7 Key Takeaways From Smart Contract Summit #1
Smart Contract Summit #1 is officially over! From our talented speakers and panelists to our overwhelmingly enthusiastic community members, thank you to everyone who helped make the summit one of the blockchain industry’s biggest events of 2021.
15,000+ attendees from 140+ countries around the globe came together to hear from 200+ industry-leading founders, researchers, and developers as they explored the most important innovations and collaborations across the blockchain ecosystem. From developer speed runs and cutting-edge research into fair transaction ordering to new enterprise players entering the blockchain space to Sergey Nazarov’s monumental keynote announcing the Cross-Chain Interoperability Protocol (CCIP), SmartCon #1 offered an exciting snapshot of the massive wave of innovation happening across the smart contract space.
While there are too many important developments to count, here’s a recap of the most significant announcements and trends from this year’s summit.
1. Off-Chain and Cross-Chain Services Are Giving Developers A Next-Generation Toolkit for Building dApps
With the rise of hybrid smart contracts, developers are realizing the power of secure off-chain services for broadening the functionalities of dApps, ranging from verifiable randomness to low-cost automation. SmartCon gave attendees insight into the continued expansion of trust-minimized off-chain computations powered by the Chainlink Network, including the launch of Chainlink Keepers on mainnet, an introduction to Chainlink Fair Sequencing Service (FSS), and the announced Cross-Chain Interoperability Protocol (CCIP):
- Chainlink Co-founder Sergey Nazarov announced the Cross-Chain Interoperability Protocol (CCIP), a new open-source standard for how smart contracts will interoperate across blockchains, enabling both cross-chain messaging/commands and token movements. CCIP aims to establish a universal connection between hundreds of blockchain networks, both private and public, unlocking isolated tokens and empowering cross-chain applications for all on-chain ecosystems.
- The mainnet launch of Chainlink Keepers gives developers a highly secure and reliable way to automate smart contracts based on predefined conditions—removing manual processes, introducing advanced dApp use cases, and shifting resources back to core product development.
- Ari Juels, Chainlink Labs’ Chief Scientist, explained how Chainlink Fair Sequencing Services (FSS), currently in development, will provide a decentralized solution to the widely discussed problem of miner-extractable value (MEV), establishing a more economically fair system for transaction order integrity across the blockchain space.
2. Global Enterprises Are Moving On-Chain
This year’s SmartCon showcased how some of the largest enterprises in the world are ramping up their infrastructure to support various decentralized applications by bringing valuable data and services to smart contract developers.
- Google Cloud is collaborating with Chainlink to enable smart contracts to query NOAA weather datasets on Google BigQuery for powering on-chain parametric insurance based on reliable weather measurements from 9000+ stations.
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network has collaborated with Chainlink Labs on the AWS Chainlink Quickstart—a one-click solution for launching a highly secure, available, and production-ready Chainlink node on the AWS Cloud in just minutes.
- Swisscom, the leading telecommunications firm in Switzerland, is now running its own Chainlink node to further secure Chainlink Data Feeds, adding another layer of robust security and decentralization to the industry’s most widely used price feeds.
3. Smart Contracts Are Advancing Social Impact, From Financial Inclusion to Environmental Sustainability
Multiple speakers came on-stage to explain how blockchain technology and smart contracts can be harnessed to further social impact initiatives and enable a more open, fair, and transparent global economic system.
- In a social impact roundtable, leaders in social good projects from exMachina and GoodDollar discussed how blockchain technology and Chainlink decentralized oracles can solve critical problems in climate change and income disparity by leveraging automated, deterministic smart contracts connected to high-quality weather and market data.
- Marc Barasch from the Green World Campaign and Martin Wainstein from the Open Earth Foundation, a Chainlink Community Grant winner, discussed their initiatives to build an open-source infrastructure for accurately tracking carbon emissions through hybrid smart contracts.
- UNICEF-funded protocol Treejer spoke about using Chainlink VRF to generate 10,000 verifiably random NFTs that represent physical trees planted in the real world, incentivizing users to grant micro-loans for planters in rural areas.
- Seth Goldstein, Founder of blockchain-based startup ZuzLab, and entrepreneur Cemil Türün explained how digital identities and reputation can function as important tools for local communities to financially connect, reducing wealth inequalities and enabling sustainable local economies.
- CEO of Teller Labs Ryan Berkun, Fan Zhang, and Lorenz Breidenbach explained the use cases for DECO, a privacy-preserving oracle protocol for smart contracts that can transform data ownership in an open digital ecosystem.
4. CeFi Platforms Are Decentralizing While DeFi Accelerates
While DeFi platforms are rapidly advancing in adoption and innovation, a growing number of CeFi institutions are breaking into the blockchain ecosystem by decentralizing their infrastructure and integrating DeFi protocols to achieve more reliable, transparent, and higher yield financial products.
- Celsius Network—a market-leading CeFi platform with $16B+ in digital asset holdings and 800k+ users—is now using Chainlink Price Feeds to determine the borrowing rates for its protocol, marking the first time a centralized financial platform is issuing loans based on a fully decentralized and transparent pricing mechanism.
- Founders from Ampleforth, Frax Finance, Fei Protocol, and TrustToken discussed the future of stablecoins, ranging from algorithmic currency to reserve-backed tokens, and how they leverage Chainlink Keepers and Proof of Reserve to ensure fully autonomous and transparent protocols.
- Ed Felten, Co-founder of Offchain Labs, expanded on how Arbitrum, a Layer-2 protocol built on top of Ethereum, is making transactions on the network faster, cheaper, and more scalable with its flagship rollup chain Arbitrum One, which has an extensive list of ecosystem partners ready for beta and mainnet launch.
5. Gaming and DeFi Are Converging Around Dynamic NFTs
A wide range of project leaders within the NFT space came to SmartCon to showcase a new generation of gaming dApps, from play-to-earn NFT applications to multi-game platforms that use DeFi-wrapped NFTs as playable characters. The Chainlink Network provides a broad scope of oracle functions for this emerging wave of blockchain games, such as linking in-game tokens to off-chain data, generating tamper-proof randomness for in-game battle royales, and automatically harvesting in-game yields.
- Axie Infinity Co-founder Aleksander Larsen walked attendees through the Axie team’s journey building the popular play-to-earn game, expanding on the importance of in-game economics to create sustainable and lasting play-to-earn platforms.
- Aavegotchi Co-founder Jesse Johnson showcased aToken-powered Aavegotchis, dynamic NFTs used within games that are minted from tokens borrowed on the Aave protocol and that leverage Chainlink VRF to create a verifiably random and provably fair player experience.
- NFT-based project founders and large blockchain ecosystems for NFTs like South Korea’s Klaytn came together to discuss the play-to-earn revolution, different aspects of GameFi, and the introduction of dynamic NFTs into the metaverse and mainstream.
6. Ecosystem-Wide Initiatives Are Pushing Smart Contract Innovation Forward
With the rapidly expanding multi-chain ecosystem, projects at all layers of the Web 3.0 stack and across multiple blockchains are working together to explore new smart contract use cases and provide greater functionality to dApps, from confidentiality-preserving mechanisms to cross-chain development.
- Former CTO of Coinbase and GP of a16z Balaji Srinivasan announced a collaboration with Chainlink on funding the development of a decentralized and censorship-resistant inflation dashboard that will provide a cryptographically-signed source of truth of global inflation. The winners will get a $100k investment from Balaji and a $100k grant from the Chainlink Grant Program.
- Celsius announced their plans to leverage the Cross-Chain Interoperability Protocol (CCIP) within yield generation activities, so that securely locked funds can be moved across any blockchain network.
- Prominent academics from the Smart Contract Research Forum, Carnegie Mellon, and the Frankfurt School came together in a panel discussion to explore various consensus mechanisms and privacy solutions such as zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) that can facilitate institutional blockchain adoption.
- Chainlink and Filecoin launched a joint grant program to empower developers to build hybrid smart contracts that leverage bi-directional connectivity between Chainlink decentralized oracles and Filecoin immutable storage.
7. The Demand Is Surging for Cryptographic Truth
The bottom line takeaway from SmartCon #1 is what Chainlink Co-founder Sergey Nazarov emphasized in his keynote after walking through a brief and pointed history about trust-based contracts: cryptographic truth is strictly better than weak “just trust us” paper promises that have historically failed society. The continued influx of users into the DeFi ecosystem and increasing adoption of smart contracts by major enterprises is proof of this global realization.
The wide range of projects and sectors represented at SmartCon over the past three days—from DeFi protocols to CeFi institutions to gaming dApps to insurance giants to leaders in cloud computing—clearly evidences the cross-industry interest in building decentralized systems that link everything to cryptographic truth and ultimately enable a fair, unbiased world.
Join the Chainlink Ecosystem
Thank you again to everyone who helped make Smart Contract Summit #1 such a capstone event for our industry. None of it would have been possible without the amazing speakers, developers, researchers, and attendees who all came together to celebrate the rapid advancements that have taken place this past year.
To stay up-to-date on the latest Chainlink developments, follow Chainlink on Twitter, sign up for the Chainlink newsletter, and subscribe to the Chainlink YouTube Channel. For those wishing to rewatch presentations, panels, and other events that took place over the past 3 days, we’ll be adding recordings of SmartCon events to the Chainlink YouTube channel, so stay tuned.