Stellar Starts Phased Rollout of 'Soroban' Smart Contracts

The "Protocol 20" upgrade, which adds support for Ethereum-style smart contracts to the decade-old payments-focused blockchain, had been delayed by three weeks due to precautions after a bug was found.

AccessTimeIconFeb 20, 2024 at 5:40 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 9:48 p.m. UTC

The Stellar blockchain moved forward with its "Protocol 20" upgrade, initiating phased rollout that will see the payments network add Ethereum-style smart contracts under the long-planned Soroban project.

The Stellar Development Foundation, which supports the blockchain's ecosystem, confirmed the "new era for the Stellar smart contracts tech stack" in a blog post on Tuesday, noting that the move came after validators voted for the mainnet upgrade.

"Gradually, validators plan to increase limits for Soroban transactions, building up to full capacity," according to an email from the team. "As the increases happen and we enter phase 1, the 160-plus builders and projects already building on testnet will begin to deploy on mainnet. Later, once projects are deployed, the network has been stress-tested, and the ecosystem is satisfied, dApps will launch for all to use."

Stellar is one of the oldest blockchains, created as a fork of the Ripple protocol in 2014, and the project is upgrading to add the programmability that Ethereum and its "smart contracts" are known for.

Some traders may be speculating whether the facelift could put fresh energy into the project's native XLM tokens, also known as "lumens." Over the past year, XLM has gained 21%, while the benchmark CoinDesk 20 of large-cap digital assets gained 67%.

The upgrade, overseen by the Stellar Development Foundation's Tomer Weller, was initially targeted for Jan. 30, but a few days before the date, a bug was found in the Stellar Core v20.1.0 software, prompting developers and validators behind the project to opt for a delay.


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Bradley Keoun

Bradley Keoun is the managing editor of CoinDesk's Tech & Protocols team. He owns less than $1,000 each of several cryptocurrencies.