Project Catalyst (overview here) is Cardano’s community-led grants program created to “fund the future of Cardano.”
Since its launch two years ago, Catalyst has funded 1100+ projects that share the same goal: to develop the Cardano ecosystem and add value to the blockchain. Cardano holders vote on proposals several times a year in Catalyst funding rounds known as Funds, with the most recent, Fund9, awarding 200+ grants at a cost of $13m USD.
With millions at stake and so much information to digest, voters have complained about limitations in the current system — in response, IOHK’s Catalyst team is making sweeping changes starting Fund10.
CHANGE 1: New Voting Center Dapp
The new Voting Center Dapp will eventually replace Ideascale (the portal used now to list proposals) to become the focal point of the Catalyst experience. Initially, the Voting Center will be used for voting key registration, voting, and voting rights delegation (more on that below), and make participation easier — imagine one-click voting registration without QR codes, pins or mobile apps.
Users will be able to connect to the Voting Center with any wallet that has a Cardano Dapp connector, though the wallets themselves will need to implement two new calls in order to be Voting Center compliant: one for registration and one for voting. Not all wallets will be compatible at first, though NuFi wallet has been confirmed as compatible from day one.
It’s believed that a tailored voting center will help voters more quickly navigate the swarm of proposals to make educated decisions, and serve as a superior platform for interactions between project proposers and the Catalyst community.
Important: Although the new Voting Center should be partially available for Fund10, the Ideascale portal and the existing registration/voting process will still function and registered users can continue voting on the Catalyst app without needing to access the Voting Center.
CHANGE 2: Vote Delegation & Delegate Representatives (dReps)
Starting Fund 10, Vote Delegation will be introduced alongside Delegate Representatives (dReps). The mechanism is similar to staking: you lend your ADA’s voting power to a trusted dRep who then casts votes on your behalf. The rewards for voting will be collected by the Delegators themselves and voting power can be distributed to several dReps at once so a Delegator doesn’t have to rely on a single representative.
This is a very sought-after feature which, if done right, can greatly improve the Catalyst decision-making process. dReps will be more qualified and experienced, and can spend more time assessing projects than the average Catalyst voter. Through this, we can expect the funded projects to be of a higher quality.
The risks are obvious. dReps will be capable of amassing great voting power and, as we know from everyday politics, power corrupts. Even if a rule ensures that dReps cannot vote for their own projects, there will still be opportunity for behind-the-curtain deals. While this can be partially mitigated by full transparency (e.g. dReps’ votes are disclosed publicly), it is impossible to guarantee a dRep’s honesty and integrity, and we must expect that — among the majority honest and dedicated dReps — there will be some whose priority is personal gain. What do you think can be done in order to ensure the honesty of dReps? Share your comments on Twitter.
UPDATE: maximum limits will be applied to dReps. More details to follow in the next article.
In the next article, we’ll discuss two other key changes: the awarding of grants in fixed amounts of ADA (rather than a fixed amount of USD), and the new measures in place to make projects more accountable. Follow NuFi on Twitter for Project Catalyst updates.