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Ethereum vs Cardano: The Smart Contract Platform Showdown

NOTE: At the end of the article, we have a GetSmart Quiz for you. If you correctly answer all the questions, you will receive (1) entry to win $4,000 CAD of Bitcoin! Draw will be Sept. 30th 2021.

In Brief 

  • Both Ethereum and Cardano are leading smart contract platforms.
  • Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson went on to make Cardano.
  • Ethereum uses proof-of-work and will eventually move onto proof-of-stake.
  • Cardano uses Ouroboros for maintaining consensus.
  • Ethereum uses Solidity for coding its smart contracts, while Cardano uses Plutus.

Introduction 

Ethereum and Cardano are among the most popular and recognizable platforms in the cryptocurrency space. Investors and developers are drawn to them for different reasons, one for financial reasons and the other for technical reasons. If you are an investor, you want to know which of the two has more volume, while a developer would be more interested in the technical side of the two platforms. 

Both Cardano and Ethereum have seen steady growth over the years, with Ethereum cementing itself as the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, while Cardano is currently the 6th largest. Additionally, both Ethereum and Cardano have consistently outperformed Bitcoin this year, with Ethereum hitting its all-time high of $5,290.82 CAD on 12th May. 2021 and Cardano reached its all-time high of $2.27 CAD on 13th May 2021. 

The steady growth that they have both experienced is thanks to the technology behind them and the constant improvements and innovations on the platform. 

Let us briefly compare the two platforms. 

Ethereum vs Cardano: The Founders 

Vitalik Buterin released the Ethereum whitepaper in 2015 and introduced the world to Ethereum. As a result, Ethereum became the first blockchain to allow its users to create smart contracts, allowing the platform to do more than just process transactions. 

Charles Hoskinson founded Cardano. Hoskinson has also worked at Ethereum after receiving a draft of the Ethereum whitepaper. However, after working at Ethereum for a while, Both Buterin and Hoskinson decided to go their separate ways. 

There was considerable speculation why they went their separate ways. Still, the differences mainly boiled down to a difference of opinion – Buterin wanted to avoid funding from venture capitalists, while Hoskinson believed in the opposite. 

After leaving Ethereum, Hoskinson partnered with Jeremy Wood, a co-founder of Ethereum, and founded IOHK, the main company behind Cardano. 

What Is Ethereum? 

As mentioned earlier, Ethereum was created in 2015 by Vitalik Buterin. It is a decentralized and fully autonomous platform that is run by thousands of volunteers around the world. 

Ethereum is also the blockchain that introduced smart contracts to the world while also enabling developers to create and launch decentralized applications. This has helped Ethereum to become the go-to platform for DeFi, with almost all projects running on its blockchain. Plus, Ethereum has also built an enviable NFT ecosystem which has taken the world by storm this year.

Now, with the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade around the corner, the premier smart contract platform will be looking to improve its speed, efficiency, and scalability significantly.

What Is Cardano? 

Cardano was launched in 2017 by Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson to create a highly scalable and energy-efficient smart contract platform. The platform’s native cryptocurrency is called ADA and can carry out transactions, receive or send funds. 

Cardano is well-known in the community for its research-first approach. All protocols of the Cardano blockchain are reviewed by scientists and academics from prestigious institutions such as the University of Edinburgh and the Tokyo Institute of Technology.  

The upcoming Alonzo hard fork will finally introduce smart contracts to the Cardano ecosystem, which will increase developer activity and utility significantly.

Ethereum vs Cardano: Critical Differences

Both Ethereum and Cardano are focused on the development of dApps and smart contracts. Although they both share the same goals, there are significant differences between the two blockchains. 

#1 Programming Language 

Ethereum primarily uses solidity as its smart contract language. Solidity has been purposefully designed to be as similar to JavaScript as possible to reduce the learning curve for new developers. Since JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages, it makes sense why it is simple for newbies to pick Solidity up with ease.   

Cardano, on the other hand, uses Plutus for its smart contract computation. Plutus is derived from Haskell and is a functional programming language. As opposed to the more commonly used imperative language, a functional language combines coding with advanced mathematics.

Now, this is a double-edged sword.

Utilizing the functional approach allows you to mathematically prove to an extremely high degree of accuracy if a code has any flaws or not (aka formal verification). However, the learning curve of these languages are extremely high, even for seasoned programmers.

#2 Consensus Mechanism 

Now, let’s look at consensus mechanisms. Ethereum currently uses proof-of-work (PoW) – like Bitcoin – but the Ethereum 2.0 update will shift it from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake via the Casper protocol. Casper helps build a trustless environment, by punishing validators (aka block producers) for not acting in the system’s interest. Before Ethereum shifts entirely to PoS and implements Casper, it will temporarily implement a hybrid PoW-PoS mechanism.  

Cardano, on the other hand, uses a specialized proof-of-stake consensus algorithm called Ouroboros. It improves on the traditional Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism by introducing slot leaders and epochs. Each epoch is split into 20-second slots, and a randomly selected slot leader validates a block within that slot.

Ethereum vs Cardano: Overview

Ethereum  Cardano 
Creator  Vitalik Buterin and Ethereum Foundation Charles Hoskinson and IOHK
Token ETH ADA
Consensus mechanism  PoW now.  PoS after the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade PoS Ouroboros 
Transactions per second  15-25 transactions per second ~250 transactions per second
Block time 10-20 seconds <20 seconds
Smart contract language Solidity Plutus


To Summarize

Ethereum has performed brilliantly since its launch and is now the second-largest cryptocurrency in the world. In addition, developers of decentralized applications (dApps) also prefer the Ethereum blockchain to create and deploy their applications. On the other hand, Cardano was released in 2017, but it is still relatively untested when it comes to real-world applications. However, this could soon change, as seen by their collaboration with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education for tracking student performance.

Where Do I Buy BTC and ETH?

If you are interested in Ethereum and Cardano you can buy the tokens via CoinSmart. Buy cryptocurrencies with ease via CAD, EUR, and USD.

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