A smart contract is an operational foundation that has led the blockchains to turn into the disruptive phenomenon that they are at present. Blockchains were initially designed with the sole aim to remove the intermediary delays as well as costs from any kind of transaction but smart contracts have led them to become a podium to launch and run an array of applications across domains and use cases. The uprise in DeFi applications and expansion of blockchain applicability across industries has had a multifold impact on how smart contracts behave and how they are developed. What gave smart contracts this power is the Smart Contract Platforms.
Smart Contract Platforms
Blockchains provide Web 3.0 infrastructures that facilitate conditionally triggerable codes to execute on the occurrence of pre-specified events. These infrastructures are called Smart Contract Platforms and these executable codes are the smart contracts. Smart contract platforms enable execution as well as verification of smart contracts. The top ones among the smart contract platforms support programming and testing facilities too. The Defi boom has rippled down the growth and opportunities for dApps, smart contracts, and consequently smart contract platforms.
There is no dearth of smart contract platforms across technology stacks to create and deploy dApps with functionalities relying on smart contracts. Evaluating every single blockchain and choosing the best smart contract platform available on it is not just time-consuming but complicated as well. To help businesses with the same we have enumerated the top 10 smart contract platforms for the year 2022. But before they are enlisted, it is important to understand what makes a platform cut through the crowd and stand out to be among the best smart contract platforms available in the blockchain market.
Here’s a condensed checklist to evaluate the characteristics and facilities provided by a smart contract platform to appraise a smart contract platform:
- Convenient smart contract creation and intelligent execution facilities.
- Smart contract automation and implementation convenience.
- Ease of cross-border transactions.
- Support for crypto and fiat transactions.
- Security is a significant concern for any online give and take, so it is for smart contract-enabled transactions as well.
- Maintenance of data as well as blockchain integrity and backup facilities to accommodate any major system failures.
- And as is with most present-day commodities and applications, access and applicability at a global level.
The Top 10 Smart Contract Platforms Available Today
The smart contract platforms are compared based on scalability, ease of entry, performance, and cost of deployment.
Being the pioneer of smart contract ecosystems, Ethereum has held its position since 2015, the year it was launched, and continues to be the most promising choice because of its ease of entry despite the high prices. As Ethereum is the forerunner, it is the locus of DeFi applications. It encompasses more than 85% of the DeFi market.
Being in the process of switching to PoS completely, Ethereum does intend to run faster and stronger among the blockchains although no one can be entirely sure of the after-effects of this transition, once accomplished. It is worth watching indeed.
Scaling has been one major concern for Ethereum, with PoS it is expected to be gone soon, what remains a concern is the impact on the L2 scaling solutions like Polygon running on Ethereum. With market capturing dApps like MakerDao, Curve finance, open-sea, and Uniswap hopefully, Ethereum is going to hold its position as the leader in the smart contract ecosystems.
A blockchain with more than a dozen platforms on it to deploy smart contracts was launched in 2017 with the goal to amplify the interoperability and scalability of DeFi applications that were taking over web 3.0 by storm at that time.
Attributed to its modular framework, Polkadot is able to offer the developers opportunities to select the most suitable components for their applications. Its u.s.p. remains its shared security model that relieves individual users(businesses creating parachains) of the struggle to arrange for and maintain miners on individual parachains yet each one has its own economics and incentive structures.
Presently with leading parachains like clover, moonbeam, scala, polkafoundry, and clover Polkadot is running strong in the race. Being low cost and offering an easy interface with solutions, it has gained a lot of popularity and has been attracting crypto from the market.
Polkadot was launched in 2020 as a relay chain with a goal to enable inter-currency transfer through its unique bridging mechanism while offering high-speed transactions. Developed under the guidance of Ethereum co-creator Gavin Wood it supports more than 20 languages. Some of the dApps on Polkadot include Solar Flare, StellaSwap, Beamswap, Moonscape, and Crystal Finance.
Cardano was launched with the goal to have a balanced and sustainable ecosystem of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts in October 2017. Leveraging Ouroboros and EUTXO(Extended Unspent Transaction Output) protocols with Proof of Stake for consensus, this permissionless platform has evolved through 5 stages called “eras” in Cardano terminology. Through these stages, the goal is to achieve sustainability, scalability, and interoperability, the three weaknesses of the existing ecosystem.
Having dedicated, well-researched, and highly functional languages like Goguen, Marlowe, and Plutus powered by Haskell for developers to conveniently develop dApps and deploy smart contracts thus making the whole ecosystem more accessible globally. Haskell enables the code written to be correct and well-suited for web 3.0 applications, specifically decentralized ledgers, traceability, and identity management.
With popular dApps like ERGO DEX, MELD, Sundae Swap, and Ardana and a whopping 73% of currency staked in above 2900 pools, Cardano seems to have captured user trust and seems to be going on track in accordance with its goal.
Launched as a third-generation self-amending decentralized network using DPoS in 2014, Arthur Breitman the man behind Tezos spotted 4 major drawbacks in the then-existing blockchains: tedious hard forks, high transaction costs, uni-language transaction facility, and security concerns hindering mass adoption.
Tezos was launched to overcome the existing blockchain issues and the ICO conducted post its public launch in 2018, raised the then highest $232 million. Despite that, due to delays in coin offerings, it lost its value and suffered a steep fall until March 2020 when the update Cathrage 2.0 was applied and the coin started gaining momentum thereon. Though, it is back on the downward path in-sync with the whole crypto market since 2022.
Having an on-chain self-governance mechanism Tezos is highly suitable for deploying smart contracts. Tezos utilizes a reduced-instruction set purely functional programing language called Michealson to exercise LPoS (leased PoS) and support Turing-complete smart contracts. This language is designed to enable nimble formal verification, a basic need for sustenance of any blockchain network. Objkt.com, Fxhash, Teia, Versum, and Trooperz are among the renowned dApps on this platform.
Stellar was launched by the co-founder of Ripple in 2014, even before Ethereum came in. Yet! It took a tremendous amount of time and a few updates to reach where it is today. Designed to simplify cross-border payments into cost-effective and quick money remittance solutions, Stellar has been on the block for quite a while now. Aimed at accommodating the unaccounted masses to have access to banking services, Stellar had commendably smoothened out the functional kinks by 2018, when it saw 32000 times of uproar in the prices of “Lumens”, the associated Currency.
Having a fundamentally different verification mechanism for the transactions, Stellar follows FBA (Federated Byzantine Agreement) algorithm that uses quorum slices to validate the transactions by the chosen trustworthy nodes, which has exponentially expedited Stellar’s transaction and cross-border payments time and has remarkably reduced the applicable costs while acting as a deterrent for DoS attacks.
The DeFi world has inspired the introduction of AMM (Automated Market Maker) which has set up a new base for launching finance-dApps and deploying smart contracts on the Stellar chain. Preparing to be the leading cross-border payments enabler in the south Pacific region, it is set to be a platform connecting local institutions, small businesses, and non-profits thus providing a secure platform for commercial transactions.
Stellar is currently the underlying foundation for dApps like Papaya, Starlight, SatoshiPay, Keybase, and many more.
Dubbed as Ethereum killer, Ethereum rival, Market hogger (against Ethereum), and much more Solana was rolled out in 2017 as an ICO with a dozen new protocols to overcome existing blockchain shortcomings and provide for a fast (super fast) transaction processing mechanism with costs as low as $0.000015. While the public launch took place in 2020.
With more than 60% of the stake withheld within the development and stakeholder class and the rest within the user community, Solana has been facing skepticism since day 1 regarding its high vulnerability towards centralization as well as for its ambitious goal to solve the infamous blockchain trilemma.
Solana uses Proof of History as the validation metric, which provides protection against long-range attacks and enables horizontal scaling. It uses PoS in combination with PoH to support decentralization. Solana is home to numerous dApps like MeanFI, Raydium, Magic Eden, Solend, and Wormhole that has migrated across half a dozen frameworks and seems to have been resting on Solana for a while now. Solana also is a preferred framework for many popular NFT marketplaces.
Algorand was launched in February 2018 and then re-released in April 2019. It evolved after a massive scar and has been growing since. The drop was attributed not to the platform’s shortcomings but to the investors who out of their vested interests sold the tokens causing a hiatus in the market and spoiling the reputation of the project.
Its creation was aimed at partly solving the blockchain trilemma while staying carbon-negative, through high transaction throughput, strong security, and “actual” decentralization and partly to address the pain points that had remained unaddressed in the financial structures globally for a long time.
Algorand is among the first blockchains to offer anything close to a real-time transaction finality and thus enable a borderless economy. Algorand provides AVM that directly supports TEAL, the smart contract programming language for this platform, which enables developers to conveniently draft smart contracts for the platform. A few examples of dApps on Algorand include Algofi, AlgoDEX, Tinyman, Folks Finance, Octorand.
No transaction fees, is what this platform running on the EOSIO blockchain aims to achieve. After Bitcoin and Ethereum reached a point where the gas fee hikes have gone to unprecedented levels, June 2018 brought the launch of EOS, a smart contract platform that aimed with no inbuilt fee to enable blockchain and its features to be accessible globally to one and all.
The platform’s consensus mechanism is based on DPOS protocol, as the team calls it an “entirely stake-based system”. The staking process is based upon three resources –
Bandwidth – minimal disk space needed to transmit information across to the peer node.
Power – The cps processing strength required to run a dApp on the EOS platform
RAM – The storage required to store the data on the blockchain.
The users must buy EOS to use and build dApps on the platform and those are the only costs needed to be borne by the user. As a result, the dApps turn out to be cheaper to use than the ones built on any other platform.
The platform was designed to be horizontally scalable and upgradable to accommodate cross-chain applications in the ecosystem. Which arguably is the most remarkable vision for a platform back in 2016 when it was ideated. Additionally, the EOS developers are provided with extensive tools and manuals to make the best use of the platform and utilize the available features optimally.
The Waves blockchain came in 2016 while the smart contract platform was launched in 2018, with the idea of creating awareness for mass adoption through simplicity. The design is based on the idea of enabling non-programming averse masses to be able to download and deploy smart contracts without really having to learn about how and what of the contract technicalities.
The upgrade helped developers find a balance between the aspirations and accessibility of the smart contract platform and let them introduce multi-sig addresses, voting mechanisms, oracles, token freezing, and many more such features.
The blockchain uses a little deviated version of PoS known as LPoS to attain a decentralized consensus. Additionally, the platform inherently supports Fiat Gateways allowing for payments to be made “in cash” similar to using a normal bank account. Waves Ducks, Vires.finance, Neutrino, Swop.fi, Escrow, and Wave Punks are a few of the renowned projects on waves.
Rolled out in March 2015, as a platform carrying the best of both Bitcoin and Ethereum, NEM has become the platform of choice for applications involving logistics tracking, conducting ICOs, decentralized authentication services, and fintech through its Smart Asset System.
NEM uses POI (Proof of Importance) as a consensus algorithm that takes three factors into account namely, size and number of transactions, vested stake, and transaction partners to ‘harvest’ a block. NEM’s POI and delegated-POI are analogous to Ethereum’s POS and delegated-POS. Catapult, the NEM blockchain Engine released in 2017 has been optimized keeping Smart Contracts to enable secure decentralized asset exchange. It enables aggregate transactions, and the four-layer architecture enables a multi-sig facility through a binary nested signatures logic.
Unique to NEM, is the possibility of harvesting if even the node is offline as the smart contracts are executed off the blockchain. In addition, there is no requirement for any special equipment and hence it is environmentally safe and inexpensive to participate in the consensus. DApps on NEM include Mijin, Namespaces, Copyright Bank, LuxTag.
|Block- chain||TPS(Max)||TVL||Technology||Permission||Roadmap Link|
|Ethereum||14-37||$52.82b||Solidity, VSCode, Ganache CLI, Truffle, Parity, Node.jsEVM||Public||https://messari.io/asset/ethereum/profile/roadmap|
|Polkadot||1.5K||$24,363||Rust, Ruby,Go, C++, Haskell, Java, Python,Substrate, Diener, Halva, SRtool,||Public and Private||https://messari.io/asset/polkadot/profile/roadmap|
|Cardano||250||$123.66m||Marlowe, Plutus, Haskell,Hydra||Public||https://messari.io/asset/cardano/profile/roadmap|
|Stellar||1K||$23.21m||Horizon,signatures- multisig,batching,sequence, time bounds||Consortium||https://messari.io/asset/stellar/profile/roadmap|
|Solana||710K||$2.69m||C++, .Net, Scala, GO, Rust,Solana CLI, Dockers,
CLI with JSON RPC APIs
|Waves||0.5K||$802.06m||Ride,Waves IDE, Surfboard,
Waves DApp UI
|NEM||4K||$15m||Go,Java,Python,AWS, Map- reduce,TelosB||Public||https://nemproject.github.io/nem-docs/pages/History/Roadmap/default.en.html|
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