What is Cardano?
Cardano is a layer-1 blockchain protocol that works as a platform for smart contracts. Basically, it means that Cardano can be home to decentralized applications (dApps) and other tokens too. It was founded by one of the Ethereum co-founders, Charles Hoskinson, as to be a more sustainable, energy efficient, and scalable alternative to its competitors. Cardano uses proof-of-stake as its consensus mechanism, and ADA is the native token that powers the network. Users can use ADA to execute smart contracts, pay for transactions and even do staking and become a node of the blockchain.
What makes it unique?
Cardano is natively a proof-of-stake algorithm, which is less energy consuming and more scalable than blockchains that use proof-of-work. However, the mechanism developed by Cardano is exclusive from them, researched and tested by their own team before being implemented and asserted to be a safe way to secure the blockchain;
Each feature is peer-reviewed before it can be tested, and well tested before it goes online. The team of Cardano developers believe that a blockchain is too complex to be created and sustained without deep thought, so they dedicate most of their time doing research.
Cardano wants to be a fault-proof blockchain for companies and independent developers to create and run their applications and projects. They want to be both decentralized, secure, and scalable, without falling short to the blockchain trilemma (having to pick two of them in sacrifice of the third). To do so, they rely heavily on research and peer-review of every feature they launch. The pros is that the blockchain is highly stable and secure. The cons is that it takes longer than other blockchains to launch features. However, in 2021, they launched two major updates that allowed ADA hodlers to become nodes, and smart contracts to be developed on top of the blockchain. They go slow, but steady, and can deliver all they promise to deliver.