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The Cardano Incentivized Testnet Draws to a Close – What’s Next?

The highly anticipated Shelley mainnet is on track for rollout on July 29th, 2020. Shelley is all about decentralizing the Cardano network, of which a key component of this development phase is staking rewards for token holders.

IOHK CEO, Charles Hoskinson previously stated that mainnet staking rewards can be earned from August 18th onwards.

Cardano Bryon to Shelley rollout plan

With that, the incentivized testnet (ITN), which started over seven months ago, is set to become redundant.

The incentivized testnet, in which real ADA tokens could be earned, is widely regarded as a success for Cardano.

Not only did it facilitate real-world game theory, from which the Shelley mainnet could be developed, but metrics show over one thousand stake pool operators came on board, and 38% of the ADA supply was delegated during the process.

What Now For The ITN?

As the ITN draws to a close, many are wondering what happens next. After all, the ITN infrastructure took considerable time and effort to build.

The ITN features a different codebase to the mainnet, being developed in Rust, whereas the mainnet is built on Haskell. This raises questions over the usefulness of the ITN going forward.

On that note, as pointed out by Cardano Dan, allowing the ITN to die away would be wasteful.

“It would be a shame for all of this hard work and success to go to waste. After all, the ITN is one of, if not the most, decentralized blockchain in the world.”

But then again, the success of the ITN boiled down to both stake pool operators and ADA holders being incentivized to participate.

Should the ITN live on, a new incentivize must be offered, and in doing so could potentially compete with the Shelley mainnet. Alternatively, insufficient rewards would see it wither away.

Cardano Reaches Out to the Crypto Community

Charles Hoskinson tweeted his thoughts on the situation. He proposed to extend the use of the ITN by making it a rapid testing network for Cardano.

However, in line with governance objectives, the final say would come down to majority rule. In a post from the IOHK team, it was stated that stake pool operators could vote on what happens next.

“This latest version (0.9.0) contains what you might call… an ‘Easter egg’ if you like; a special embedded CLI-based voting capability for stake pool operators to access.”

Before any final decision is made, the entire Cardano community will also have the opportunity to vote on what they believe should happen next.

In terms of incentivization to keep the ITN running, IOHK has stated that 95 million ADA will be made available to continue operations. However, if the community votes no, those tokens will not be exported to the mainnet.

“If the community votes for ‘Yes’, we will earmark 95M test ADA to the rewards pot. This is an amount equivalent to the monthly total rewards payout on the ITN, which we feel is fair. This amount will be visible on the blockchain and via the explorer backend.”

The future of the ITN is at a critical juncture, events of the coming weeks will determine whether it gets to live on, albeit under a different guise.

While both IOHK and Charles Hoskinson have openly supported the idea of continuing with the ITN, does the Cardano community feel the same?

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