Developing smart contracts in Rust#

On the Concordium blockchain smart contracts are deployed as Wasm modules, but Wasm is designed primarily as a compilation target and is not convenient to write by hand. Instead we can write our smart contracts in the Rust programming language, which has good support for compiling to Wasm.

Smart contracts do not have to be written in Rust. This is simply the first SDK we provide. Manually written Wasm, or Wasm compiled from C, C++, AssemblyScript, and others, is equally valid on the chain, as long as it adheres to the Wasm limitations we impose.

See also

For more information on the functions described below, see the concordium_std API for writing smart contracts on the Concordium blockchain in Rust.

See also

See Smart contract modules for more information about smart contract modules.

A smart contract module is developed in Rust as a library crate, which is then compiled to Wasm. To obtain correct exports, the crate-type attribute must be set to ["cdylib", "rlib"] in the Cargo.toml file:

crate-type = ["cdylib", "rlib"]

Writing a smart contract using concordium_std#

It is recommended to use the concordium_std crate, which provides a more Rust-like experience for developing smart contract modules and calling host functions.

The crate enables writing init and receive functions as simple Rust functions annotated with #[init(...)] and #[receive(...)], respectively.

Here is an example of a smart contract that implements a counter:

use concordium_std::*;

type State = u32;

#[init(contract = "counter")]
fn counter_init<S: HasStateApi>(
    _ctx: &impl HasInitContext,
    _state_builder: &mut StateBuilder<S>,
) -> InitResult<State> {
    let state = 0;

#[receive(contract = "counter", name = "increment", mutable)]
fn contract_receive<S: HasStateApi>(
    ctx: &impl HasReceiveContext,
    host: &mut impl HasHost<State, StateApiType = S>,
) -> ReceiveResult<()> {
    ensure!(ctx.sender().matches_account(&ctx.owner())); // Only the owner can increment
    *host.state_mut() += 1;

There are a number of things to notice:

  • The type of the functions:

    • An init function must be of type (&impl HasInitContext, &mut StateBuilder) -> InitResult<MyState> where MyState is a type that implements the Serialize 1 trait.

    • A receive function, which, by default, cannot mutate the state, must take a S: HasStateApi type parameter, a &impl HasReceiveContext, and a &impl HasHost<MyState, StateApiType = S> parameter, and return a ReceiveResult<MyReturnValue>, where MyReturnValue is type that implements Serialize.

    • A receive function can be allowed to mutate the state by adding the mutable attribute, in which case the host parameter becomes mutable: &mut impl HasHost<MyState, StateApiType = S>. The other types and requirements remain unchanged as compared to the immutable receive functions.

  • The annotation #[init(contract = "counter")] marks the function it is applied to as the init function of the contract named counter. Concretely, this means that behind the scenes this macro generates an exported function with the required signature and name init_counter.

  • #[receive(contract = "counter", name = "increment", mutable)] deserializes and supplies the state to be manipulated directly. Behind the scenes this annotation also generates an exported function with name counter.increment that has the required signature, and does all of the boilerplate of deserializing the state into the required type State. Mutable receive functions also serialize and save the state once the function finishes. This means that you should only use the mutable attribute if it is necessary. Otherwise, the state will appear as having mutated and you will also pay for the cost of saving and serializing the state.


Note that deserialization is not without cost, and in some cases the user might want more fine-grained control over the use of host functions. For such use cases the annotations support a low_level option, which has less overhead, but requires more from the user.


If the state contains one or more of the types StateBox, StateMap, or StateSet, it should implement Serial and DeserialWithState instead. The difference is the deserialization, where Serialize is a combination of the traits Serial and Deserial. State* types are essentially pointers to data stored in state, and when serialized, only the pointer is written, while the values are stored in the state. To load the values again, the state context is needed, hence the DeserialWithState.

Serializable state and parameters#

On-chain, the state of an instance is represented as a prefix tree, where nodes in the tree can have data in the form of a byte array. The instance uses functions provided by the host environment to create, delete, and find nodes in the tree. The host also provides functions for reading, writing, and resizing the byte array held by a particular node in the tree.

For simple contracts, the complete contract state is stored in the root node of the state tree. For this to work, the state must implement the Serialize trait which contains (de-)serialization functions. The concordium_std crate includes this trait and implementations for most types in the Rust standard library. It also includes macros for deriving the trait for user-defined structs and enums.

use concordium_std::*;

struct MyState {

For contracts that maintain a large state, it is often beneficial to split the state into multiple nodes in the state tree. concordium_std crate provides ergonomic types for this purpose, namely StateMap and StateSet. Which provide an interface similar to that of a map and set. These types cannot implement Serialize, but they do implement Serial and DeserialWithState 1. concordium_std also has a macros for deriving these two types for user-defined structs and enums.

use concordium_std::*;

#[derive(Serial, DeserialWithState)]
#[concordium(state_parameter = S)]
struct MyState<S, T> {
    a: StateBox<String, S>,
    b: Vec<T>,

Parameters to init and receive functions must implement Serialize, where as the state must implement Serialize or Serial + DeserialWithState.


Strictly speaking we only need to deserialize bytes to our parameter type, but it is convenient to be able to serialize types when writing unit tests.

Working with parameters#

Parameters to the init and receive functions are represented as byte arrays. While the byte arrays can be used directly, they can also be deserialized into structured data.

The simplest way to deserialize a parameter is through the get() function of the Get trait.

As an example, see the following contract in which the parameter ReceiveParameter is deserialized on the highlighted line:

use concordium_std::*;

type State = u32;

struct ReceiveParameter{
    should_add: bool,
    value: u32,

#[init(contract = "parameter_example")]
fn init<S: HasStateApi>(
    _ctx: &impl HasInitContext,
    _state_builder: &mut StateBuilder,
) -> InitResult<State> {
    let initial_state = 0;

#[receive(contract = "parameter_example", name = "receive", mutable)]
fn receive<S: HasStateApi>(
    ctx: &impl HasReceiveContext,
    host: &mut impl HasHost<State, StateApiType = S>,
) -> ReceiveResult<()> {
    let parameter: ReceiveParameter = ctx.parameter_cursor().get()?;
    if parameter.should_add {
        *host.state_mut() += parameter.value;

The receive function above is inefficient in that it deserializes the value even when it is not needed, i.e., when should_add is false.

To get more control, and in this case, more efficiency, we can deserialize the parameter using the Read trait:

#[receive(contract = "parameter_example", name = "receive_optimized", mutable)]
fn receive_optimized<S: HasStateApi>(
    ctx: &impl HasReceiveContext,
    host: &mut impl HasHost<State, StateApiType = S>,
) -> ReceiveResult<()> {
    let mut cursor = ctx.parameter_cursor();
    let should_add: bool = cursor.read_u8()? != 0;
    if should_add {
        // Only decode the value if it is needed.
        let value: u32 = cursor.read_u32()?;
        *host.state_mut() += value;

Notice that the value is only deserialized if should_add is true. While the gain in efficiency is minimal in this example, it could have an substantial impact for more complex examples.

Parameters have a size limit of 65535B. There is no return value size limit (apart from energy).

Working with queries#

Queries can be called from smart contracts to query an account balance, contract balance, or the current exchange rates.

Query an account balance#

To query account balances, the following are available:

// Query the balance of an account.
let account_balance = host.account_balance(account_address)?;

Assuming the account exists, this returns the public/unshielded balance of an account, the currently staked balance, and balance locked in release schedules. Any amount received during the transaction until the point of querying is reflected in the balance.


When sending a smart contract update transaction, the invoker provides a max energy cost for the execution. CCD equivalent to the max energy cost is reserved on the invoker account during the execution of the contract. Because of this, querying the balance of the invoker will result in the current account balance minus the amount of CCD reserved to cover the max energy cost as well as the amount included in the transaction.

Some part of the balance might be used for staking or/and is locked in releases by scheduled transfers. Which makes the amount unavailable for transferring. All of this information can be accessed as:

// The amount which is available for transfers.
let available_balance = account_balance.available();
// The staked amount.
let staked_balance = account_balance.staked();
// The amount locked in scheduled transfers.
let locked_balance = account_balance.locked();
// The total public balance, i.e. including staked and locked_balance.
let total_balance =;

Query a contract balance#

To query the current balance of a contract, the following is available:

let contract_balance = host.contract_balance(address)?;

Assuming the contract exists, this returns the current amount held by the contract. Any amount transferred or received during the same transaction until the point of querying is reflected in the balance.


Although it is valid for a contract to query its own balance, it is cheaper to use host.self_balance().

Query exchange rates#

To query exchange rates, the following are available:

let exchange_rates = host.exchange_rates();

The result contains the exchange rates currently used by the chain. These are the micro CCD per Euro rate and the Euro per NRG rate.

let micro_ccd_per_euro = exchange_rates.micro_ccd_per_euro();
let euro_per_energy = exchange_rates.euro_per_energy();

Each rate is a ratio of two 64-bit unsigned integers.

Building a smart contract module with cargo-concordium#

The Rust compiler has good support for compiling to Wasm using the wasm32-unknown-unknown target. However, even when compiling with --release the resulting build includes large sections of debug information in custom sections, which are not useful for smart contracts on-chain.

To optimize the build and allow for new features such as embedding schemas, we recommend using cargo-concordium to build smart contracts.

See also

For instructions on how to build using cargo-concordium see Compile a Rust smart contract module.

Best practices#

Avoid creating black holes#

A smart contract is not required to use the amount of CCD send to it, and by default a smart contract does not define any behavior for emptying the balance of an instance, in case someone were to send some CCD. These CCD would then be forever lost, and there would be no way to recover them.

Therefore it is good practice for smart contracts that are not dealing with CCD, to ensure the sent amount of CCD is zero and reject any invocations which are not. Using the #[init(...)] and #[receive(...)] macros will help you in this endeavour, as they will cause functions to return a NotPayble error if they receive a non-zero amount of CCD. To enable receiving CCD for a function, use the payable attribute in the macro, e.g.: #[init(..., payable)] and #[receive(..., payable)].