Coinbase-backed Mara introduces an Ethereum layer-2 testnet

The company had initially planned to launch a layer 1 blockchain last year. Instead, it’s now introducing an L2, dubbed Mara Chain, “in response to evolving blockchain industry trends.”

Coinbase-backed Mara introduces an Ethereum layer-2 testnet
Assets from Mara

African cryptocurrency company Mara has launched a testnet for its upcoming Mara Chain, an Ethereum-compatible layer-2 (L2) network. The Mara Chain will offer a secure, scalable, cost-effective platform for developers to build decentralized applications (dapps). 

Key quote  

Chi Nnadi, CEO and co-founder of Mara, said in a press release shared with Mariblock:  

“Blockchain technology has become a necessary utility and infrastructure that is critical and essential to the development of every country. Similar to electricity or the internet, opportunities abound in Africa that can be harnessed using blockchain as a leapfrog technology to deliver widespread utility for African people.

Mara Chain delivers to Africa the infrastructure needed to build our own homegrown solutions.” 

Key facts  

  • The Mara Chain is an Optimism fork, which means it inherits the Optimism mainnet’s legacy. This allows developers across Africa to build and test their decentralized applications.  
  • Mara highlights some of the platform’s benefits: sub-second transaction speeds, low gas fees, and interoperability with other Optimism-based networks. 
  • The company added that its layer-two network would enable on-the-ground settlements for Mara merchants and provide the infrastructure for African developers to build the next generation of applications. 

Be smart  

  • A blockchain testnet is a simulated platform where developers can test and experiment with blockchain applications before going live.
  • Optimism is an L2 network built to help users avoid congestion and high fees on the Ethereum blockchain. 

Responding to a question on the real-world use cases of the Mara Chain, a representative to Mariblock: 

“Through our alliance with Circle, we enhance liquidity with USDC, unlocking various defi use cases, for example, on-the-ground settlement to our network of Mara merchants that are now starting to accept Mara wallet as a fast, reliable and inexpensive payment solution for everyday goods and services.” 

Change of strategy 

  • When Mara raised $23 million last year, CEO Nnadi said his company would launch a layer-one (L1) blockchain network in the fourth quarter of 2022 rather than the layer-two it plans to introduce. 
  • The Mara spokesperson told Mariblock that instead of isolating the Mara Chain with a competing layer-1 chain such as Ethereum, the company aligned it with Optimism’s super chain vision, contributing to the expanding Optimism chains ecosystem and leveraging the Ethereum security. 
“In response to evolving blockchain industry trends, we’ve transitioned to a layer-2 solution, recognizing the growing popularity of app-specific chains and L2s’ defining role for their improved performance and user-friendliness while maintaining ties to the established Ethereum layer-1 network.” 

State of play: Mara’s decision against building another layer-one blockchain mirrors a recent proposal by the builders of the Celo layer-one blockchain, CLabs, seeking to convert the network into an Ethereum layer-2 solution.

  • Last year, Mara raised $23 million in equity and token sales. Investors included Coinbase Ventures, now-defunct Alameda Research (FTX), Distributed Global, TQ Ventures, DIGITAL, Nexo, Huobi Ventures, Day One Ventures, Infinite Capital, DAO Jones and about 100 other crypto investors.