Protocol 20 and Smart Contracts Are Live on Mainnet


Stellar Development Foundation

Publishing date

Smart Contracts

On Feb. 20, Stellar network validators voted to upgrade Mainnet to Protocol 20, kicking off a new era for the Stellar smart contracts tech stack, which delivers a secure, batteries-included developer experience built to scale and for real-world use.

Getting to this moment has been an incredible journey. For the last two years, the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) and the Stellar community have discussed, designed, and built new functionality transforming the Stellar network. Together, we iterated over ten releases in the open, designed novel concepts aimed at solving some of blockchain's biggest unsolved problems like state bloat, committed hundreds of thousands of lines of code, deployed 160+ projects on Testnet and awarded tens of millions worth of XLM through 24 rounds of the Stellar Community Fund to support developers and projects that are building next generation everyday financial services on Stellar.

We are grateful for everyone who has been a part of this journey. From SDF team members to our supportive community of builders, this was only possible with a lot of keystrokes, support, and belief in the vision for secure, scalable, and easy-to-build smart contracts on Stellar.

What's next

The Phased Rollout

But this ride is not over. Today's vote marks the beginning of a phased rollout where validators, who vote to configure network settings, will increase capacity for smart contract transactions in a series of methodical steps. The phased approach will give those validators, as well as other network participants, time to monitor smart contract functionality's impact on the network and ensure performance, security, and stability at every step.

Gradually, validators plan to increase limits for Soroban transactions, building up to full capacity. As the increases happen and we enter phase 1, the 160+ 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. SDF will communicate throughout the process, but the initial details on the rollout can be found here or in the video below for those interested.

Smart Contracts on Stellar

Low-Cost, Secure and Scalable

Stellar is a network that is low cost, fast, and built to scale, with a global reach to a growing share of the world's underserved population. Now with smart contracts on Stellar a whole new world is opening up for builders, where security, affordability, and scalability aren't on the roadmap but built into the code, with resources and tools for the masses, and access to an ecosystem that is already delivering real-world utility.

Getting Started

Secure & Easy to Build

It's no secret that smart contracts are not easy to write.

The blockchain industry has opted to spin up its own way of doing things instead of leaning on tried and true tools. It requires developers to spend energy, time, and mindshare learning new platforms and bespoke languages to tinker and build. There are bugs and vulnerabilities codified into other chains. Taken together this can make any developer want to stop before they get started. For Soroban, security and ease of building were priority #1. In collaboration and consultation with the ecosystem, intentional design decisions were made so builders wouldn't need to start from scratch or choose performance over security. Together, a decision was made to use Rust and WASM – tested and well-known tools – for Soroban's tech stack to build an experience prioritizing safety, speed, and familiarity. We set out to build something anyone could build on, making the hurdle from idea to deployment shorter and more manageable so builders can create faster.

The Tech

Scalable and Efficient

Scalability and efficiency are the bread and butter of any platform worth its salt. You shouldn't have to compromise when building a platform meant to revolutionize the world's financial systems. Transaction costs need to be low, fees must be predictable, and the platform needs to be able to handle growth. This is where smart contracts on Stellar shine. Soroban engineers have conducted research that influenced the design of specific features that support network scalability and sustainability. For example, Soroban employs a fees and metering structure that allows individual resource consumption (such as ledger entry reads and writes, CPU instructions, and RAM) to be priced independently, and it offers a state-of-the-art method for archiving state that solves the age-old blockchain problem of state bloat. No retroactive fixes or massive upgrades are needed to solve problems that can be solved from the beginning.

The Opportunity

Grounded in the Real World for Real People

And let's not forget the reason we're all here – to offer people tools that make their lives easier and better. Blockchain can grant access to a whole world of financial opportunity, but until now, many people have been stuck on the sidelines, watching from afar. Simply put, transaction costs on certain chains are a barrier to entry, and the lack of on and off-ramp infrastructure keeps users without the ability to get in and out of the digital economy. No bank account? No problem. For the last ten years, the Stellar ecosystem has amassed the necessary building blocks for this moment, growing the number of asset issuers, on and off-ramps, and wallets on the network. Now, with smart contracts, dapps can participate in a new era of inclusivity, opening the door for builders to reach untapped markets around the globe and giving users access to financial services and applications like never before—pioneering finance for every pocket.

The Network

Reliable and Proven

With a decade of experience, the Stellar ecosystem is a well-oiled machine. The worries of building on an unproven platform don't apply here. Whether you're a developer, entrepreneur, or someone with a killer idea, Stellar has everything you need to hit the ground running. With Stellar, you're starting on solid ground with a network of top-tier exchanges, on and off-ramps, custody providers, wallets, and a whole host of other resources on a proven, reliable network ready to power your project on day 1.

Today marks a beginning not an end, so stay connected, get ready to deploy and be part of the growing community shaping the future of decentralized finance.