Cryptocurrency is still the hot trend. The industry enjoyed a great boom in 2017 — then, Bitcoin skyrocketed, and so did almost all altcoins. ICOs also gained immense popularity, collecting more than $7 billion in investments
. The trend was expected to continue in 2018, but instead, the cryptocurrency market stabilized at much lower positions.
Although the cryptocurrency market suffers from high volatility, the interest from entrepreneurs and developers is still growing. The reason is not cryptocurrency itself, which is just a means of payment, in essence. The reason is blockchain technology that underpins cryptocurrencies.
One of the most interesting features of blockchain is a smart contract technology. In our article, we will talk about platforms that implement this revolutionary mechanism. Thus, it makes them truly worth our attention in 2019.
Founded in 2014, Stellar is one of the most exciting smart contract platforms in the market. It is a decentralized open-source service for real-time transfers of cryptocurrencies and fiat money.
Large tech companies trust Stellar and implement this protocol in their systems. For example, IBM hopes to solve the problem of cross-border transfers using Stellar. In March, the tech giant announced the launch of World Wire, a global payment system that will connect banks. 6 international banks have already confirmed their willingness to participate in the development of a new stable coin for transaction settlement. The price of a new digital currency shouldn’t fluctuate much.
In addition to such game-changing partnerships, it is also worth noting that Stellar is much simpler and more understandable than its bigger brother Ethereum. However, being mainly responsible for money transfers, Stellar is not the best option for developing complex decentralized applications for large companies, be it a supply chain app, asset control app, etc. Still, you can conduct a simple ICO within the Stellar environment.
Is there anyone who hasn’t heard about Ethereum? Most people are familiar with the project thanks to its native cryptocurrency Ether. Ethereum has been one of the best start-ups of the last decades. And it is, perhaps, the best smart contract platform out there.
Why is it so? Ethereum is a feature-rich blockchain that can host plenty of dApps (e.g. games, exchanges, etc.) and ICOs. One of Ethereum’s main achievements is that it has made the development of smart contracts easier and more agile. The team behind Ethereum has even published a simple set of rules for all developers. The Solidity language created by Ethereum serves to standardize the development process and make smart contracts’ set-up seamless. Such standardization makes the threshold for entering the smart contract development market much lower.
The Ethereum community provides ongoing support to developers and entrepreneurs. The main mission of the company is to refine the understanding of smart contracts, their development, and implementation practices.
CoinMetro is a platform created by well-known cryptocurrency enthusiast Kevin Murcko in 2018. Yes, this is a fairly young project compared to the other examples in our list. The developers’ main task was to build a functional, user-friendly, intuitive platform for instant fiat and digital money exchange. CoinMetro is suitable for both beginners and experienced cryptocurrency players.
The platform considers security as one of its top priorities. Therefore, CoinMetro is looking for ways to get certified and licensed in as many countries as possible. Such a policy means that users will need to fill the KYC (Know Your Customer) full form in order to be able to make deposits and withdrawals.
XCM is CoinMetro’s native token that meets all the standards of ERC-20 set by Ethereum. All operations on the platform are fuelled by this token, including a standard transaction fee of 0.1%.
Here’s Ethereum’s main rival in the smart contract market. Created by Linux at the end of 2015, Hyperledger is an open-source project for decentralized blockchain-based app development.
It is worth remembering that Hyperledger is a permissioned network. This means that all its users are confirmed and known because the platform pursues the KYC (Know Your Customer) policy. This was done to satisfy the needs of large companies and businesses. The task was to develop a modern smart contract platform, and at the same time work within the legal framework complying with data protection rules. Large businesses are usually satisfied with such conditions because they require smart contracts to handle logistics and supply chain management which is why safety and reliability are paramount.
Hedera Hashgraph is a somewhat unique case because the platform doesn’t follow a standard (for this segment) proof-of-work logic. Instead, Hedera uses the binding arbitration algorithm. Smart contracts are developed with a number of public keys of the so-called arbitrators, who are able to add new functionality to the contract and fix any issues. However, this isn’t a problem since Hedera Hashgraph is a permissioned platform. The original idea was proposed by Hedera creators — Dr. Leemon Baird and Mance Harman.
The platform users’ privacy and data protection are achieved with the extremely popular asynchronous Byzantine Fault Tolerance consensus. Since the platform isn’t PoW-based, Hedera has small fees compared to other blockchain platforms, and this is also one of the platform’s advantages. Ultimately, Hedera is an interesting and, in a way, unique project. The idea was backed by a strong team of creators and as a result, we have a platform that you should definitely consider in 2019.
The list goes on…
The very essence of blockchain and smart contracts implies perfect conditions for fair competition. Whether it is for an art investment or a healthcare company, a well-developed blockchain project will always receive its portion of attention. The minimum entry threshold, support from a huge community and untapped niches encourage developers to create more platforms and services. Keeping track of each is not an easy task. Don’t be lazy to conduct your own research and carefully study the platform before you start using it.