Mary is the second of the two Hard Fork Combinator (HFC) events that are set to transition Cardano from Shelley, its staking phase, to Goguen, its smart contracts phase. Mary has already been applied to the Cardano Testnet at the beginning of February, with the mainnet upgrade originally scheduled for the end of the month.
According to an official announcement from IOHK, the update will introduce native tokens and multi-asset support to the blockchain. Unlike most blockchain networks, Cardano handles token issuance natively, which means the logic behind issuing tokens on the blockchain is based on the Cardano ledger itself. This enables the network to circumvent using smart contracts and constructing additional layers on top of the blockchain when issuing user-defined tokens.
This mechanism enables the tokens issued on Cardano to behave exactly like ADA, the blockchain’s base cryptocurrency. This way, transactions between native tokens and assets do not incur execution fees, making applications built on top of Cardano more efficient and affordable than on other blockchains.
The market reacted strongly to the news about the upgrade, pushing ADA’s price closer to its ATH. According to CoinMarketCap, the token’s price has increased by almost 25% in February and over 525% since the beginning of the year.