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Stellar Introduces Smart Contracts with Protocol 20 Upgrade

Reviewing Stellar's new smart contracts and other innovations of late

After 16 months of rigorous testing on the testnet, the much-anticipated introduction of Stellar's smart contracts is set to revolutionize the platform's capabilities. On February 20th, the SDF announced the successful activation of the "Protocol 20" upgrade, a foundational step that brings to the Stellar Mainnet new smart contract functionalities, promising to usher in "a new era" for its technological stack.

Stellar (@StellarOrg):

“Stellar's Protocol 20 is officially live, bringing smart contracts to Stellar Mainnet!

We've laid the groundwork, hitting major milestones along the way; but this is just the beginning:

Phase 0⃣ for rock-solid stability ✅
Phase 1⃣ for rigorous testing
Phase 2⃣ for… pic.twitter.com/Zq0FDYU6fd

This advancement is not just a technical leap forward but also aims at enhancing the developer experience by supporting the Rust and WebAssembly languages, known for their efficiency and user-friendliness. The introduction of smart contracts on Stellar is poised to open up a myriad of possibilities for decentralized applications (DApps), enabling developers to create innovative protocols and applications on the network. Stellar's move towards smart contracts was meticulously planned, with the SDF overcoming a critical bug in Stellar Core that delayed the initial rollout.

Stellar is not only expanding its ecosystem but also setting the stage for scalable and efficient decentralized solutions, ensuring predictable fees and independent resource pricing through its smart contract platform, Soroban.

Soroban platform and market impact

The Soroban platform, Stellar's answer to the growing demand for scalable and user-friendly smart contract capabilities, first saw the light on the testnet in October 2022. Designed from the ground up to cater to the Stellar network's developer community, Soroban sets itself apart with its emphasis on scalability, featuring predictable fees and a pricing model that independently values resources. 

In tandem with the technical rollout, the SDF has put its weight behind fostering development on Soroban, launching a $100 million funding initiative aimed at enticing developers to explore and innovate on the platform. 

Despite these advancements and the optimistic outlook for Stellar's technological infrastructure, the market's immediate reaction has been tepid. The network's native token, XLM, saw a modest decline, failing to catch the wave of the broader 2024 crypto market rally. As of now, XLM trades at $0.116, a slight decrease over the past 24 hours, and remains significantly down from its all-time high.