With another incredible year behind us, many major milestones reached, and an explosion of innovation throughout the growing Cosmos ecosystem, 2021 was an interstellar year. But launching IBC and completing the Cosmos whitepaper isn’t where our story ends. We’re only at the start of this amazing journey with so many exciting plans on the horizon and plenty of developments already in the pipeline for 2022. Check out the highlights.
There are many new features coming to the Cosmos Hub in 2022, with a major upgrade planned at least once a quarter. If you want to dive into the technical details and get the specs for all the separate upgrades, take a look at the Cosmos Hub Roadmap 2.0 on GitHub. If you want a birds-eye view, find the big stuff below — and why it matters to you.
Interchain Security is currently being developed by the Interchain Foundation and Informal Systems. This shared security service allows Cosmos chains to effectively lease security to each other so that new chains can bootstrap their economies and validators and delegators on larger chains can earn rewards for the service. Better yet, Interchain Security will allow validators and delegators to earn rewards on multiple chains in multiple tokens just by staking ATOM on the Hub. New chains will benefit from a robust validator security set and get their tokens in front of Cosmos community members in the early stages. At the same time, Cosmos Hub stakers get early access to innovative projects and increased utility for their ATOM.
Interchain Accounts will be landing on the Cosmos Hub with the completion of the Theta upgrade expected in Q1 2022. Interchain Accounts have several major implications for the Cosmos ecosystem, one of which is the power to elevate Cosmos DeFi to the next level. This is because Interchain Accounts allow ecosystem chains to securely control accounts on other ecosystem chains, rather than simply transferring tokens from one chain to another.
Consider Ethereum for a moment. Complex financial instruments are traded permissionlessly over a set of smart contracts, which each handle a part of an overall business process. In the Cosmos ecosystem, smart contracts don’t have immediate access to each other because each smart contract, or application, is essentially a blockchain itself.
With IBC, you can move tokens between networks, but you don’t have the ability to trigger an action on another chain as you do with smart contracts on Ethereum. Interchain Accounts change all that by providing the composability and interoperability that smart contracts need to create a DeFi explosion within application-specific blockchains!
Interchain Accounts will also make connecting with IBC easier for developers as new chains can leverage the functionalities and capabilities of existing accounts, rather than having to recreate these functionalities from scratch. You can read more about how Interchain Accounts change everything here.
The first version of Liquid Staking spearheaded by core Cosmos contributor and Iqulsion founder Zaki Manian is coming as early as February 2022 and is directly integrated into the Cosmos SDK. Version one of Liquid Staking will allow ATOM holders to send transactions that immediately convert their bonded ATOM into transferrable representations that can be used in liquidity pools and other activities. This opens up a realm of DeFi possibilities, allowing holders to maximize their ATOM while still earning staking rewards.
In V1 of Liquid Staking, the fluid tokens are bonded to the validator that the delegator stakes their ATOM with. However, this design can be restrictive and is not necessarily ideal. That’s why V2 of Liquid Staking is following quickly. The P2P team behind Lido has drafted a proposal that will make Liquid Staking a huge part of the Cosmos Hub. As one of Cosmos’ oldest validators, P2P developed the Liquid Staking solution for Ethereum 2.0 that allows people to stake their ether but use it at the same time. Lido now has 90% of all staked ether in ETH 2.0 and also runs Terra’s popular Liquid Staking implementation bLUNA.
Liquid Staking is hard to achieve without smart contracts, so the Cosmos Hub team will add CosmWasm to the Cosmos Hub, allowing Lido to create the smart contracts needed for this feature. In the future, having CosmWasm on the Hub could allow it to connect to any chain, and manage their staking procedures through the IBC communication. This would place the Cosmos Hub directly at the core of the Interchain and increase its usability in line with its values and strengths, as a true port city in the Cosmos ecosystem. Watch this space for more details.
2021 was the year in which IBC came to market with major Cosmos chains forming a thriving interconnected economy — and there’s way more coming next year! In 2022, IBC adoption will really excel thanks to Cosmos’ powerful tech stack and developer-friendly blockchain frameworks like Starport with IBC interoperability baked in. As Tendermint CEO Peng Zhong told CryptoSlate, “I think we will easily see 200 chains connected via IBC by this time next year and, in the long term, even a million.”
We’ll also see the completed work of various different teams using IBC to bridge Cosmos to their ecosystems. In 2022, that means secure connections to Bitcoin, Celo, Polkadot, Kusama, Harmony, Hyperledger Besu, Hyperledger Fabric, and even more. The free flow of assets between these major blockchains will create vast opportunities for scalability and growth — and finally, a level DeFi playing field with low fees, high throughput, and a vast selection of products!
With more fluidity in IBC connections, the ability to manage complex transactions across blockchain accounts, and bridges to major ecosystems unlocking liquidity, Cosmos DeFi will explode. The public launch of Emeris is coming up in Spring 2022 and will bring many hotly-anticipated features including advanced capabilities for portfolio visualization, digital asset management, and service discovery. There will also be staking with auto-compounding of rewards to maximize rewards generation, cross-chain DEX aggregation, an airdrop tracker, and a browser extension that works seamlessly with the Emeris web dashboard.
Osmosis will also be releasing its version of Liquid Staking, called Superfluid Staking, in the coming months. This will allow OSMO holders to use their tokens for staking and liquidity providing at the same time as well as ensuring that the protocol’s governance serves the interests of liquidity providers. Find out more about this new feature by watching charismatic Osmosis cofounder Sunny Aggarwal’s Cosmoverse presentation below.
Another team making giant strides in DeFi and working hard to bring Ethereum to Cosmos is Evmos, “EVM-on-Cosmos,” (previously known as Ethermint). Evmos aims to be the EVM hub of Cosmos, making it easy for EVM smart contracts to deploy and communicate within the Cosmos ecosystem. Already in incentivized testnet, EVM compatibility will land in Cosmos in January 2022. Evmos comes as an application-agnostic chain that’s interoperable with the Ethereum mainnet, EVM-compatible environments, and other BFT chains via IBC, and will serve as the EVM hub for any other EVM Cosmos chains.
Also be sure to keep a watch out for Umee in 2022, the first DeFi protocol to offer infrastructure for cross-chain interactions. Umee raised $6.3 million in seed funding in 2021 backed by Tendermint, Coinbase Ventures, Jo Lubin of ConsenSys, and other large names in the industry. Umee allows users to create lending and borrowing positions, discover yield opportunities, and explore DeFi applications trustlessly cross-chain. It’s going to be wild watching how quickly Cosmos DeFi comes into its own next year!
Beyond the rapidly growing DeFi sector, 2021 was also the year of the NFT with an explosion of interest around digital artwork, digital collectibles, and immutable digital proof of ownership. With such an appetite for NFTs among the mainstream, their popularity looks set to continue in 2022.
Many projects in the Cosmos ecosystem have been laying the foundations for their launches this year, including Stargaze, a public protocol for NFTs, Pylons, an interoperable system for brands and creators to build products with NFTs, BitSong, the first music NFT marketplace, Omniflix, a decentralized media and network layer powered by NFTs, and Secret Network’s Stashh, a full-stack platform and marketplace supporting Secret NFTs. Evmos will also soon support NFT deployment and host marketplaces for people to easily trade and deploy NFTs.
A special mention has to go to Strangeclan for releasing the first virtual town of its adventure game in 2021 complete with quests, social activities, competitive battles, and the ability to mint NFT characters, goods, and tokens! The game will be developed in increments and we look forward to future exciting releases in 2022.
Long-time Cosmos contributor IRISnet also completed trailblazing work in the NFT field in 2021, successfully conducting the first interchain NFT transfer across four blockchains in both the permissioned environment and public chain domain: WenChang Chain and IRITA Hub in BSN, IRIS Hub (aka IRISnet), and Ethereum. Now, NFTs that are the digital twins of two fine art Chinese paintings are available on OpenSea EASTIP for global markets.
We’re excited to follow the progress of all these incredible NFT projects over the coming months and will be updating you as and when they happen.
Finally, be sure not to miss out on the slew of amazing airdrops coming up in 2022. Some of the most innovative projects in the Cosmos ecosystem will be coming to production next year covering diverse areas from NFTs to decentralized social media, DeFi to gaming. Keep your eyes peeled for airdrops from Evmos, Umee, Gravity Bridge, LikeCoin, Game, Stargaze, BitSong, and Cyber, and be sure to stake your ATOM with Cosmos validators to be eligible.
Helping us reach our goal of 200 blockchains connected with IBC by the end of 2022 will be Starport, the all-in-one platform to build, launch, and maintain any crypto application on a sovereign and secured blockchain with the Cosmos SDK. Starport provides the best developer experience in the industry and empowers developers to build blockchains for a multi-chain future.
The Starport developer community is growing quickly with 422 blockchains created and pushed to GitHub so far. This year alone, some of Cosmos’ most interesting projects were created using Starport, including SifChain, Juno, Osmosis, Umee, and Lum Network. In just two months, the Starport Discord group has grown into an active community of almost 600 developers. The newly-launched Starport Twitter has reached 5,000 followers, and around 200 developers a day visit Starport documentation for instructions and tutorials — these are all numbers that will grow exponentially in 2022.
During HackAtom VI, we received some extremely high-quality submissions for the Starport challenges and we’re looking forward to incorporating these ideas into production as well as collaborating with more open source contributors. Starport will be adding some key new products and features in 2022 that will allow developers to achieve maximum success when launching their blockchains. You’ll be hearing more about this in the coming months!
We’re looking forward to another Cosmic year for our ecosystem and we thank you all for being a part of it. Let’s make 2022 our biggest year yet!