As ICON builds out blockchain interoperability connections through its groundbreaking Blockchain Transmission Protocol (BTP) technology, it is useful for Iconists to become familiar with compatible blockchains. This article is the seventh part of a ‘BTP series’ in which we take an introductory look at all the blockchain networks that will be joining the ICON community. Be sure to also check out the other articles in the series:

Although development of BTP has not yet been finalized, a “lite” version of the technology called ICON Bridge will soon be launched, finally opening the doors to interoperability between ICON and other BTP-compatible blockchains. In addition to the blockchain projects linked to above, ICON will also be bridging to Astar Network, a Polkadot parachain.

Let’s take a look at Astar and get to know what it’s all about.

What is Astar Network and Why is it Great for BTP Developers?

Astar Network is a layer one blockchain (like ICON) built as a parachain on the Polkadot network. Astar is a scalable smart contract platform that aims to be the Dapp hub of the Polkadot ecosystem. Astar Network was formerly known as PLASM.

Although similar to and in direct competition with Moonbeam (which we covered before), Astar has a lot of unique aspects and is often lauded as one of the most technically superior projects in the Polkadot ecosystem. Let’s take a look at some of the technical features that might make Astar Network a good choice for BTP developers to bridge to:

One of Astar’s biggest draws is its compatibility with multiple virtual machines. Not only is Astar fully interoperable with Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), but it also natively supports the more modern WebAssembly (WASM). This compatibility allows smart contracts built on Astar’s blockchain to seamlessly interact with different virtual machines and programming languages. Especially if BTP developers are looking for WASM support, Astar will be the blockchain to pick.

Astar smart contracts can also be tokenized and easily transferred between owners, making it very easy to buy and sell applications on the network. Furthermore, Astar has its own canary network called Shiden, which is used for testing and development before Dapps are officially launched on Astar.

The blockchain has some built-in DeFi aspects, too, rewarding developers and smart contract administrators with 50 percent of the network’s staking rewards. Astar also has a multi-lockdrop mechanism that allows locking of ETH, DOT or KSM tokens to gain native tokens.

In addition to its technical strengths, the network also operates the Astar and Shiden Builders Program, which provides funding for development projects. Astar is also a part of the same $aUSD 250 million ecosystem fund available for Acala and Moonbeam. And, of course, there is always the $ICX 200 million fund offered by ICON for interoperability projects. With this many funding opportunities available, it shouldn’t take long before bridges are built with many ICON projects.

Although Astar only recently launched on Polkadot in January 2022, the network already has an ecosystem of over 40 projects being built for it, with 15 projects expected to launch very soon. Here’s a look at a handful of the more significant DeFi projects launching on Astar:

  • ADAO: DeFi network focused on Dapp staking
  • Alnair Finance: Optimizer for LP token staking
  • AstridDAO: DeFi global reserve bank with a multi-collateral stablecoin
  • Astar Farm: DeFi & GameFi dApp
  • Avault: DeFi profit aggregator
  • Kagla: DeFi stablecoin swapping protocol
  • Muuu Finance: DeFi yield booster
  • Orcus Finance: DeFi protocol with a USD-pegged fractional-algorithmic stablecoin
  • Sirius Finance: Astar’s first stablecoin AMM infrastructure
  • Starbank: Astar’s first DeFi investment platform

Team and Token

Astar Network was founded in 2021 by Sota Watanabe, a Japanese blockchain influencer who is also Director of the Japan Blockchain Association and a task force member of the Trusted Web Council led by the Japanese government’s Cabinet Secretariat. Although headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, the Astar team is decentralized across the world.

Astar Network has two tokens. $ASTR is the network’s primary token. The blockchain’s Shiden canary network also has its own token called $SDN. Both tokens are trading on on major exchanges, including Binance.

For more information about Astar, please visit their website or blog. You can also follow them on Twitter.