Smart contract platform Qtum is set to launch a significant upgrade, undergoing a hard fork that will be the biggest to take place so far on a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain. Qtum 2.0 is scheduled to take place on October 17 and will introduce a range of new features and performance improvements compared to the current iteration.
One of the more substantial changes being introduced will allow users to participate in decentralized applications (dApps) without holding any cryptocurrency. In the current version and in other platforms such as Ethereum, users are required to pay gas fees for transactions within dApps. This requirement imposes barriers to entry and adoption, as non-crypto users are unlikely to navigate cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets to access a dApp.
Upon the launch of Qtum 2.0, gas payments can be handled by a third party, meaning that dApp projects could fund the costs of bringing new users onboard, making dApps effectively free to users.
In a further step, wallets that contain no QTUM tokens can still send native dApp tokens once the update is complete.
Another significant change is the difficulty adjustment algorithm, which sets the block time. This change aims to reduce longer block times to 128 seconds, which the project team estimates will increase transaction speeds by around 12.5 percent. Through deploying the PoS consensus method, the platform already achieves a faster block time than proof-of-work blockchains such as Bitcoin, which averages ten minutes per block. However, given the competition for smart contract platforms is becoming fiercer, the increased transaction speed will be a significant improvement for Qtum.
Other changes will make it easier for developers to program smart contracts, and the system will also be able to support more sophisticated smart contracts.
A “Smooth Road” Ahead
This is the first hard fork for Qtum since the project launched two years ago. Given the scale of the update, the developer team has put the new version through extensive testing in order to ensure a hassle-free implementation for network users. In the press release accompanying the announcement, co-founder Patrick Dai stated of the transition:
“We see the shift from Qtum 1.0 to 2.0 as a lot smoother road rather than driving off of a ramp and hoping everyone lands without breaking any parts.”
The hard fork comes at a timely moment. Ethereum has struggled for years with its scalability challenges, and developers have long promised that a much-touted move to a PoS consensus will solve this issue. However, at the recent annual Ethereum DevCon held in Osaka, supporters were left disappointed by the news that the next update, dubbed Eth 2.0, could take as long as two more years to become fully implemented.
Qtum has been able to avoid these travails by adopting an approach of cherry-picking the best of all blockchain worlds. Since the beginning, it has used a PoS consensus as a means of overcoming the inefficiency of PoW blockchains. Furthermore, its foundational code is based on Bitcoin but overlaid with the Ethereum Virtual Machine to enable smart contract development. In this way, the platform can take advantage of Bitcoin’s security while allowing the same ease of programming found on Ethereum.
Now, there are hopes that the upcoming hard fork will help to further strengthen Qtum’s position as a project that’s able to meet the growing demand for a fast, secure, and scalable blockchain.