While cryptocurrencies have opened the way to a more secure and reliable means of buying and selling products/services, smart contracts have the potential to revive most if not all of our digital activities. From paying simple rents to protecting copyright, recording financial data, safely exercising inheritance rights, you name it. The uses are near endless.
So what are smart contracts?
A smart contract is a digital protocol that is used to facilitate the exchange of data, money, property or anything imaginable that requires an agreement between two or more entities. There’s no need for a third party because the contract is designed to self-execute once desired conditions are met.
The potential value and the amount of excitement surrounding smart contracts have given birth to a variety of smart contract platforms. Yes, bitcoin also has its own smart contract platform but it’s primarily considered as a peer to peer payment network. Below are some interesting platforms featuring smart contracts.
Ethereum is currently the king of all smart contract platforms and the top choice for most developers. Launched in July 2015, the platform has grown swiftly and facilitates smart contracts for the works of online games, ICOs, Insurance policy etc. These smart contracts are executed with the help of the ethereum virtual machine. (EVM)
The ethereum smart contract platform attracts many people because of its outstanding support. Plus, it has a well-defined set of rules to follow, making it less risky and more developer friendly.
- Ethereum token standard ( ERC 20)
- Has its own smart contract programing language called Solidity.
- No setup fee required.
- Top grade developer community.
- Clear developer guidelines to follow.
Having positioned itself as the go-to smart contract platform for building dapps, it is often overloaded. Plus, it’s also the most expensive of all the smart contract platforms in the industry.
Neo was first launched in 2014 as Antshares and later rebranded to Neo in July 2017. Based in China, it’s commonly referred to as China’s ethereum. The platform outperforms ethereum in terms of transactions speed ( up to 10,000transactions per second compared to ethereum’s 15 transactions/second ) Plus, it supports a variety of programming languages via the NeoVM (Neo Virtual Machine) like Java, Python, Kotlin etc.
- Neps communication standard.
- A cross chain protocol (NeoX) that enables Neo tokens to communicate with other tokens on other networks.
- A decentralized file sharing service known as NeoFS – based on an interplanetary File system.
- A variety of programming languages.
- A Lattice-based cryptographic mechanism that creates unsolvable problems by quantum computers.
The Nem platform was launched in March 2015. It has attracted many developers because it uses Java as its programming language. This means developers don’t have to bother about learning a platform specific programming language like solidity
Because Java is well developed, it has fewer security vulnerabilities as compared to newer programming languages.
But one of the best things about Nem is its ability to scale. Its processing speed revolves around 100 transactions per second as compared to ethereum which can only manage 15 transactions per second. It would be no surprise to see developers jumping from other smart contract platforms to Nem.
- Has the potential to scale.
- Uses Java as a programming language.
- No need to learn a platform-specific programming language.
Despite these advantages, the Nem platform still has a smaller developer community.
Waves was launched back in June 2016. Just like ethereum, it is an excellent platform for ICOs. It has also positioned itself as a platform that facilitates token operations and is designed in a way that even people with little to no knowledge in programming or smart contracts can create their own tokens within minutes.
- Suitable for ICO.
- -Does not require any programming knowledge to create own tokens.
Waves simplicity comes with lack of flexibility. Thus, it has very limited use cases and as such has a corresponding small user base compared to ethereum.
- Has a variety of programming languages.
- There’s access for plug-in components.
- Free to use.
- It is open source and has a permissioned membership ( meaning the identities of all network participants are known).
With all these appealing features, Hyperledger Fabric still lacks its own token system. Meaning it’s not idle for companies looking to develop smart contracts that require some form of payment transfer – like in the case of initial coin offerings (ICOs).
EOS is another interesting smart contract platform that uses deligated proof of stake (DPoS) consensus. This DPoS, together with other scaling techniques such as parallel execution and partial evaluation, enable the platform to carry out up to 6000 transactions per second. (400 times faster than ethereum).
EOS promises a zero fee transaction system based on the idea that users will be incentivized by service providers. This model provides the platform with a major advantage over its competitors like ethereum and ethereum classic.
Unlike ethereum where governance is distributed over miners, developers, and users, EOS uses a different mechanism. That is, 21 members have to be elected by the community to serve as block producers and also perform other governance affairs.
- Parallel processing which leads to faster transaction speeds.
- A decentralized operating system.
- Community constitution.
7. Ethereum classic. (ETC)
Ethereum classic is the pioneer ethereum blockchain. Even though it separated from today’s ethereum (at block 1920000), it still carries most of the features and technicalities of ethereum. The main difference between these two smart contract platforms is philosophical. Supporters of ethereum classic are stern believers in blockchains immutability and fungibility.
This means that while ethereum will soon be switching to a proof of stake algorithm and may be forked again in the future, ethereum classic sees no need for such changes. The ETC team wants to deter human influence on the network by all means possible.
These are just a few of the smart contract platforms in the industry. For a detailed list, check out this article on freestartupkits.com