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Today at Stellar’s 4th annual Meridian conference, the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF), the non-profit that supports the growth and development of the Stellar network, announced today that Soroban, the native smart contracts platform on the Stellar network, is live on Futurenet, an incentivized testing environment for first-wave developers. SDF also announced a $100M fund to support developers building on Soroban.

Soroban introduces Turing-complete smart contracts to the Stellar network, built on WASM and with Rust. Soroban on Stellar brings a whole new type of smart contracts platform to the market that is designed with purpose, built to perform, and, combined with the power of the Stellar network, will drive use cases built around expanding access to financial services.

“We built Soroban because, as developers, we didn’t see the kind of smart contracts platform we wanted to work with in the market,” said Tomer Weller, Vice President of Tech Strategy at the Stellar Development Foundation, and the lead developer on Soroban. “We saw the friction on other networks and our response is Soroban, smart contracts that are designed for a batteries-included developer experience, for scale, and for reliable access to financial rails through the Stellar network.”

With Soroban live on Futurenet, developers can now begin writing and deploying smart contracts in a testing environment and get rewarded for doing so.

The Soroban Adoption Fund dedicates $100M to support developers building products and tools for the Soroban ecosystem. The first incentive program, Sorobanathon: First Light, will reward eligible developers for testing Soroban and sharing their feedback through developer-generated Soroban content, including code examples, tutorials, and GitHub issues. More details on Sorobanathon: First Light are available at soroban.stellar.org.

With growing demand for web3 developers and research showing that web3 programming talent remains far outpaced by the global total of software engineers, the Fund aims to attract more builders to blockchain.

“The number of developers coming to build in web3 has been growing faster than ever, but to compete with more established industries, we need more talented builders coming to blockchain and crypto,” said Justin Rice, Vice President of Ecosystem at the Stellar Development Foundation. “With the Soroban Adoption Fund and programs like Sorobanathon: First Light, we hope to encourage more developers to come innovate with us.”

The Soroban Adoption Fund is part of SDF’s overall mandate, which has a dedicated 17B XLM to support growth and development on the Stellar network.

“This first Futurenet release is for the early adopters who are going to provide real time feedback that will shape this innovation on Stellar and help set a new standard for smart contracts. With support from the ecosystem, Soroban is creating a platform where developers don’t have to choose between performance and expressivity,” said Jed McCaleb, Co-Founder and Chief Architect at the Stellar Development Foundation.

SDF announced in March 2022 the plan to bring Turing-complete smart contracts to Stellar, sharing that it is a strategic piece of the technical roadmap to create more surface area for developers to innovate on the Stellar network.

This is the first Futurenet release. There will be periodic upgrades to the incentivized testnet, most notably in early Q1 2023. The launch of Soroban on Mainnet is expected in the first half of 2023.

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