2021 emerged to be groundbreaking for the overall crypto space. Along with cryptocurrencies, elements of the sector like Web3.0 and metaverse gaming, among others also witnessed a better understanding and adoption in many parts of the world. Stepping into 2022, there are other crypto-related technologies which are set to boom. Blockchain is one such technology to look out for. Blockchain is the underlying technology which supports cryptocurrencies.
This five-part series will help you with a deeper understanding of the broadening crypto space and its elements.
For 2022, I am bullish on 5 crypto sectors:
- Web 3.0 cryptos
- Gaming & Metaverse cryptos
- Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
In previous editions, we have covered the top Web 3.0 Cryptos and the top Gaming and Metaverse Cryptos.
Today, let's talk about the top 5 Blockchains for 2022.
My list of top 5 blockchains are:
- Binance Smart Chain
Let's start with a comparison of the basic metrics of these blockchains as of 14 Jan 2022:
|Name ||Symbol ||Market Cap ($ billion) ||TVL ($ billion) ||MCap/TVL |
|Ethereum ||ETH ||384 ||147 ||2.6 |
|Binance Smart Chain ||BNB ||79 ||15 ||5.4 |
|Avalanche ||AVAX ||22 ||11 ||1.9 |
|Polygon ||MATIC ||16 ||5.4 ||2.8 |
|Algorand ||ALGO ||8.7 ||NA ||NA |
- Market cap = Current Price x Circulating Supply
- Total value locked (TVL) represents the total of all assets deposited in the protocol earning rewards, interest, new coins/ tokens, fixed income, etc.
Sources: CoinMarketCap, Future Money Wallet, DefiLlama (rounded off)
1. Ethereum (ETH)
Ethereum is NOT a blockchain. It's NOT a cryptocurrency either! It's actually a protocol (a set of rules or procedures) like "HTTP" or "HTTPS."
Multiple independent blockchains run on the Ethereum protocol. When most people talk about Ethereum, they are talking about Mainnet — the primary public Ethereum production blockchain. This is where actual-value transactions occur on the blockchain. The native crypto of this Ethereum is Ether (ETH).
One of the greatest blockchain innovations is the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
EVM is "the environment in which all 'Ethereum' accounts and smart contracts live". Smart contracts are programs that run automatically when some pre-defined conditions are met.
The sole purpose of the Ethereum protocol is to keep "the continuous, uninterrupted, and immutable operation" of the EVM. At any given block, Ethereum has only one "canonical" or unique state. EVM defines the rules for computing new valid states from one block to another.
EVM exists as a single entity maintained by a large number of connected computers (nodes) running an Ethereum client such as Geth or OpenEthereum. A client is a software that enables nodes to read blocks on the blockchain and smart contracts.
The most popular Ethereum standards are ERC-20 (for fungible tokens like stablecoins) and ERC-721 (for non-fungible tokens). Then there are ERC-777 (improving ERC-20) and ERC-1155 (which contains both fungible and non-fungible assets).
Gas refers to the unit that measures the amount of computational effort required to execute specific operations on the Ethereum network.
Each Ethereum transaction requires a fee called "gas" because each transaction consumes computational resources. The gas fee is paid in ETH and denoted in gwei (0.000000001 ETH).
Block time is the time it takes to mine a new block (a bunch of transactions). The average Ethereum block time is 12 to 14 seconds.
Ethereum started the concept of decentralised finance (DeFi) and today an amazing multi-billion dollar ecosystem has evolved around it:
- $100+ billion of fiat pegged & algorithmic stablecoins.
- Innovative projects like Uniswap, Chainlink, Aave, Unstoppable Domains, Basic Attention Token, Polygon, and OpenSea.
- Asset-backed cryptos like tokenized stocks.
Consensus mechanism: Proof of work
2. Binance Smart Chain (BNB)
Binance Chain, the first blockchain from Binance, is optimized for fast decentralized trading but lacks smart contracts and strong programmability.
That's why Binance Smart Chain (BSC) was created. It runs parallel to the original Binance Chain, has smart contract functionality, and is compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
BSC is an independent blockchain and is not a layer two or off-chain scalability solution.
Binance Smart Chain has a block time of around 3 seconds. The native token of both blockchains is BNB.
Validators stake BNB and can receive transaction fees. Unlike Bitcoin, there is no block reward by way of newly minted BNB. This is because BNB is not inflationary. Instead, the supply of BNB decreases over time, because the Binance team regularly "burns" coins.
Interestingly, BEP-2 and BEP-8 tokens from Binance Chain can be swapped for BEP-20 tokens on BSC. This can be easily done using the Binance Chain Wallet.
Consensus mechanism: Proof of Staked Authority
3. Avalanche (AVAX)
Avalanche is a popular Decentralised Finance (DeFi) blockchain.
The top DeFi protocols that run on Avalanche are AAVE, Trader Joe, Wonderland, Benqi, and Curve.
What I like the most about Avalanche is that it lets anyone launch customized private & public blockchains.
Avalanche, with a transactional throughput of more than 4,500 tps, performs phenomenally faster than Bitcoin (7 tps), Ethereum (14 tps), and Polkadot (1,500 tps).
In terms of transactional finality, Avalanche (less than 2 seconds) leads as compared to Bitcoin (60 minutes), Ethereum (6 minutes), and Polkadot (60 seconds).
AVAX is Avalanche's native token and it can be used for staking, paying fees, and providing a unit of account between the multiple subnetworks created on Avalanche.
Consensus mechanism: Snow protocol family (leaderless Byzantine fault tolerance protocols)
4. Polygon (MATIC)
The Ethereum blockchain is slow and costly. Polygon has a bunch of products and services to solve this problem.
Polygon's software development kit enables the building of Ethereum sidechains - blockchains linked to Ethereum via a two-way peg. These sidechains are of multiple types:
- Bundling transactions into blocks which are batched into a single submission to the Ethereum blockchain (Plasma Chains)
- Allowing multiple transfers to be bundled into a single transaction (zk-Rollups)
- Plasma Chains which also scale Ethereum smart contracts (Optimistic Rollups)
MATIC is Polygon's native token and has the following uses:
- pay for transaction fees in the network,
- be the unit of payment and settlement in the Polygon ecosystem,
- power the Polygon proof-of-stake sidechain.
Consensus mechanism: Proof of stake
5. Algorand (ALGO)
Algorand is a new-gen blockchain that is bridging the decentralized and centralized world of finance. Its native crypto is ALGO.
Algorand Standard Assets run on the blockchain's "Layer-1" and include fungible, non-fungible, restricted fungible, and restricted non-fungible assets.
Here's what I like the best about Algorand Standard Assets:
- Role-based asset controls are supported for business, compliance, and regulatory requirements.
- Asset accounts can be "quarantined" for investigations.
- "Forced" asset transfers can be done for legal compliance.
- Permissions can be configured so that only "whitelisted" addresses can transact.
- Off-chain asset documentation can be included in the on-chain asset definition.
- Users can "opt-in" to accept new assets.
Another feature I like in Algorand is "Rekeying in Layer-1", which enables a user to change their private key without changing the public address.
Consensus mechanism: Pure Proof of Stake.
Next edition: The top DeFi cryptos
Rohas Nagpal is the author of the Future Money Playbook and Chief Blockchain Architect at the Wrapped Asset Project. He is also an amateur boxer and a retired hacker. You can follow him on LinkedIn.
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