Cardano is a smart contract platform founded in 2017 by Charles Hoskinson, who was also one of the cofounders of the Ethereum network. Like Ethereum, Cardano aims to use smart contract technology to create decentralized applications, however defers in its design principles. It was one of the first projects to commit to the proof of stake consensus protocol. Today, Cardano is very much a nascent network with a strong research foundation but somewhat slow implementation progress.
ADA is the digital currency in the Cardano ecosystem. It can be used as a transfer of value and for staking and voting on proposed protocol changes. In the future, ADA will also be used to power native smart contracts.
The Cardano blockchain consists of two core components to increase efficiency and scalability: (1) a settlement layer acting as a unit of account and where ADA can be sent and received, and (2) a computational layer helping to run smart contracts.
Cardano is the first project “founded on peerreviewed research and developed through evidence-based methods.”