Cardano to Let Users Create and Execute P2P Financial Agreements

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In Brief
  • Cardano developers IOHK are developing a decentralized finance suite called Marlowe.

  • The suite will feature set of products; for developers, for end users, and for enterprises.

  • Marlowe will launch on Cardano as part of the Goguen rollout.

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Cardano parent company IOHK is developing a suite of products for decentralized finance (DeFi) called Marlowe.



In a blog post that begins by relating flawed experiences with traditional financial services, IOHK announced they are developing Marlowe. In creating this decentralized finance (DeFi) project, they seek to democratize finance through facilitating peer-to-peer agreements on a blockchain.

Marlow is set to allow users to build their own financial instruments and set up agreements with anyone with whom they want to interact. The suite will serve developers, retail end users, and enterprise users.



With simplicity in mind

First, Marlowe for developers will include Marlowe Build and Marlowe Play, as well as the input to the Marlowe Library. The first two together enable end-to-end financial smart contract development. Developers can use Marlowe Build to compose smart contract code.

They can then formally verify and test the smart contracts on Marlowe Play. After the smart contracts are built and tested, developers can contribute them to the open-source smart contract Marlowe Library. 

IOHK are also designing a set of products for retail end users, so they can execute their own financial agreements on the blockchain. The product will give access to a variety of templates for financial instruments from the Marlowe Library. 

Developers are designing the interface with simplicity in mind. This means that users don’t have to understand the complexities of blockchain, nor know how to write smart contracts. According to IOHK, “every step of the contract is explained in non-technical language, and each action is performed only with the user’s explicit authorization.” Marlowe Run will also include familiar financial tools such as escrows, debt securities, and swaps.

Finally, Marlow will also include products for enterprise users. These will include a customizable suite of capabilities and financial agreements, which are tailored to a commercial use case. This will be enabled through the provision of smart contract templates that adopt Algorithmic Contract Types Unified Standards (Actus) for financial contracts.

Financial agreements in a decentralized fashion

Although IOHK rolled out Marlowe Playground Alpha in 2020, Marlowe for end users will come online in stages throughout 2021. 

The first will be the prototype of Marlowe Run, where users can demo and try out their own financial agreements. The prototype will allow users to explore making financial agreements in a decentralized fashion, without risking any real tokens.

Marlowe will launch on Cardano with the Goguen rollout, but is designed to be blockchain agnostic, and so could eventually run on other blockchains as well.

As previously reported, Cardano’s next upgrade Alonzo will introduce smart contract support to the blockchain. Alonzo will use the Plutus platform to establish the infrastructure and tools for smart contract development.


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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage. He can best be described as an optimistic center-left skeptic.

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