crypto industry. However, the move to IOTA is not quite as easy for developers as other projects, which often just transfer the programming code of a similar Ethereum project to a new blockchain. However, due to the use of the WebAssembly framework, this is not easily possible. In the long term, however, IOTA aims to have every developer level involved, which is why the Ethereum Virtual Machine and associated smart contracts will be supported in the next upgrades.

The smart contracts alpha is being launched alongside the GoShimmer testnet, the latter being a network that operates without IOTA’s usual central coordinator. The „Mana“ module, planned for later this month, should make it possible to weave ISCP chains directly into the Shimmer test network. Until then, developers can at least create isolated testnets to design DApps on the background of IOTA.

An IOTA spokesperson confirms to Cointelegraph that smart contracts are an important step towards coordicide, which in turn marks the launch of IOTA 2.0 by doing away with the central coordinator and making the network more similar to a „real“ blockchain:

„The goal of the ISCP is to usher in the construction of the fully decentralised IOTA network without a coordinator. To this end, we are also launching GoShimmer, and we are confident that we will achieve our goal by the end of the year.“

The current release of the alpha version underlines that the IOTA team wants to move the project forward in leaps and bounds and build a developer community. Nevertheless, the network still has some catching up to do, as many other smart contract platforms are already well ahead of it.