Moonbeam Network

Moonbeam is a new Polkadot smart contract platform that makes it easy to build natively interoperable blockchain applications

Published on March 30, 2022

Can you explain Moonbeam to our community? A lot of users think that Moonriver is the testnet & Moonbeam is the mainnet, can you help them understand the core differences and the reason for having both networks?

Katie Butler (Head of Marketing) -
Sure and if you'll bear with me for a minute let me just back up a little bit and also talk about Polkadot. So for those who aren't familiar Polkadot is basically a new way of approaching building blockchains. They've developed this thing called substrate where all the blockchains connecting to Polkadot share this underlying framework so they can talk to each other and interact with each other in really rich interesting ways. So yes token movement but also a lot of interesting use cases we see in the near term on the horizon. So that could be things like storing assets in one place and your smart contracts on another. So we see kind of this like hybrid convergence happening on Polkadot which is one of the reasons we're so bullish about it. So when you get Moonbeam, in this ecosystem it is the place where Dapps are being built right so Polkadot itself doesn't have smart contract functionality. Moonbeam has really catered to this Ethereum style way of doing things and so that includes of course supporting all of the tools from Ethereum. All of the you know the smart contract language which is Solidity but also Vyper we support their account standard, their wallets and everything from an approach perspective we try to support fully and so that has allowed us to have over 100 daps building on us. Kind of as we speak now even though we're only 10 weeks from launch here so it's been a really interesting experience for us and that's Moonbeam. Now we look at Moonriver which we call kind of like a sister network, it lives on Kusama and so part of this confusion stems from the fact that the Polkadot Kusama relationship can also be confusing but really the place for Kusama and Moonriver which lives on top of Kusama while Moonbeam lives on top of Polkadot the place for that is a permanent incentivized canary net. So it will continue in perpetuity to run alongside Polkadot, it's not a temporary thing it's not short-lived and it does have value as it has tokens with actual economic value and so the concept there is you could take a test net and try and manufacture some of these ways to hack into it and kind of pay people to try and find loopholes or you could actually just have the tokens have value and see what people do with it. The rationale is you know by attaching real value um you'll find kind of more interesting things and it'll be kind of all the safer for it when you build it in permanently and so Kusama has very much kind of started with this heritage and expanded to become a playground. It's kind of the less formal let's experiment and see what happens type network but it will continue to live alongside Polkadot and so Moonbeam and Moonriver in much the same way will run in perpetuity but we do anticipate for Moonriver because of the way the tokens were distributed last year in the crowd loan. 30 went directly to community members and then of course the remaining tokens are still distributed to community members through grant programs and other avenues. We do expect that will help change the dynamics of Moonbeam versus Moonriver because it will very much be in the hands of the community and they'll kind of be deciding through on-chain governance so we'll see how things kind of shift in the future but for right now there is kind of that shared code base in some of the same applications not all of them but in the future we think they'll probably kind of take two paths and become unique in their own right.

Could you share some insights into both your tokens GLMR & MOVR utility?

Katie Butler (Head of Marketing) -
So MOVR is the utility token for the Moonriver network and GLMR is the utility token for the Moonbeam network. So they both basically share the same basic utility which is you know certainly for is staking. You're staking these tokens natively to co-leaders which is basically infrastructure on the network. You're helping kind of maintain the liveliness of the network so you can stake and earn rewards in the form of GLMR and MOVR. You can also participate in on chain governance with these utility tokens and then of course you can pay for transaction fees and smart contract execution as well. So it kind of has many of the same inherent utility features of Eth with the added you know proof of stake and on-chain governance that comes with Polkadot.

What major Dapps are running on Moonbeam that users can use now?

Katie Butler (Head of Marketing) -
Yeah I mean the biggest names that folks would probably recognize would be Sushi and Curve. So those are both currently live on Moonbeam. We do also have native Dexes deployed so Stella Swap comes to mind Solar Flare is another one and I would just point out so because Moonbeam has just launched so we're basically in this infrastructure deployment period and we're waiting for kind of key oracles to come online so that we can also work with the teams to deploy lending and borrowing. Moonwell is kind of one of the more notable ones there and then we also have Liquid Staking coming through Lido Finance and we also have Firefly Derivatives. So we have kind of these three really interesting projects coming to Moonbeam very shortly. They're just waiting for some of these last few infrastructure pieces to be available and then those will be deployed but right now you know there's certainly many Dexes as well as many bridges already live and available.

How can user’s participate in Moonbeam governance proposals?

Katie Butler (Head of Marketing) -
Yeah so this is actually really interesting because we just did an announcement about this recently and it’s is very unique to Moonbeam in the Polkadot ecosystem. So on-chain governance is actually available for any Parachain that wants it, So the substrate I mentioned at the beginning, you can basically pick and choose which functionality you want. So if you want on chain governance you can add in the democracy palette, we've done that and so in order to participate prior to last week you would have to go to the Polkadot’s web application and actually directly vote on governance there and that was kind of a pain because like I mentioned again we focused on these Ethereum style addresses, we focused on Ethereum formatted wallets like Metamask and so there was a little bit of a disconnect there in terms of usability. So last week we just announced that we worked with the Polk assembly team to deploy Metamask support. So what that means now is you know everything you do on Moonbeam is really centered around the Metamask wallet and so now you can even use Polk assembly to vote on governance through Metamask. So this is really interesting even though maybe at face value it doesn't sound interesting because behind the scenes what's happening is you're using something that's an Ethereum style item and interacting with substrate which is this Polkadot format, so we've connected those two things with something called a Precompile which is we basically created a democracy precompile to allow that connection to happen and that's the sort of the idea that we're kind of continually working on.

How is Moonbeam different from Layer 1 EVM compatible chains ?

Katie Butler (Head of Marketing) -
So there's a couple different things I would say. First and foremost a lot of EVM chains at least kind of a year or two ago were forks of Ethereum and they're all kind of sharing the same underlying code base and that's not what Moonbeam. We're very much native to the Polkadot ecosystem built on substrate written in RUST integrating all of these key functionalities from Polkadot and just trying to unite them and make end user experience as seamless as possible. So it's kind of how we're built which at face value may seem a little in the weeds or a little technical but how it works for users I think is a pretty large impact when you think of first of all this interoperability that is possible through Polkadot that's something that we uniquely have available to us. The other thing I would look at is scalability and changes over time, we're going to continue to benefit as Polkadot matures as it is continued to build out on Moonbeam & will continue to mature with it. So when you look at scalability improvements and things like that over time we will also benefit from those who got it.

The interoperable XC-20 token is one of the biggest innovations from moonbeam, can you explain it a bit more ?

Katie Butler (Head of Marketing) -
So it's actually not a token. It's a token standard, so this is actually kind of on a similar topic to the to the pre-compile thing I mentioned earlier. So really what moonbeam does is emulate the Ethereum environment as closely as we can and so that includes ERC20 style tokens when you deploy a token natively to moonbeam it is in an ERC20 format and so what we really wanted to do is find a way for those ERC20’s to move across the whole Polkadot ecosystem as if they were the substrate style of doing things. So that's what an XC20 is, it is basically a new format which is really behind the scenes in ERC20 with a precompile so we've basically kind of added a little shortcut here to enable these tokens to move natively across the substrate ecosystem. So if you deploy tokens on Moonbeam, you as a developer have the benefit of the same kind of ease of deployment, ease of minting that you would for many ERC20 but you can also benefit from being able to move it not just around Moonbeam but around the Relay Chain on Polkadot around all of the power chains connected to Polkadot and so forth. So we always position it as like this best of both worlds thing but it lets you take advantage of the whole value prop of interoperability without losing that ease of use from Ethereum.

Does Moonbeam support only Solidity or other languages as well ?

Katie Butler (Head of Marketing) -
So right now we're focusing just on Solidity and Vyper and the intention there again is to really make sure that the experience is as excellent as possible and so you'll see that all of the things that we've done recently are really to either continue to improve the developer experience as well as continue to improve the end user experience or to continue to unite these like Ethereum style concepts and Polkadot style concepts into like one cohesive experience. So I’d say that's probably going to continue to be our focus for some time I wouldn't rule out you know supporting some other languages in the future but for right now like we're really focused on making that developer experience when you first deploy seamless and then kind of down the road I think we'll look towards where does it make sense to expand what do we want to do with our network and our language support.

How can we acquire MOVR & GLMR tokens apart from buying them from CEXs?

Katie Butler (Head of Marketing) -
So we do have of course DEX’s that are deployed to both Moonbeam and Moonriver we do also have programs for the community. We have grant programs, there's actually also a bug bounty program through Immunefi which folks may be familiar with and so the intention of these kinds are really to just provide ways for the community to kind of contribute back and then kind of earn rewards. We're also looking to do things like bounty programs around content but we haven't deployed anything yet, although in that instance it could be again like a different way for someone who maybe is less technical or you know isn't interested in building to contribute and to kind of learn and help promote education around Moonbeam and maybe earn tokens in kind of compensation or rewards for that. So we're working on programs like that to add in as well from a marketing perspective but certainly like the grants program which I think is really the number one way that community members are getting access to tokens right now.

From a developer’s point of view, can you explain how building on Moonbeam compares with creating their own Parachain or Parathread ?

Katie Butler (Head of Marketing) -
Sure well just for the first point here we've been working on Moonbeam for two and a half years. That's how long it took us to launch a Parachain and part of that is because Parachains weren't live yet. So I can't claim that was all kind of you know like you could probably compress that time quite a bit and substrate this framework I mentioned. It does allow you to deploy pretty quickly but inherently the issues mostly for Dapps if you look at kind of the dapps scenario let's say you have only dapps live on an Ethereum style chain, you probably have it already written in solidity and you probably already have some token live or some number of tokens live. So when you look to Polkadot if you have to build your own Parachain, first you have to go hire a team that knows Rust & I can tell you this is really difficult all the folks in the Polkadot ecosystem are competing with each other for Rust developers. It's really difficult to find talent in order to build these Parachains, even when you do find those Rust developers you're going to have to take all the code that you already have and rewrite it for this Rust style environment if you want to build your own Parachain and because now its it’s own layer one right, don't forget that Parachains are all their own layer one so you have to consider how do you want to approach governance, what are the mechanisms you want to build, and how are you going to produce blocks. So I mentioned we had these collators, so you got to build your own collator program and recruit them and come up with a compensation model and then of course like what are you going to do for your tokenomics, how are you going to distribute that, how are you going to go to market how are you going to bootstrap the cost of a Parachain if you want a Parachain, Parathreads are a little different where you could kind of do this Pay-as-you-go model. So it kind of reduces the bootstrapping piece. But I think you know the real barriers between all those things are like hiring, rewriting and then there's just a lot of business oriented things that come with deploying a Parachain and so what I really like about the idea of coming at least first to a Parachain whether it be Moonbeam or another Parachain is you can get into the ecosystem, prove whether there's traction or not, as there's a lot of newness around Polkadot where only I think Moonbeam was the first Parachain to launch in January. So it's a maximum of 10 weeks for Parachains here to be live and kind producing things. So it's just so new and it's difficult for all teams to know whether this is a place they can be successful and of course we think that's a resounding yes but I think that that's a lesson they need to learn for themselves. So what Moonbeam really does is like , Hey deploy here first it's really fast we continuously hear from people building on top of Moonbeam that it's the easiest experience among any EVM chain which of course we love to hear and down the road if they want to kind of transition into their own Parachain they have that runway, they have that time and they can kind of make a more gradual experience there if they want. So we like to talk about it as an On-Ramp like come in, try it out, the water's fine and then if you guys want to build your own layer one either in parallel or eventually transition into one, that doorway is open and we're happy to help you guys do that.