Charles Hoskinson, Co-Founder and CEO of IOG (aka “IOHK”), the blockchain technology firm behind Cardano’s R&D, said that Cardano ($ADA) will soon be entering the Voltaire era, which is the fifth (and final) stage of its development roadmap.

Here is Cardano Foundation explaining what “Voltaire era” means:

The Voltaire era of Cardano will provide the final pieces required for the Cardano network to become a self-sustaining system. With the introduction of a voting and treasury system, network participants will be able to use their stake and voting rights to influence the future development of the network.

For the Cardano network to become truly decentralized, it will require not only the distributed infrastructure introduced during the Shelley era but also the capacity to be maintained and improved over time in a decentralized way. To that end, the Voltaire era will add the ability for network participants to present Cardano improvement proposals that can be voted on by stakeholders, leveraging the already existing staking and delegation process.

To fund the future development of the network, Voltaire will also see the addition of a treasury system, whereby a fraction of all transaction fees will be pooled to provide funds for development activities undertaken following the voting process.

When both a voting and treasury system are in place, Cardano will be truly decentralized and no longer under IOHK’s management. Instead, Cardano’s future will be in the hands of the community, who will have everything they need to grow and evolve Cardano from the secure, decentralized basis established by IOHK.

On 1- September 2022, IOG published a blog post (titled “Project Catalyst and Voltaire bring power to the people”), which started by saying that Voltaire is their way of enabling Cardano to be self-sustaining, which would then allow “the community to maintain the Cardano blockchain while continuing to develop it by proposing and implementing system improvements”, thereby giving $ADA holders “the power to make decisions.”

The blog post then went on to say:

“Rigorous research lies at the heart of building a solid blockchain. July’s Shelley summit included a presentation on the importance of funding for the growth of Cardano. This was based on research between Lancaster University and IOHK into the notion of a treasury system and an effective, democratic approach to funding Cardano’s long-term development. IOHK has now applied treasury mechanism capabilities in Project Catalyst, which combines research, social experiments and community consent to establish an open, democratic culture within the Cardano community.”

Finally, IOG mentioned that “after a successful closed user group trial earlier which started this summer, Project Catalyst will very soon be opened up to its first public beta program.”

On 16 September 2020, IOG announced the “launch of Project Catalyst’s first public fund, an important first step into the world of on-chain governance, treasury, and community innovation for Cardano.”