What Is Moonbeam (GLMR)?
Tech Deep Dives

What Is Moonbeam (GLMR)?

2 years ago

CoinMarketCap takes a deep dive into Polkadot’s first fully functional parachain.

What Is Moonbeam (GLMR)?

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The First Fully Functional Parachain on Polkadot

There are several competing visions for blockchain’s future, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Some suggest the world wide web will run from one enormous blockchain; others envision a global network comprising thousands of independent blockchains, each with its own features and specialties.

Whether we migrate en masse to one giant blockchain or spread ourselves out across numerous interoperable networks is perhaps a question best left to the crypto talking heads and Twitterati.

But we will say this; before a global, multi-chain blockchain network has a chance of replacing the centralized systems we use today; we must first solve the problem of interoperability.

That is to say, sovereign blockchains must be able to communicate and exchange information with many other blockchains quickly and easily, a technical development which hasn’t been fully realized.

Blockchain’s lack of interoperability is not a new problem, nor is it easily solved. In fact, interoperability could well be the trickiest problem standing between blockchain and mass adoption.

But it’s the problem that Moonbeam aims to solve.

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Where Did Moonbeam Come From?

The Moonbeam network quietly emerged into the crypto space in January 2020 to facilitate cross-chain communication between the biggest blockchain networks.

Despite its promising manifesto, the platform lingered in relative obscurity until July the same year when Derek Yoo, Moonbeam’s founder and commander-in-chief, won a grant for the platform from the Web3 Foundation.

Following the grant and vote of confidence from the Web3 foundation, Moonbeam launched its Testnet in September 2020. The launch was a triumph, but Moonbeam didn’t fully break into its stride until November 2021, when the network secured a Polkadot parachain slot.

More than 200,000 Moonbeam supporters delegated nearly a billion dollars’ worth of DOT tokens to push Moonbeam over the finish line and into a parachain slot. The Moonbeam team began migrating the platform onto Polkadot, and on January 11th, 2022, Moonbeam officially went live on Polkadot.

To really get to grips with Moonbeam, you should be aware of how Polkadot works, and why Moonbeam fought tooth and nail to win one of its coveted parachain slots. We won’t dive too deep into Polkadot now, but here’s a quick overview in case you aren’t familiar.

Polkadot’s Parachains

Polkadot is often referred to as the blockchain of blockchains. Founded by Gavin Wood, the platform’s ethos is that no single blockchain works optimally for every use case, and the web therefore requires an underlying layer linking multiple chains together. Accordingly, Polkadot serves as this layer-0 foundation which supports an expansive network of layer-1 blockchains, called parachains.

Parachains are unified by a single chain in the centre of the network, called the relay chain. All the parachains, including Moonbeam, run in parallel to, and link in with, the relay chain, as well as all the other parachains.

Every parachain maintains control and sovereignty over its network while benefiting from Polkadot’s shared security and cross-chain interoperability; Polkadot’s parachains can exchange any type of data, including tokens, data, smart contracts, credentials, and even off-chain oracle data like stock prices.

Polkadot describes the benefits of parachains as follows, “Parachains end the era of siloed blockchains, creating a decentralized, connected internet of blockchains where before there existed only isolated networks with their own tribalistic communities.”

Derek Yoo shared his take on parachains during a podcast interview in 2020, “Part of our attraction to Polkadot is this ability for different chains to leverage each other’s specialized services.”

That is to say, by operating as a parachain, Moonbeam can work alongside, collaborate with, and benefit from a much wider and more diverse community that it could elsewhere.

Check out our Polkadot deep dive here for the full rundown.

What Does Moonbeam Bring to the Table?

As discussed earlier, interoperability is the mountain standing between where we are now and where we hope to get to; a free web which relies on decentralized, blockchain-based systems rather than monopolized, centrally controlled networks.

And while Moonbeam isn’t the only protocol carving out a path up and over the mountain, it does offer a number of advantageous tools, features, and services which many of its competitors lack.

A Broad And Growing Ecosystem

Moonbeam’s community comprises more than eighty protocols and integrations so far, and more are joining all the time.

To this point, Moonbeam has integrated numerous APIs, bridges, oracles, DApps, DeFi, explorers, storage providers and Web3 wallets, all of which can gain access to and communicate with the various ecosystems linked with Moonbeam, like Polkadot and Ethereum.

EVM Compatibility

Developers with Solidity-based smart contracts currently running on the Ethereum Virtual Machine can move them over to Moonbeam without too many changes. This flexibility is evidently advantageous, as the time and cost required to move smart contracts from one network to another often dissuades developers from doing so, even when such a move might accelerate their protocol’s growth.

Web3 API

Moonbeam’ API provides both extensive access to Web3 networks as well as an easier journey for developers who want redeploy their Solidity smart contracts and Ethereum-based DApps onto Moonbeam.

Substrate Compatibility

Substrate is a modular blockchain framework used by developers for building blockchains tailored to their needs using reusable components called pallets. It uses the Rust programming language and is the framework most developers use when building parachains for the Polkadot network.

As Moonbeam is a Substrate-based blockchain, apps integrated with its network benefit from interoperability between the Polkadot and Ethereum chains, as well as others like Bitcoin.

Developers can also use Substrate-compatible ecosystem tools commonly used on Ethereum, including block explorers, front-end development libraries, and wallets, as well as development tools like Truffle and Remix.

Cross-Chain Integrations

Several bridges have already integrated with Moonbeam, including cBridge and Multichain Swap Protocol. Each bridge enables protocols on Moonbeam to migrate assets to protocols on other chains. As more bridges integrate with Moonbeam, the platform becomes increasingly interoperable.

Familiar Smart Contract Languages

Although Solidity is the primary language used on Moonbeam, the protocol supports any language that compiles down to EVM bytecode, like Vyper, for example. Developers familiar with Moonbeam’s programming languages will clearly have an easier time when migrating to the network - and will probably be more inclined to do so.

First Mover Advantage

By virtue of being the first Polkadot parachain to get up and running, DApps and protocols integrated with Moonbeam’s benefit from early simultaneous access to both the Ethereum and Polkadot networks.

Obviously, developers don’t want their protocol to be the only one missing out on Moonbeam’s interoperability, evidenced by Moonbeam’s fast-growing community. Blue chip cryptos like Chainlink, popular exchanges like SushiSwap, and even hardware brands like Ledger count themselves among Moonbeam’s partners.

Who Might Benefit From Moonbeam?

Ethereum-Based Projects: Ethereum apps suffering from spiralling cost and scalability challenges can easily move elements of their workloads to Moonbeam without too much hassle. A hybrid approach is also possible, whereby an application can simultaneously reside on Ethereum and Moonbeam.
Polkadot-Based Projects: Polkadot applications without smart contract functionality can enhance their services or add functionality that isn’t available through Polkadot’s relay chain.
DApp Developers: Fledgling developers looking to build on Polkadot can use Moonbeam to expand their reach to other chains while leveraging Moonbeam’s other helpful tools and services.

What is Glimmer (GLMR)?

Moonbeam’s native token is called Glimmer (GLMR).

GLMR serves a number of important functions, including:

  • Paying transaction and smart contract execution fees (like ETH does on Ethereum)
  • Facilitating network security
  • On-chain governance, whereby holders can propose referenda, vote on proposals, and elect council members.

Moonbeam depends on its native utility token, Glimmer (GLMR), for its operations. The token is essential to the parachain’s design as it powers the smart contracts, facilitates the security of the network, and enables DApp performance.

There will be 1,600,000 GLMR tokens for sale during the ICO launch. The total supply of tokens is anticipated to be broken down in the following way:

  • Advisors - 6%
  • Foundation - 37%
  • Private Sale - 12%
  • Public Sale - 17%
  • Team - 15%
  • Seed Sale - 14%
Moonbeam also has a DApp through which users can stake their GLMR tokens. To learn more about staking GLMR tokens, check out the Moonbeam guide.


Moonriver is Moonbeam’s canary network. Like Moonbeam, Moonriver is an EVM-compatible smart contract platform, but one which developers use for testing new code in a live environment before shipping it to the Moonbeam network.

Moonriver launched as a parachain slot on Kusama - Polkadot’s canary network – on Aug. 26, 2021. In the following six weeks, Moonriver facilitated 2.5 million transactions, saw 128,000 wallets created, and had a quarter of a billion dollars in value deposited on its network.

For more information about Moonriver, see here.

What Might the Future Hold for Moonbeam?

Whether Moonbeam will maintain its momentum and earn a place among the blue chip cryptos remains to be seen.

But given the success of Moonriver’s parachain deployment, Moonbeam could indeed act as the catalyst that drives us towards an interoperable and multi-chain web.

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