What is a sidechain and what does it mean for Cardano

What is a sidechain and what does it mean for Cardano

In today’s outpost, we unpack a bit more about the value of sidechains and how it could impact the long-term adoption of the Cardano layer 1

Cardano is a blockchain protocol that enables the transfer of value through a decentralized system. One of the most significant innovations in the blockchain industry is the idea of sidechains, which allows operations to occur across blockchains, from a primary blockchain like Cardano to a sidechain with enhanced capabilities. In this outpost, we explore Cardano sidechains, their advantages, disadvantages, and the sidechain toolkit.

What is a sidechain?

Sidechains are separate blockchains running parallel to a main blockchain, allowing for transferring of assets and information between them. They can have their own rules, such as consensus algorithm, block time, and tokenomics, and operate autonomously. The integration of sidechains expands the capabilities of Cardano, allowing it to interact with numerous other blockchains and cryptocurrencies.

The advantages of sidechains are that they can provide significant value in addressing the three pressing challenges in blockchain systems: interoperability, scalability, and upgradability.

  • Interoperability is a significant issue in the current landscape of cryptocurrencies. Sidechains can address this issue by enabling communication between blockchains and connecting them to the traditional banking system via a private ledger.
  • Scalability is another challenge in blockchain technology, and sidechains can help alleviate this strain by offloading some transactions to specialized sidechains.
  • Upgradability is another issue that needs to be addressed in blockchain technology, and sidechains can solve this problem by allowing new features to be tested on a separate child sidechain.

The disadvantages of sidechains are that the bridge mechanism is susceptible to hacks, and the lack of secure primitives can enable hacks. However, both parent and side chains are treated as equals for most sidechains and can be connected to other chains such as Ethereum, Polkadot, and Solana.

Sidechain Toolkit

The Sidechain Toolkit for Cardano is a collection of components and guidelines for extending the blockchain. It enables blockchain developers to create tailored solutions that meet their technical and societal requirements. The toolkit consists of three core elements: Main-chain Plutus Scripts, Chain Follower, and Sidechain Specific Module. These scripts, deployed on the Cardano main chain, outline the sidechain's flow and initiate its creation, including block producer candidate registration, token minting policies, and token movement functions. The Chain Follower observes and communicates main-chain events that govern the sidechain, while the Sidechain Specific Module filters and transforms data from the chain follower and presents it to the components that will process it according to the sidechain's technical specification rules.


Late last year Cardano announced the launch of its smart contract chain, Midnight, a sidechain that utilizes zk-SNARKs technology to protect the privacy of sensitive business and personal data.

The platform will enable users to do selective disclosures and allows the door to be opened for regulators and auditors to review accounts securely and fully traceable, according to Charles Hoskinson, the founder of Cardano. Businesses will be interested in the technology, given that one of the reasons they shy away from public blockchains is due to their lack of privacy. Midnight is still under development, with IOHK providing updates as they work on it into 2023.

Flagship's Thoughts

Sidechains are a solution for enhancing the capabilities of Cardano by allowing it to interact with numerous other blockchains and cryptocurrencies. They can address the challenges of interoperability, scalability, and upgradability. However, they do come with certain risks, such as susceptibility to hacks.

The Sidechain Toolkit for Cardano is a collection of components and guidelines that enables developers to create tailored solutions. With the use of sidechains, Cardano can continue to innovate and expand its capabilities to offer more value to its users.

Disclaimer: Nothing on this site should be construed as a financial investment recommendation. It’s important to understand that investing is a high-risk activity. Investments expose money to potential loss.



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