Previously, we analyzed some of the high market capitalization smart contract blockchains that could overtake Ethereum as the king of the smart contract platforms. Today, we are going to continue this discussion and analysis by looking at some smart contract platforms in the 40–100 range in terms of market capitalization.
There is an important reason to discuss the different smart contract platforms in terms of both technology and market capitalization. No matter how good a smart contract blockchain’s technology is, if it has no users then it is completely worthless. By looking at the market capitalization of each project, it is easier to determine which projects investors and developers are excited about, and thus these cryptocurrencies are more likely to stand a chance of overtaking Ethereum. Today, the smart contract platforms we will be discussing are medium-cap coins. If they grow to reach the size of Ethereum, then investors could see 100x returns, but there is more risk involved and they may never grow to that size.
Tezos is an interesting project in the smart contract space whose unique feature is their governance system. In blockchains like Ethereum and Bitcoin, a hard fork can occur, which is what happens when miners disagree about something, like the validity of a certain transaction or the rules of the protocol. This is what happened in 2017 when Bitcoin Cash split off from Bitcoin. Tezos has a governance system built-into the protocol itself, which prevents the hard forks while also giving each XTZ holder a say in how the protocol will evolve over time. The flexibility and upgradability of Tezos gives it the opportunity to continuously evolve and adapt to any new technologies, thus making it safe from any sort of obsolescence.
Recently, the main focus of Tezos has been their NFTs, which are more environmentally friendly than those on Ethereum due to Tezos being proof of stake instead of proof of work.
There are around 100 decentralized applications building on Tezos, and they have partnerships with Redbull, Ubisoft, and others. Much like any smart contract platform, their main concern is onboarding more users and developers.
Stacks is a blockchain that is bringing smart contracts to the Bitcoin blockchain. This allows for smart contracts to be created that inherit the security, capital, and network effects of Bitcoin. Their native token, STX, is used to help secure the network, in a consensus model known as proof of transfer. Basically, the Stacks blockchain is where the storage of smart contracts and their transactions takes place, and the Bitcoin blockchain is where transactions are finalized. This means that Stacks is not bottlenecked by Bitcoin’s low number of transactions per second, and could theoretically scale to thousands of transactions per second, all while having the security guarantees of Bitcoin.
The STX token was sold in a regulated sale that was approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, meaning it is classified as a security. This has made U.S. exchanges wary of listing the coin, and it has not had a huge presence in the United States.
The idea of Bitcoin being the main blockchain for both store of value and smart contracts is enticing, especially for Bitcoin maximalists.
NEAR Protocol is a blockchain focused on creating an easy user and developer experience. In order to achieve high transaction throughput, NEAR uses a technology known as sharding. In a sharding system, different validators process different transactions, and work in parallel to confirm multiple transactions at once. This is different from Ethereum, where every validator is focusing on validating the same transaction in a linear fashion.
One of the features NEAR has implemented to make it more user friendly is human-readable addresses, instead of the long strings of letters and numbers used on other blockchains. They also allow for users to interact with the blockchain without having a wallet, which makes it ideal for users who are used to creating a Google account, but would have no idea about how to create a MetaMask account.
NEAR has flown under the radar of most cryptocurrency investors due to their dedication to development rather than marketing.
Flow is a smart contact platform created by the team behind CryptoKitties, the original NFT project from 2018. After their dApp congested the Ethereum network and brought fees to never-before-seen highs, the CryptoKitties team knew they needed to find a better solution that would offer low fees and high transaction times. As a result, they created Flow, which promises to solve these issues by using a consensus model that has different validators focus on different parts of consensus. For example, high-powered computers do the intensive execution work, while weaker nodes can validate transactions.
Flow’s biggest strength is their partnerships and user interface. They are the blockchain that NBA Top Shot, one of the biggest NFT marketplaces, is based on. NBA Top Shot has debit card integration so users do not need to buy Flow before using the blockchain. They also have partnerships with the UFC, Warner Music Group, and Ubisoft, all of which are planning to release NFTs on the Flow blockchain. With these big name brands, Flow is bringing mainstream users to the blockchain space, which is why it could shoot up in the rankings and become one of the top smart contract and NFT platforms.
Harmony is the 83rd largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, but its technology makes it worthy of a spot in the top 50. Harmony was the first blockchain to implement sharding technology, which allows for high scalability and upgradability. With four shards, the Harmony blockchain can process over 2,000 transactions per second. The team’s goal is to have 2,000 shards, which would give an estimated 1 million transactions per second.
Though all of these blockchains have great technology and development teams, all of them but Flow currently lack users. They all have a small number of decentralized applications, but are actively incentivizing developers to build on their platforms. Though it is far from a guarantee, if any of these blockchains catch the eye of the general public, holders of that blockchain’s coin will see massive gains.
It remains to be seen if any coin covered will be a true Ethereum killer. However, these are some of the most promising picks of the cryptocurrency space, and whether or not they become the biggest smart contract platform, their technology is sure to be adopted and improved upon by the next generation of blockchain platforms.
By Lincoln Murr