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Polkadot currently sits ranked 9th according to CoinMarketCap with a market valuation of over $25 billion and 1 billion DOT in circulation.
Polkadot is a next generation blockchain platform that links multiple blockchains into a unified network. By allowing cross-chain communication, Polkadot aims to overcome transaction speed bottlenecks that limit the scalability of older networks. Polkadot has seen rapid growth in its first year, and some investors consider it an alternative to Ethereum in the decentralized finance (De-Fi) space.
The core of Polkadot is its Relay Chain. The Relay Chain is responsible for the network’s security features, the creation of new DOTs, Polkadot’s native token, and acts as a hub for individual blockchains, running in parallel to centrally connect to. The Relay Chain allows different projects to share Polkadot’s security architecture meaning that developers don’t have to spend time developing their own security features or risk falling prey to cyberattacks.
Polkadot uses a nominated Proof-of-Stake (nPoS) system for the creation of new DOT tokens. Existing DOT holders stake their tokens to validate and nominate new blocks to the Relay Chain. As a reward for this, the validators and nominators are rewarded with new DOT tokens, proportional to their initial stake. There is no numerical cap on the creation of new DOT tokens.
Polkadot has some similarities to Ethereum but adds some unique features that make it stand out. To start, Polkadot is capable of forkless upgrades. When older blockchain platforms upgrade, a ‘fork’ can result, creating incompatibility between newer and older versions, like the fork that led to the split between Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC). However, Polkadot’s network allows for seamless on-chain upgrades without splitting chains and running the risk of creating multiple transaction records.
Another standout feature of Polkadot is its cross-chain interoperability. Older blockchain networks are standalone environments, but Polkadot allows cross-chain communication, including communications between blockchains and ‘oracle chains’ – chains with access to real-time, off-chain data. Polkadot’s Relay Chain also uses ‘bridges’, specialized chains that allow connections to external networks, like Bitcoin or Ethereum.
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