Sure we are aware of the leading smart contract platforms, if not check them out here, and we are aware of the fact that new ones are being released unceasingly. If you are looking for an investment opportunity in the Blockchain realm or are interested in launching your dApp on a suitable latest platform, this read is going to satiate all your needs.
Before we dive in:
The huge success of ICOs in 2017 resulted in the 2018 pike the blockchain industry saw. At the end of 2018, the blockchain market was valued around $1.5 Billion. As the ICOs were able to raise millions in a matter of a few hours blockchain drew attention and as a result, capital started to flow in from all directions into this market. Although at that point the only use cases prevailing were related to the finance industry. Through the years 2018-2020 blockchain saw considerable increases in capital inflow and adoption at the micro level in the form of presence in portfolios of individuals. Along with that, the CXOs of multinational organizations had started to discuss the crypto stuff.
Then came the COVID-19 blow, which the global economy tried to handle gracefully but failed massively. The crypto market too experienced cold shoulders and hastily declining fiat inflow. Attributing to its high volatility, the crypto market assumed it to be another bearish phase. Though, this is when one and all were looking for digitization of processes and products to propel businesses and hence the blockchain industry got the opportunity it had been waiting for, for a decade.
Till 2020, little exploration beyond financial use cases had been done in the blockchain space. But, this time each industry including health, insurance, supply chain, food, and entertainment was looking for ways to digitally maintain its status and presence among the consumers. Blockchain offered immutability and provenance that was the final nail against the previously existing flawed systems. Executable codes called Smart Contracts also found themselves applicable for all kinds of digital transactions as the digital asset space expanded into the realms of identity, asset tokenization, and tracking.
The research and effort that had been fuelled by the 2018 spike and continued throughout the pandemic era, reached a point where big players were ready to dive into the blockchain industry while the institutions, as well as individuals, had been looking for ways to participate in this disruptive mode of data storage and transaction management. As a result, the post covid years saw crypto go beyond the expected trajectory through their highs and lows influenced by multiple factors in the global market, while NFTs kept their upward movement strong. Throughout this, the platforms enabling borderless, trustless, and highly secure transactions have remained constantly in demand. The increasing number of DeFi and NFT applications and their corresponding utilities have kept on increasing steadily making numerous Smart Contract Platforms germinate on the crypto-ground.
A few common issues these intend to solve are scalability, global interoperability, and impenetrable security. All around the world researchers and technology experts are proposing solutions to accommodate user requirements while trying to get out of the blockchain trilemma.
Here’s a list (in no specific order) of the top smart contract platforms that have been able to get traction within months of their launch and stand against the ever-increasing competition in the business. These have been chosen based on the vision and the architecture backing them. The list in no way is exhaustive or final as this space is expanding so fast that one cannot predict what might give it a new direction.
|Platform Name||Launched||Smart Contract Deployment||Market Cap (Million $)||What impressed us?|
|Chia||March 2021||Native platform analogous to EVM called CLLVM – ChaiLisp Virtual Machine to deploy the smart contracts written in ChiaLisp, the programming language of the platform.||178||1. Unique in vain sustainability as a primary goal2. Focus on a unified financial system globally|
|Stacks||January 2021||Clarity – interpreted, decidability, no reentrancy|
Gaia Hub – cloud storage mechanism that allows Stacks smart contracts to be deployed on Stack
|492||1. Enables Bitcoin for web3.0 services|
|Casper||March 2021||Rust and WASM languages are used to program the smart contracts, the blockchain is optimized for enterprise adoption to deploy dApps||161||1. Associating with multiple experts to enhance its platform|
|Juno||October 2021||CosmWasm runs Web Assembly (Wasm) bytecode, with very mature bindings to develop in the Rust programming language.||156.4||1. Vision to seamlessly offload smart contract deployment to a dedicated permissionless network out of the Cosmos mainnet|
|Radix||November 2021||Scrypto – Asset-oriented Programming and deploys them on Radix Engine – v2||6.2||1. Razor sharp focus – DeFi2.A complete stack for DeFi apps3. Vastly experienced team|
|Moonriver||June 2021||Solidity – makes it fully Ethereum Compatible. Other languages include Rust, Ink!,|
It uses Contracts Pallet a Frames library for WASM-based networks
|58.58||1. Low costs and entry barrier2. 100% EVM compatibility|
|MoonBeam||January 2022||Compatible with Rust, Solidity, Vyper, Fe, Yu it offers very high flexibility in terms of dApps development and hence can be deployed through scaffold-ETH, OpenZeppline, Waffle & Mars, HardHat||196||1. Solves the real problem of cross-chain compatibility2. A canary network has already been live and has performed spectacularly|
|Oasis Paratimes||February 2021||Oasis has 3 primary paratimes – emerald (EVM compatible), cipher (confidential ), and yet to be rolled out – parcel (privacy – first) which all can be used to run smart contracts in Rust||3.36||1. Splitting up of consensus and Execution Layers2. Parallel and entirely decentralized transaction processing|
|Songbird||July 2021||Songbird enables the use of Remix, an Ethereum-based Web IDE to deploy smart contracts||218||1. Thought through and planned in stages|
|Milkomeda||April 2022||A multi-VM approach to provide cross-chain compatible smart contract execution through wrapped environments to support smart contract deployment on multiple L1 blockchains||N/A||1. Solving the most prominent concern of multi- chain-interoperability for existing dApps and other tools and instruments|
Chia is a blockchain built to make available a “better” blockchain for real use in terms of security, sustainability, and compliance. Opted by the World Bank, as the data backend to accumulate carbon data regarding registry and track changes in the same. Chia has also introduced a more functional NFT standard to address the needs of artists, called NFT-1. With a vision to evolve into a global financial system that is accessible, scalable, and sustainable their goal is to deliver the quality that the “Internet of Markets” advertises to offer through blockchain and cryptocurrency. Chia intends to disrupt the concept of trust through smart transactions i.e. have a transformational impact through the programmable economy. Chia is the first one to use the new Nakamoto consensus since bitcoin, which it uses in conjunction with POST (Proof of space and time).
Sept 2017: Pre-seed Funding
March 2018: Series A Funding
July 2018: Series B Funding
June 2019: Proof of space, the consensus mechanism paper released
April 2020: Beta release
August 2020: Series C Funding
March 2021: Limited Mainnet Launch
May 2021: Series D funding
July 2021: Pooling Launched
November 2021: Chia Award and World Bank First Transaction
Stacks is an L2 smart contract platform built on top of the very first phenomena in the blockchain history- Bitcoin. Stacks claims to deliver web 3.0 services of smart contract, DeFi, NFT, and everything else available on Ethereum, and Bitcoin. Leveraging the security and trust from bitcoin and adding a layer to include it into the web 3.0 developments is quite a risky move. Yet, Stacks is being adopted at a much larger scale than its counterparts due to the level of security and trust Bitcoin enjoys. This can be seen by the fact that it already has a dozen popular apps. It offers newer ways to earn Bitcoins and thus enter the Bitcoin economy (and the crypto economy ) with a strong portfolio. It follows Proof of transfer consensus which has not been tested a lot before but is going through rigorous examination as Stacks strengthens its position in the market. A few dApps running on Stacks are Alex, Arkadiko, Diko, and many more.
Q4 2018: Genesis block’s private launch
Q4 2018: Stacks Wallet launch
Q2 2019: Whitepaper launch
Q2 2019: Clarity, the programming language on the platform launched
Q3 2019: $23 million raised in token offering
Q1 2020: Proof of Transerf mining for Web 3.0
Q2 2020: Stacks testnet launch
Q2 2021: Stacks Accelerator added to the network
Q3 2021: Appraisals for the smart contract language clarity from the auditors for bitcoin builders
Q4 2021: Stacks 2.05 upgrade to launch the main net
Casper uses the real-time Proof of Stake chain governance which is based on CBC specifications authored by their in-house team. The mission of the team is to promote and enable the adoption of blockchain technology globally the platform is built in a manner to aid continuous upgradation as per changing needs of the user and developments in blockchain technology. It supports Turing-complete smart contracts on WASM and uses Highway protocol to maintain the network. Which helps in increasing the block threshold for adding finalized blocks to the chain. This is a hybrid enterprise-grade public blockchain. CasperLab’s blockchain is uniquely interoperable with most other enterprise blockchains which is why they have been collaborating with multiple giants to leverage HLTCs ( Hashed Time Locked Contracts) to develop transaction flows that are seamlessly interoperable. CasperSign is the first digital signature dApp on the Casper chain to enable signing documents anonymously and securely. However, Casper’s association recently with IBM and PurFi does suggest big things coming up in near future. Caspiler is a tool that enables dApps to be directly deployed on the network from Ethereum.
March 2019: Node 0.1 release – Casper consensus and in-memory DAG
July 2019: Node 0.5 – Devnet launch enabling staking and private net access
August 2019: Node 0.6 – introduction of transaction fees, block commutativity, and account reverie
October 2019: Highway consensus whitepaper
March 2020: Node 0.12 Alpha testnet called The Zug500 launched
March 2021: Mainnet launch
Juno is a community-driven layer 1 smart contract platform in the cosmos ecosystem. The cosmos ecosystem enables anyone to launch their own blockchain and validator set and leverage IPC the interoperability standard for blockchain interoperability to create cross-chain smart contracts. Though Juno supports multiple programming languages, since its genesis, yet, most smart contracts are written in Rust and IBC thus making Juno the first to have successfully implemented CosmWasm to provide a platform for launching multi-chain operable dApps, which are permissionless and decentralized. Most prominent dApps running on Juno include JunoSwap DEX, Cosmverse, Chain Monitor, and CW20 transfer all spanning a wide range of blockchain applications.
Aug 2021: Juno Hack – a hackathon to distribute 1.1 million tokens
Oct 2021: Mainnet Launch
Radix is the first platform developed with a single goal in mind- providing blockchain-based infrastructure enabling DeFi to become mainstream. It uses its proprietary programming language Scrypto which as per claims simplifies asset-centric programming and thus reduces development time. It also claims to maintain atomic-cross shard DeFi composability while providing linear scalability through its unique Cereberus consensus. Developing smart contracts on Radix does have a learning curve due to its exclusive programming language, which is compensated for through its DeFi-focussed infrastructure that expedites dApp development making it intuitive and secure. Developed through lots of research and trial on multiple protocols by the brains behind it, Radix is a promising platform for dApps or as the team calls them- “Smart Money Apps”.
July 2021: Olympia – Genesis block for the public network
Dec 2021: Alexandria- Tools to develop dApps on the platform
Moonriver is a smart contract parachain on the Kusama network. Proposed more like a testnet than a “real” network, providing actual cryptonomics for developers to deploy and test their apps. Polkadot being the ultimate relay chain, Kusama falls under its umbrella. Having been released earlier and having been dubbed as just a canary network, Kusama and hence Moornriver gained towering traction and fiat inflow on top of it being ERC-20 compatible and a mere copy & paste based transfer to EVM, it was a huge test platform with low prices and almost non-existent entry barrier. Though, initially, the goal was to move the moonriver to the moonbeam, post the Polkadot launch. The complete movement never happened and quite many dApps continue to be running on Moonriver itself, though it cant be concluded whether the dApps are under test phase yet or it has been a conscious decision to keep costs and transition dynamics under control. Hence it has become a permanently incentivized canary network.
June 2021: Initial Launch on winning an auction on Kasuma
August 2021: Full launch – completely functional launch with EVM compatible smart contract support
Moonbeam is the star of the Polkadot network of parachains. It is a parachain on the network focusing on dApps development compatible with EVM and other blockchains. After its successful bootstrapping phase, moonbeam has entered its next phase called Harvest Moon, which can be literally translated to harvest the benefits of what has been sowed – the tools and infrastructure for all kinds of multi-chain applications. The goal is to attract developers to build multi-chain applications that enjoy inter-chain compatibility without any obligation to the native chain. Polkadot is a relay chain network essentially built to provide bridges among the various scattered and disconnected chains functioning in isolation from each other. The primary goal is connecting Ethereum, the home to the largest number of DeFi and other smart contract-based applications.
Oasis is quite interesting with its unique way of decentralizing transaction processing by separating the consensus layer from the processing (Paratime) layer. As Paratimes can independently be EVM compatible, Confidential, or Enterprise they provide a mechanism for anyone to build their dApps with improved TPS more efficiently than done through sharding, sidechaining, or parachaining. Oasis has introduced a new concept of Tokenized data by combining blockchain with confidential computing as well as high scalability through its parallel smart contract layer technology. A future of lending privately, undercollateralized loans, and private amms is awaited through Oasis’s unique technical architecture.
Oasis is presently supporting dApps from multiple application domains like WePiggy (Asset lending market), LaunchGarden (Launchpad), Rosart (women-only art platform), cBridge (multi-chain wallet), and many more across finance, health, and real estate domains.
November 2019: Public testnet launch
January 2020: Quest Incentivised Testnet
June 2020: Amber network launch
October 2020: Mainnet beta launch
Feb 2021: Mainnet launch
Songbird is another canary network that has made to the list. It has been launched to test and iron out the possible kinks in the upcoming blockchain Flare- whose launch date is yet to be finalized. It has been launched to test FTSO (Flare Time Series Oracle), the F-Asset, and the network architecture in real scenarios. Its goal is to test applications that will launch on Flare and secondly to make FLR, the native token a commonplace among enthusiasts. Notably, it was first launched for EVM-compatible dApps only and at a later stage tested out Flare-specific architectures to obtain cross-chain interoperability in a fully decentralized manner. Despite the launch of Flare this is going to continue as a sidechain for Flare and enable testing of dApps for the full-fledged Flare network while serving as an EVM-compatible Flare alternative. State Connector, the interoperability protocol is already live and active to help L1 chain dApps operate on Flare through a direct smart contract request-Service paradigm. Multi-sig bridges and light client relay. Sparkles the first climate-positive nft marketplace is live and thriving on the network already.
Milkomeda is planning to launch as a sidechain to aid interoperability among various L1 blockchains. The Nomad protocol is developed keeping in mind the tedious process of migrating any project across L1 blockchains, which is launched on Cardano. wADA which is short for wrapped ADA – works like a plugin to help migrate dApps from EVM (Ethereum being the most popular choice of dApps to date). On top of it, the project Milkomeda C1 is kept public and open source to enable inputs and suggestions regarding challenges in transition and/ or integration to come to light while the protocol is being leveraged to enable migration of dApps and assets directly from 1 L1 chain to another. OccamX is one of the first projects trying to attract liquidity from L2 -eth towards Milkomeda. The success or failure though unpredictable as of now, the idea is intriguing indeed. As Milkomeda is aimed at forming a bridge between an existing multitude of blockchains it supports the technology stack followed by EVM (Solidity), IELE, NEAR VM, Facebook’s Move VM, Hyperledger Fabric, Solana VM, Flow/Cadence, Quorum, WASM, among others. What we are hoping for is a gigantic sidechain network that facilitates seamless movement of assets, funds, dApps, financial instruments, and basically everything across the blockchain space as smoothly as gliding over a slide.
Q3 2021: Private Alpha testnet
Q4 2021: Private MVP testnet
Q4 2021: Private beta mainnet
Q4 2021: Limited beta main-net
Q4 2021: Public beta mainnet
Q1/Q2 2022: Interoperability and public integrations (still ongoing)
The pain points almost every smart contract platform is trying to address are scalability and cross-chain compatibility. Although time will tell which one survives the rough competition, we are sure smart contract platforms too are going to continuously evolve to provide self-updating smart contract support, and greener solutions to this unprecedented space of technology, and certainly the metaverse phenomenon is going to make space for a universally mobile system of assets and transactions to enable a unified operational blockchain ecosystem. The challenge remains to accommodate the now-previous generation chains while keeping up with the future of blockchain.
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