In July 2015, a group of blockchain developers led by Vitalik Buterin launched Ethereum, the first-ever blockchain that supported smart contracts and decentralized applications. With its first-mover advantage, Ethereum quickly established itself as the leading platform for smart contracts and dApps, with a total value locked (TVL) of nearly $30 billion. Along with establishing itself as the go-to platform for smart contracts and decentralized applications, Ethereum also became the second-largest cryptocurrency in the ecosystem after Bitcoin.
This obviously drew several comparisons between the two as investment assets. However, people need to remember that Bitcoin and Ethereum were created for entirely different purposes. If there is a rivalry to look at, it is the one between Ethereum and the “Ethereum Killers,” projects created to improve on Ethereum’s technology and offer better scalability, lower fees, and faster transactions. In this article, we will look closer at the top Ethereum killers in the market and if they could surpass Ethereum.
Ethereum vs Ethereum Killers
Ethereum currently has a market cap of over $190 billion and has recently completed what is probably the most critical upgrade since its inception, switching from the power-hungry Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism to the Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism. The switch, dubbed “The Merge,” promises better transaction speeds, lower fees, and significantly higher scalability. However, while Ethereum struggled with problems, the so-called Ethereum killers began gathering steam and carved a niche in the smart contract, DeFi, and NFT space.
These protocols claim to have significantly improved Ethereum’s original technology, using faster and more sustainable methods to offer users better scalability, lower transaction costs, and higher speeds. With the influx of several projects in the smart contract and DeFi ecosystem, it remains to be seen if Ethereum can hold on to its first-mover advantage or if the newer projects could surpass it.
Top 5 Ethereum Killers
Solana was created during the height of the ICO boom of 2017 by Anatoly Yakovenko and Greg Fitzgerald. The protocol looked to leverage several new technologies to power the next generation of DeFi applications by significantly scaling throughput far beyond what current blockchain protocols can achieve. Solana uses an innovative hybrid consensus mechanism, combining Proof-of-History with the underlying Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism offered by the blockchain. This allows the platform theoretically to process 50,000 transactions per second, all without the need for any scaling solution.
No surprise then that the protocol has attracted the attention of several institutions, including the Bank of America, JPMorgan, and Andreessen Horowitz. Solana has been popular since its inception, with more and more protocols and projects being built on the platform. It is often seen as the most serious challenger to Ethereum’s dominance. However, the platform does face several issues, such as frequent outages that have been a major hindrance in its adoption. Furthermore, the significant institutional interest in the protocol has also raised a few eyebrows. Currently, Solana has $248 million in Total Value Locked, according to DeFiLlama.
Cardano offers a much more environmentally sustainable alternative to Ethereum and almost the same functionalities. Cardano’s stated goal is to allow “changemakers, innovators, and visionaries” to bring about positive change and create a more transparent, secure, and fair society. While Bitcoin and Ethereum are often referred to as first or second-generation blockchains, Cardano calls itself a third-generation blockchain that looks to address the shortcomings of previous-generation blockchains. Cardano’s creators felt that Ethereum, and the projects on it, faced significant issues regarding scalability and interoperability and that these could only be addressed by creating a new platform.
The Cardano protocol was founded in 2017 by Charles Hoskinson and got its name from the Italian Polymath Gerolamo Cardano. The protocol’s native token, ADA, derives its name from 19th-century mathematician Ada Lovelace and allows holders to participate in the governance of the network, allowing them to have a greater say in any proposed changes to the protocol or software. In 2021, the team at Cardano introduced the Alonzo fork, finally bringing smart contract functionality to the protocol. As a result, the platform saw a surge in developer activity. It became the top-ranking smart contract platform when it came to developer activity in 2021, ahead of Solana and Ethereum.
The Fantom ecosystem saw tremendous growth in 2022. Most of this growth was driven by contributions from Andre Cronje, who created several protocols on Fantom’s technology stack projects. Fantom uses a variant of the Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism, called DAG or Directed Acyclic Graph, to provide smart contract services to users and developers. While the system does feature a few qualities of a distributed ledger, it isn’t what you would call a traditional blockchain. The protocol offers a cheaper, faster, and more scalable data processing and transaction solution. It is also energy-efficient, ensuring long-term sustainability.
Fantom was created as an alternative to Ethereum and looked to overcome its limitations by offering a sustainable balance between scalability, decentralization, and security. Additionally, it also gives developers access to tools that can simplify the integration of dApps, and a staking reward system. Fantom is built on the Lachesis Protocol and Opera. The former is the protocol’s core consensus layer, helps secure the network, and features three core qualities: Byzantine fault-tolerant, Leaderless, and asynchronous. Meanwhile, Opera, Fantom’s mainnet deployment platform, hosts decentralized applications.
Tezos, like Ethereum, is a platform that enables the creation of smart contracts and decentralized applications. However, the key difference between the two is that it offers significantly advanced infrastructure compared to Ethereum. The USP of Tezos is that the protocol can upgrade itself without requiring a hard fork. This is particularly important because a fork could divide the community, change incentives, and disrupt the network. Thanks to self-amendment, any execution costs are mitigated, and any future upgrades and innovations can be seamlessly implemented.
The Tezos protocol bills itself as a secure, upgradeable, and built-to-last protocol and claims that its smart contracts provide the requisite accuracy for high-value use cases. Since its inception, several notable protocols have been launched on Tezos. These span several areas, such as music, gaming, art, and fashion.
Avalanche can be described as an open-source, decentralized blockchain protocol that aims to reduce transaction latency and increase speeds for the financial ecosystem. The protocol leverages a highly innovative consensus mechanism and a Proof-of-Stake protocol to create a highly secure and scalable environment to facilitate asset exchange seamlessly. As a result, users can trade tokens quickly, securely, and at significantly lesser costs than traditional avenues. Users can also deploy their assets through generic smart contracts offered by Avalanche. As a result, the protocol has seen an influx of several independent DeFi applications to the protocol.
Thanks to its innovative consensus mechanism, the protocol is able to achieve transactional finality within two seconds. This is a considerable improvement compared to Ethereum. Additionally, Avalanche has also seen significant interest from major finance and fintech companies such as Mastercard, Deloitte, and others, who collaborated with the protocol to develop new projects, products, and solutions. Avalanche is also compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine, which means the protocol can support smart contracts created for Ethereum without implementing any significant code changes.
Top 5 Ethereum Killers: In Closing
Ethereum currently holds the numero regarding smart contracts, decentralized applications, and decentralized finance. However, it is abundantly clear that the protocol faces significant competition from these “Ethereum Killers” slowly eating away at its market share. As demand for new protocols and decentralized applications builds, developers will look for the right infrastructure to begin building the future of Web3.
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