Ethereum Killers: Emerging Smart Contract Platforms to Rival ETH Dominance
Ethereum (ETH) set a new all-time high of $1,467.78 in the last 24 hours, its price surging as institutional investors turn bullish on the most dominant smart contract platform and most utilized blockchain for Dapps and DeFi.
Dapps are decentralized applications that are enabled by smart contracts—self-executing agreements that remove the need for a centralized intermediary. Dapps have the potential to cover a universe of use-cases, including decentralized finance (DeFi).
According to Defi Pulse, there is currently over $27 Billion total value locked in decentralized finance. Ethereum is the most dominant smart contract platform as the most popular blockchain application for developers and projects on which to build and launch Dapps.
While Ethereum dominance in decentralized finance (DeFi) cannot be denied, the ecosystems of rival smart contract platforms—who were all at one point or another labeled as an “Ethereum Killer”— all note significant value growth as well.
Ethereum killer blockchains like Cardano and Polkadot have both recorded year-to-date price gains of 104.88% and 99.85% respectively according to Crypto.com. These are also not the only blockchain platforms seeing a significant increase in value as the decentralized finance space continues to move in tandem with the booming cryptocurrency ecosystem.
The Ethereum Killers
There are many potential Ethereum killers— Tron (TRX), Tezos (XTZ), NEO (NEO), Vechain (VET), NEAR—below we take a look at just two Cardano (ADA) and Polkadot (DOT).
A lot has happened behind the scenes of Cardano over the last year. Its ecosystem is still evolving, as can be seen from the introduction of proof-of-stake not that long ago. The community remains very loyal to this project. ADA price increased over 300% price and has once held the moniker of ‘Ethereum killer”, even though both blockchains are heading in slightly different directions.
Cardano launched its Shelley mainnet in 2020, as part of its developments into a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain protocol.
While functional smart contracts are yet to be launched on the Cardano blockchain, the release of Shelley still marked a major achievement for the Cardano blockchain and drove more positive sentiment around the ADA token.
In March, Cardano is slated to undergo the Goguen update, which should see the release of these functional smart contracts. When the smart contracts are live, large-scale decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols and other decentralized applications would be able to launch on top of Cardano—giving it further utility and value.
Researchers at Binance Academy confirmed the smart contract integration of the Goguen update in a report:
"As of December 2020, functional smart contracts cannot be deployed on the blockchain platform. As part of the roadmap, this will roll out as a part of the Goguen update. Following Goguen, the Basho era focuses on optimization of scalability and interoperability, and the Voltaire era introduces a treasury system to address governance.”
Cardano's price has also seen around 104% growth in 2021 alone. Its native token, ADA, moved past Bitcoin Cash (BCH) to become the six-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. ADA is is currently trading at a price of 0.3569 at the time of writing.
Polkadot is seen as one of the most prominent rivals to Ethereum. The project was started by the Web3 Foundation with the aim of interoperability between blockchains to power a decentralized internet of the future.
The Polkadot blockchain is considered a new-generation blockchain and it connects private and public blockchains and networks through a multichain protocol using what it calls “parachains,” which allow other blockchains to connect as sidechains.
The Ethereum network has often been criticized as struggling with scalability and speed issues which its community believes will be completely ironed out once ETH 2.0 is complete. However, Polkadot’s protocol is getting attention as it currently has the capacity to handle thousands of transactions per second, which has pitted it squarely against Ethereum in the eyes of some commentators. Polkadot’s token DOT has seen incredible growth this year of 99.85% and is currently trading at $18.37.
Can They Kill Ethereum?
Decentralized finance and Dapps are the markets that Ethereum and other smart-contract blockchains are targeting. In its current state, the DeFi space is intrinsically linked with Ethereum, with vast majority of the biggest DeFi protocols running on its blockchain.
For now, it appears unlikely Ethereum will be dethroned in the short-term. Ethereum has a very firm and clear first mover advantage over its competitors. It not only has the highest dominance in terms of the network value but also outdoes the competition in several key factors.
In a nutshell, these factors are—the number of active users; the ERC-20 (Ethereum) token being the most adopted standard for newly issued crypto assets; third party adoption for service and infrastructure; and overall network security.
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