What is Moonbeam and what does it hope to accomplish for Web3?
Moonbeam is a smart contract platform for building cross-chain connected applications that can access users, assets, and services on any chain. By uniting functionality from Ethereum, Cosmos, Polkadot and more into a single platform, Moonbeam solves today’s fragmented user experience — unlocking true interoperability and paving the way for the next generation of applications. The Moonbeam platform uses integrated cross-chain messaging to allow developers to create smart contracts that access services across many remote blockchains. This approach, plus Moonbeam’s developer-friendly EVM platform, vast tool support, and modern Substrate architecture, creates the ideal development environment for building connected applications.
What are the differentiating features of Moonbeam and how does it differ from other projects with a similar mission?
Moonbeam is laser-focused on solving challenges that prevent user adoption of Web3 apps. By allowing development teams to tap into functionality on many blockchains from one platform, the builders are able to create easier-to-use, natively cross-chain applications with streamlined user experiences.
Moonbeam improves the application building experience in three key ways: compatibility and cross-chain interoperability with many blockchains, an excellent development environment with unmatched tool support, and a modern proof-of-stake architecture built on Substrate.
For non-crypto natives, what does Moonbeam plan to bring to the user experience of crypto, and what will be its main applications?
Cross-chain connected applications are going to turn the Web3 user experience on its head. Rather than today’s experience — which usually involves swapping for multiple wrapped tokens, bridging, tedious gas fees, and a ton of research — users will be able to interact with many chains from one single application.
Imagine a world where you can initiate transactions on many blockchains from wherever you happen to have gas money. Or one where you’re able to try new apps without having to orchestrate a series of swaps to get to the right networks and tokens. Users will have more autonomy to try and use new projects how and where they want them. It’s the ultimate shift toward a user-centric application experience.
Can you introduce your team to the readers? What relevant experience do they have and what projects have inspired them in their designs?
The idea for Moonbeam was conceived in late 2019 by team members from PureStake, born from the realization that we are living in a world with an ever-increasing number of blockchains. PureStake is the company that is running the core development of Moonbeam, with origins on the infrastructure side, providing high-quality, reliable infrastructure to the Polkadot and Algorand blockchains. Since then, Moonbeam has launched and now has contributors all around the world.
Many of the team members contributing to Moonbeam have a wealth of experience in the Web2 space, designing applications that are user-facing and have acute performance needs. Derek Yoo, the CEO of PureStake, has a long career of successful entrepreneurship in the SaaS/B2B space. This lends a valuable perspective as the team works to tackle cross-chain development challenges as a way to provide simpler paths for deploying interconnected apps.
How did you achieve your funding requirements? Was it from an exclusive token sale or private funding? When was it?
Additionally, the Moonbeam Foundation successfully held a crowdloan in 2021 that received over 35 million DOT ($1.4 billion USD at the time) and allowed Moonbeam to bootstrap its launch on the Polkadot network. Importantly, these crowdloan funds are locked on the “Relay Chain” (Polkadot’s underlying communication chain) in order to secure Moonbeam’s slot on the network and are not accessible by the team. After the first lease on the network expires (approximately October 2023), the funds will be returned to their original contributors.
What parts of the Moonbeam roadmap is the team most excited for?
One of the biggest changes coming to Moonbeam is the implementation of OpenGov, which is the latest iteration of Polkadot’s on-chain governance system. While the system is quite complex (see discussion here), the net result is that the token holders will get even more opportunities to decide the future direction of Moonbeam, including its technology upgrades, how grants are used, and more. OpenGov is currently implemented on Moonriver (Moonbeam’s live betanet on Kusama) and is expected to rollout to Moonbeam later this year, pending community approval.
Where do you see Moonbeam in 5 years? What does it look like when Moonbeam is mass-adopted?
Since Moonbeam is, first and foremost, a platform for teams that want to build dApps… success here would look like a few mass-adopted applications. Those applications aren’t built by the Moonbeam team directly but are enabled through its developer-friendly interoperable design. Given the mission of cross-chain connectedness, the “big win” would be an application that makes it easy for users to access decentralized technology without being burdened with a clunky user experience. They would be able to access the best that Web3 has to offer without the complexity that’s created today when moving from one chain to another.
How does the Moonbeam architecture differ from other blockchains? Does it solve the scalability trilemma, and if so, how?
The Moonbeam concept was to create a smart contract platform that is easy to build on and is designed for cross-chain interoperability scenarios. This concept led to a lot of the design choices that ultimately resulted in what Moonbeam looks like today – choices such as building with Substrate, becoming a parachain on Polkadot, providing a fully Ethereum-compatible environment, etc.
The compatibility priority manifests in Moonbeam’s full Ethereum implementation in Substrate that provides the core smart contract functionality. Surrounding that is a complete set of infrastructure and tools such as Etherscan and Chainlink that developers expect when coming from a smart contract platform like Ethereum mainnet. And last but certainly not least, a variety of cross-chain messaging options including Polkadot XCM, Axelar, LayerZero, Wormhole, and Hyperlane. These are power connected contracts on Moonbeam, which are able to work with any asset or service regardless of which blockchain they are on. Allowing devs to build apps that span multiple blockchains is more efficient and offers superior user experiences.
As a parachain on Polkadot that’s built using the Substrate framework, Moonbeam inherits many of its “scalability trilemma” solutions from Polkadot’s core design. Security is provided by Polkadot, in the sense that all finality happens on the core “Relay Chain” using a shared pool of validators. Moonbeam has access to these shared resources via the slot it has rented on the network (parachain slot). As a Substrate-based chain, it is significantly faster and more efficient than Ethereum, with the added bonus of cross-chain interoperability features built in at a platform level. And finally, Moonbeam has on-chain governance built in, allowing forkless upgrades of the protocol itself but also enabling the token holders to vote on day-to-day decisions as well as long-term visions and roadmap. Since voting is on-chain, results are immediately actionable and committed to the chain.
What is the primary use case of the Moonbeam token?
GLMR is the utility token of Moonbeam. It can be used to pay transaction fees and support network operations. Token holders can delegate their tokens and earn GLMR rewards by staking using the Moonbeam DApp. Some of the uses of the Glimmer token on Moonbeam include:
- Supporting the gas metering of smart contract execution
- Incentivizing collators and powering the mechanics around the creation of a decentralized node infrastructure on which the platform can run
- Facilitating the on-chain governance mechanism including proposing referenda, electing council members, voting, etc
- Paying for transaction fees on the network
What is unique about the tokenomics of Moonbeam? What incentive mechanism does it have?
GLMR has an inflationary model with an uncapped supply, where the inflationary tokens are used to pay for ongoing security needs of the network: collator rewards, staking rewards to users, and a parachain bond reserve to pay for a parachain slot on Polkadot in perpetuity.
Full information regarding tokenomics can be found on the Moonbeam Foundation website: https://moonbeam.foundation/glimmer-token/
Why should users stake GLMR on Moonbeam and what benefits should they expect outside of normal staking rewards?
Token holders can stake to collators on Moonbeam, which are the infrastructure providers that produce blocks on the network (which are then finalized on the Polkadot Relay Chain). Those who stake their network tokens are paid rewards for doing so. This is a powerful way for community members to participate in the network operation, in addition to voting in governance.
Here’s how to stake GLMR on Moonbeam: https://moonbeam.network/tutorial/stake-glmr/
Additionally, since Moonbeam is a permissionless platform, a number of applications built on Moonbeam also offer staking options to token holders which can be explored here: https://www.dtmb.xyz/moonbeam/explore
Moonbeam has been talking a lot about connected contracts. Could you walk us through what that means and why it is important for the industry?
Connected contracts are smart contracts that can access functionality across many remote blockchains through integrated cross-chain messaging.
Moonbeam has pioneered cross-chain connected applications, which provide users with unified access to users, assets, and services. Applications built on Moonbeam using this approach can tap into functionality from Ethereum, Cosmos, Avalanche, Polkadot, and more from a single instance of their application. They can do this via cross-chain messages that are being sent across chains.
Moonbeam has worked to gain support from the widest variety of cross-chain messaging protocols possible and now has live integrations from top general message passing providers (Axelar, LayerZero, Wormhole, Hyperlane) as well as its native support for Polkadot’s XCM as a messaging transport through being a parachain.
Native support for cross-chain messaging means that Moonbeam is especially good at supporting dapp developers with a need to tap into many kinds of assets and use cases across many chains. This approach to dapp development where there is a single application powered by smart contracts on different chains that are connected to each other. This allows for both more efficient protocols, but also for superior user experiences.
Moonbeam believes that the future is multi-chain, what led you to this belief and why did you decide to double down on this approach?
When Moonbeam was first announced to the public in 2020, the idea of a multi-chain future seemed pretty theoretical. It was based on the trends we saw, sort of an “anti-maximimalism” approach where many chains were launching, each with their own strengths. But the idea was also based on the larger trajectory of technology, where inevitably specialization is introduced and technologists search for the best blockchain to perform the job they have in front of them.
In the past couple of years, it’s become increasingly evident that this theory is correct, that developers and users choose blockchains that work the best for their given task or use case rather than altruistically what they believe is the leading contender. And as some of these new interoperability technologies come online, it becomes increasingly less important for users to understand or care about which blockchain something is built on: for example, do you really have an awareness of the technology powering the server this website is run on? These sorts of “back end” design decisions will eventually become obscured for users, allowing developers to choose the technology that’s right for them while offering a drastically simplified experience on the front end. It’s this philosophy that continues to excite us about multi-chain approaches.
Are there any exciting updates, announcements, or partnerships coming up in the immediate future that you can disclose today?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, connected contracts are driving the biggest change within the ecosystem today. The development of these new kinds of applications that leverage messaging systems to create cross-chain connected dapps and protocols is being driven by the many teams building on top of the platform. There aren’t any specific announcements from those teams that we’re able to share quite yet, but the Moonbeam Twitter handle will share integration news and launches as soon as it’s available.
Where is the best place for the community to interact with you?
The best place to start is the Moonbeam website. For developers, there is also a robust documentation site that features how-tos, tutorials, etc. You can also watch events and tutorials on YouTube or connect with the community on Telegram and Discord.
Why is Staking Rewards the best integration for your project?
Staking Rewards is a great resource for Moonbeam users who want to browse the options for infrastructure staking and other kinds of staking across the Moonbeam ecosystem. It can also serve as a way for users to educate themselves on a number key metrics including staking rates and collator performance.