The inception of Ethereum has transformed the way people use cryptocurrencies. Instead of encouraging them to hoard their cryptocurrency as a store of value, it is now fueling a market not seen since the Dot-Com boom.
Smart contracts, in particular, have changed the way people make transactions. By eliminating the need to have an escrow or any other third party, the first party can release funds when the second fulfills contractual obligations. It also allows for contracts with such dynamic complexities that entire businesses can run off of the Ethereum network.
Of course, Ethereum is not perfect, and its network is getting quite sluggish. That is why so many coins are using the model developed by the project and making improvements that surpass its capabilities.
Here are some altcoins that could overtake Ethereum soon:
Although it has a lighter footprint on the crypto market, NEO aims to achieve the same functionality as Ethereum. Much like Buterin’s creation, it is the Swiss-army knife of cryptocurrencies, centered around creating smart contracts and decentralized applications.
The blockchain of NEO has been even more future-proofed than other leading cryptocurrencies with the ability to process 10,000 transactions per minute. Ethereum may only process 15 transactions per minute and is being worn down by too many ERC-20 tokens and Crypto Kitties. The price of processing transactions also scales reasonably, so costs are minimal for simple contracts and higher for the more complicated ones.
Both NEO and Ethereum require some programming aptitude, but while Ethereum has a separate programming syntax, NEO allows users to create contracts in most popular programming languages. That means that C++, C#, Java, and Python programmers will be able to port their coding abilities straight to the NEO contracts platform.
More About NEO:
- Total supply of 100 million
- Uses the Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance (dBFT) consensus algorithm
- Written in C#
- Launched February 2014
Although not to the same extent as NEO, when compared to Ethereum, NEM has speed on its side. Mainly marketed for is its convenience, NEM empowers end users with the ability to create contracts even with little coding knowledge. Ethereum offers a programming language with a few sample templates, but NEM provides a simple API to create straightforward contracts with a few clicks.
Using web development as an analogy, think of NEM being comparable to WordPress while Ethereum is HTML plus PHP. While NEM is easy to use, Ethereum offers more possibilities if the user is a competent programmer.
The GAS rates of NEM can be quite higher than Ethereum, especially when developing involved contracts or apps. Overall savings may be had with NEM since companies may need to hire programmers to create advanced contracts on the Ethereum network while any end user can figure out NEM.
More About NEM:
- Total supply of 8.9 billion XEM
- Launched March 2015
- Written in Java and C++
- Uses the Proof-of-Importance algorithm
While not the fastest on the market, the Waves blockchain is still miles ahead of Ethereum’s as it can process hundreds of transactions per second. What is even better is that a decentralized exchange is built into the Waves network, making altcoin exchanges even quicker.
Waves takes a more simplistic approach to smart contracts, making it easy for a client with no coding knowledge to create one. Instead of using a variable gas system to fuel smart contracts, costs are paid up front so that there are no surprises. Also, users can deploy their contracts and apps instantly and still be able to make edits in the future.
More About Waves:
- Circulating supply of 100 million WAVES
- Launched June 2016
- Proof-of-Stake algorithm
- Written in Scala
EOS is quite an anomaly in the crypto market, having been resistant to past market crashes. It stubbornly remains among the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. Built by the same developer behind Steem and Bitshares, EOS benefits from some of the innovations found in those coins.
The network is rather robust as it can support over 3,000 transactions per second with each confirmation averaging 1.5 seconds. In comparison, a confirmation on the Ethereum network can take up to 40 seconds and up to 10 transactions processed per second. Even with improved efficiency, EOS charges nothing to create contracts and imposes no fees for transactions.
With both smart contracts and applications on the network, creators can freeze applications to make modifications. Of course, the contract must define the rules for doing so, and there are limits to what the can edit.
More About EOS:
- Total supply of 900 million EOS
- Launched January 2018
- A maximum of 5% annual inflation
- Uses a delegated Proof-of-Stake algorithm
- Written in C++
Cardano had a sudden launch into the top 10 cryptocurrencies in 2017. Since then, the platform has been considered competitive with the likes of NEO and Ethereum. Just like its competitors, the focus is to provide a platform for programmable smart contracts.
Cardano is unique because of its obsession with quality control. The development of their source code has a strict peer review system that is similar to academic journals. The project also aims to extend the limitations of current blockchains to see what the technology can do.
Like Ethereum, programmable smart contracts are based on terms and conditions to release funds. The included Plutus programming language is similar to Haskell and may be used to create advanced decentralized applications on the network. The omission of metadata can provide an extra layer of privacy that is not possible with NEO or Ethereum.
More About Cardano:
- Total supply of 31,112,483,745 ADA
- Maximum supply of 45 billion ADA
- Launched September 2017
- Proof-of-Stake algorithm
- Written in Haskell
Although Ethereum Classic is no longer under the control of the original development team, this fork remains in the community’s original vision of the ETH project. When the Ethereum blockchain got hacked, the development team (along with the DAO) decided to reverse any stolen coins from the hack with a hard-fork.
From the point of the hard-fork, community members rejected the idea of making the blockchain modifiable at will and went against decentralization. Since then, other technical changes to this forked version of ETH made it stand apart, most notably the ECIP 1017, which reduced block rewards and set a maximum supply of 230 million.
Since ETC is a small fraction of the cost as the mainstream version of Ethereum, it costs little to create smart contracts.
More About Ethereum Classic:
- Total supply of 230 million
- Forked July 2015
- Written in C++, Go, Rust and Scala
- Over 100 million ETC circulating
QuarkChain (QKC) is a recent entry into the race with the vision of creating a highly secured blockchain with their goal of processing 100,000 transations per second (tps), beating Ethereum with 10 tps and Visa who is currently at 65,000 tps.
They are also using Ethereum Virtual Machine to support smart contacts, this will also give developers an easy migration of any existing EVM dApps onto the QuarkChain platform.
There is an extensive article covering all of QuarkChain’s specifications and real world applications, which you can read here .
More About QuarkChain:
- Total supply of 10 billion
- ICO Launch June 2018
- Written in C++/C, Python
- 357,431,729 QKC circulating
- Sharding Technology
- EVM Support
After analyzing the competition, it is evident that Ethereum is lagging behind in innovation. Vitalik Buterin is due credit since his invention did kick-start development in the cryptocurrency market as Bitcoin and other PoW coins did not offer real-world value. Keep in mind that a coin’s functionality doesn’t necessarily reflect its value. That mostly comes from high-end speculative investors, which is why Ethereum and Bitcoin have such high values for old coins.
What do you think?