Is Kadena the Bitcoin Killer? Everything You Need to Know

Is Kadena the Bitcoin Killer? Everything You Need to Know

Is Kadena the proof-of-work blockchain Bitcoin was meant to be? Did Bitcoin walk so that Kadena could fly? Here's how Kadena will secure blockchain's future.

Is Kadena the Bitcoin Killer? Everything You Need to Know
Guy Ovadia

Published Jan 28, 2022Updated Feb 1, 2022

Crypto

Crypto

Beginner

Beginner

Active Investing

Active Investing

In This Article

Past Year

It has been almost a decade and a half since the conception of the first peer-to-peer electronic cash system, AKA Bitcoin. While proponents of cryptocurrency would like to believe that mainstream adoption is just around the corner, this is often wishful thinking. But, that may change with Kadena, arguably the first blockchain designed for mainstream adoption.

Kadena is an open-source proof-of-work (PoW) blockchain with a proprietary multichain architecture. It claims to be the first of its kind to scale limitlessly without compromising security, speed, or energy efficiency. Kadena may sound too good to be true, but it is the innovation behind this new chain that is key to understanding what makes it unique and whether or not it's a good investment. 

What is Kadena?

Kadena is a blockchain platform similar to Bitcoin because it uses a PoW consensus mechanism, meaning it is secured by a network of computers called miners. However, it was created to address some of the fundamental problems with Bitcoin's proof-of-work design. 

In a proof-of-work system, miners contribute their computing power to a pool and that pool validates the transactions stored on the blockchain. When a Bitcoin miner validates a block, they are awarded newly minted Bitcoin (BTC) tokens. Although PoW is the most tried-and-tested validation mechanism, it's not without valid criticisms.

Bitcoin's problems with low throughput and high energy consumption

For starters, a major problem Bitcoin faces is its energy consumption. Politicians, journalists, and even blockchain developers have decried Bitcoin's PoW network for consuming more electricity than the average European country. Because Bitcoin mining gets progressively more demanding, being a PoW miner is prohibitively expensive and extremely competitive. 

High energy consumption is only a problem for Bitcoin because of its inability to scale. Bitcoin can process an average of four transactions per second (TPS), which is pathetic compared to Visa's 1,700 TPS. Because Visa uses a fraction of the energy Bitcoin does, it is the latter's extremely low throughput—meaning very few TPS— that makes its level of energy consumption inexcusable.

How does Kadena solve Bitcoin's scaling issues?

Kadena's multichain architecture, called Chainweb, is how it's able to solve the problems which plague Bitcoin. Chainweb is a type of PoW that allows Kadena to scale—meaning increase TPS—without impacting energy consumption or compromising the unrivaled security of PoW. 

Kadena pioneered a scaling method called braiding which enables it to process over 200 times more transactions per second than Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Visa combined. On top of all that, the cost of conducting transactions on Kadena is marginal. It certainly sounds magical, but how does it really work?

What is Kadena built on?

Kadena is a hybrid platform that includes both a public blockchain (Chainweb) and a private blockchain (Kuro) built on top of it. Here's what you need to know about both.

How Chainweb works

Chainweb uses a combination of sharding and braiding to increase throughput. First, sharding is the common practice of spreading blockchain transactions across multiple shards rather than in individual blocks. Most proof-of-stake (PoS) sharding does not require validators to process every shard, leaving room for potential impropriety. Kadena provides miners with a financial incentive to validate shards by awarding them its native token, KDA. 

Kadena claims that the implementation of braiding allows the network to scale limitlessly. Although braiding is not a new technique, Chainweb's braided structure is innovative because it leverages the principle of graph theory. Without getting mathematical, Chainweb's braiding involves bundling a set of parallel blockchains into a single network. These parallel blockchains, known as peer chains, store data from three of its adjacent peer chains in addition to its own.

 

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Source: Medium.com

This method of braiding minimizes the number of interactions a peer chain must go through in order to stay in sync with the rest of the network. Kadena's Chainweb originally consisted of 10 parallel peer chains, but in August 2020, it was forked to upgrade the network from 10 peer chains to 20. As it turns out, this scaling upgrade had no impact on Kadena's energy consumption. This means that Kadena is able to increase throughput without increasing the amount of power it requires to operate, albeit anecdotally.

The fact that Kadena was able to scale to this level practically overnight is noteworthy, especially given the limited negative effects. Currently, Kadena claims Chainweb can handle an impressive 480,000 TPS, which is eight times more than Solana. This would mean that Kadena is currently the fastest public layer-1 blockchain. In addition to this, Kadena also built a private blockchain called Kuro in order to expand its Chainweb to industries that are just beginning to realize the benefits of blockchain technology.

What is Kuro? Kadena's plans for the future

Kuro is Kadena's private enterprise blockchain. It is permissioned—meaning private— because it was designed to use Chainweb to store sensitive data without exposing private information. Speaking of exposure, Kadena is already being used in the healthcare industry to store and maintain insurance information since 2018. 

Kadena is partnered with Rymedi, a North Carolina data services firm that focuses on serving sectors like healthcare, insurance, and the pharmaceutical industry. Last year, Rymedi joined an FDA-approved consortium to study how blockchain can be used to track and verify prescription drugs. If approved, Kadena could be used to provide patients with an immutable record of their prescriptions as well as accelerate the FDA approval process. 

In addition to partnering with established industries, Kadena also hopes to work with the emerging cannabis market. Kadena and Rymedi are launching an application that tracks CBD oil from manufacturers to consumers. While approval for the CBD tracking platform is still pending, and it won't operate on Kuro, this still goes to show that Kadena may have a future providing services to data-intensive fields like medicine. 

While that may sound great to some, others see this as the beginning of a dystopian future governed by blockchains. Leveraging the speed and efficiency of the blockchain is great for most applications, but Kadena is engaging with enterprises in which privacy is paramount. The safe-keeping of personal information is a valid concern, so how is Kadena addressing this?

Kadena's Pact: Making smart contracts secure

Pact is Kadena's native smart contract programming language. Unlike other smart contract programming languages—such as Ethereum's Solidity or Solana's Rust—Pact is a human-readable programming language with improved security and built-in features like formal verification and upgradable smart contracts.

Formal verification

One of Pact's main security features is formal verification, which is basically a spell-check for programmers. Formal verification is a tool that analyzes code using proofs. It then reports whether certain conditions can or cannot be met given every possible input. 

Pact's formal verification protects Kadena from human error and reduces the number of potential paths a hacker can use to attack the network. Basically, this allows blockchain developers to write code without being preoccupied about bugs or exploits because programmers are automatically alerted if they arise.

Smart contract mutability

One problem with most smart contract languages is the fact that they are immutable, meaning smart contracts can't be altered or amended after they're submitted to the blockchain. Pact changes that by enabling developers to upgrade existing smart contracts. 

This feature also benefits from formal verification. Users upgrading an existing smart contract won't be able to make any changes if their new code contains any bugs or unintended features. In Pact, developers don't need to abandon their old smart contracts in order to replace them with upgraded iterations.

Security

Pact is more secure than other programming languages because it is Turing-incomplete. Most modern programming languages, like JavaScript or Solidity, are Turing-complete or computationally universal, meaning they are powerful enough to manipulate a potentially endless set of data. 

Essentially, Pact sacrifices some advanced programming capabilities in exchange for increased security. This, however, doesn't put Kadena at a disadvantage because most other blockchains are not exploiting the full range of features offered by Turing-complete languages, anyway. 

Another aspect of Pact that makes it so secure is that it is Byzantine Fault Tolerant. This means that Kadena's network can continue operating even if a single component of that network malfunctions or misbehaves. This feature helps prevent system failure while keeping the network completely trustless, meaning you don't have to rely on any one party for it to work.

Who is behind Kadena?

The Kadena project was founded in 2016 by Stuart Popejoy and Will Martino. Popejoy and Martino are the former leaders of J.P. Morgan's emerging blockchain group and the former Tech Lead for the SEC's cryptocurrency steering committee, respectively. 

The duo first worked together developing JPM coin, J.P. Morgan's first blockchain, before leaving to form Kadena. Institutions like J.P. Morgan and the SEC are usually met with more skepticism than enthusiasm in the crypto space, and understandably so. Yet, the fact that these guys left their corporatocratic jobs to pursue a startup full-time earns them the benefit of the doubt.

The most notable member of the Kadena team is advisor Dr. Stuart Haber. Dr. Haber is a cryptography expert who co-invented blockchain alongside W. Scott Stornetta. Haber first created Blockchain technology as a way to authenticate digital documents decades prior to the advent of Bitcoin. 

Dr. Haber rose from obscurity to infamy by being the most cited author in Satoshi Nakamoto's Bitcoin whitepaper. Now a crypto titan, Haber continues to innovate blockchain technology as a pivotal contributor to Kadena.

Is Kadena a good investment?

Kadena is a very promising project, but the only good promises are the ones that Popejoy and Martino can deliver on. So far, this project has reached significant milestones and has made more headway than expected in regards to the institutional adoption of their blockchain.

Kadena's heritage in banking and regulation is not a particularly favorable aspect for most crypto purists. But, the project has not felt the warm embrace of institutional backing or even centralized exchanges. Instead, Kadena's founders are pursuing fiat onramps and are looking for ways to foster a DeFi ecosystem. This is a good sign if Kadena is ever going to be a sustainable project.

As far as its native token goes, KDA is a top 100 altcoin, reaching an all-time high of $28 last November. Although KDA was unable to sustain the growth it saw during last year's bull run, it has shown no signs of slowing down. If demand for Kadena will continue to increase, so will KDA's price. 

 

Although transaction fees are currently cheap, Kadena knows that the cost of operating the network could pose an obstacle for onboarding users. This is why Kadena created a feature called 'gas station' where one party can pay transaction fees on behalf of other users. This could help incentivize broader adoption by keeping the network affordable for popular applications even if, God forbid, transaction fees increase.

The big promise Kadena is making is the ability to scale without compromising the "battle-tested" security of PoW. While it is too early to tell whether Kadena can live up to the hype, a young project like this should be more than just a blip on your crypto investing radar.

How can I get KDA?

Currently, the best way to obtain KDA is to earn it by becoming a Kadena miner. While it is not recommended to mine Kadena using a consumer GPU, this doesn't mean you need an expensive ASIC miner, either. One way to obtain Kadena without buying hardware or purchasing it from an exchange is by subscribing to a developer cloud service. 

Kadena is like 20 bitcoin blockchains braided into a single cohesive network, which is pretty damn good as far as value propositions go. Since most people who want to get their hands on some KDA may not have the patience or technical know-how to mine it, here are some exchanges where it can be purchased:

  • KuCoin (limited in US)
  • Gate.io (limited in US)
  • CoinEx
  • Bittrex (not US)
  • BKEX (Not US)
  • OKX
  • CoinMetro

What is the title of the Bitcoin whitepaper?

What is the title of the Bitcoin whitepaper?