The ADA token broke out to a new all-time high Thursday, nearing $100 billion in market cap.

Cardano’s ADA token surged more than 7% Thursday to an all-time high over $3 as the project’s lead developer announced that smart-contracts functionality had been activated on a test network, bringing the blockchain a step closer to competition with Ethereum.

The ADA price rose as high as $3.09 before slipping to around $2.94 as of press time.

The latest rally came as lead developer IOHK, headed by Charles Hoskinson, tweeted that the Cardano test network had successfully deployed smart-contracts capability, and that the focus would now turn to the “Alonzo” upgrade of the main network, “still on track for deployment on Sept. 12.”

Cardano is currently the third-largest cryptocurrency by market cap ($93.7 billion), behind rivals bitcoin ($934 billion) and Ethereum’s ether ($439 billion). The ADA token has soared 1,583% this year, versus 69% for bitcoin and 417% for ether.

Cardano is considered one of the so-called “Ethereum-killers” – fast, programmable blockchains that might eventually unseat Ethereum as the leader in the decentralized finance (DeFi) space, as well as in other use cases like non-fungible tokens or NFTs. The group, which also includes Solana, Terra and Polkadot, saw triple-digit price gains last month as Ethereum looks to resolve critical issues such as congestion and high fees on its network.

Testnet deployments and network upgrades known as “forks” are widely viewed as significant milestones for a cryptocurrency’s development, as nascent blockchain projects slowly mature and add new features.

According to an informational video from IOHK, the recent upgrade will aim to test for stability, security, and the foundational code to write smart contracts is working properly.

The Cardano network is in the third phase of its five-era roadmap. The current “Goguen” era aims to add smart contract functionality to Cardano, giving developers the ability to build decentralized applications on the blockchain.

In the Cardano ecosystem, Alonzo is one of the sub-phases of the Goguen era, which is further split into the the three Blue, White and Purple phases. Cardano’s smart-contract language is called Plutus.

Cardano is eyeing Sunday, Sept. 12, as the switch date to its mainnet, giving developers just under two weeks in the current test environment.

A spokesperson for Cardano did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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