Ethereum has been the pioneer of smart contracts since many years ago. After its rise to the top of the crypto market in 2016-2017, everybody rushed to build their DApps (decentralized applications) on top of Ethereum blockchain. It has become the second most popular cryptocurrency in the world after Bitcoin itself.
However, the popularity of Ethereum has clogged its blockchain. Many Ethereum casual users have been complaining about its expensive gas fees and slow transaction speed. The pressure for Ethereum core developers to improve the gas fee mechanism has never been greater.
Many traders start to look elsewhere, and they start speculating which blockchain platform would be able to fix the scalability issues that have been plaguing Ethereum. There were many different blockchains that have been labeled as “Ethereum killer,” but none of them ever made it to the top. So, who are the next Ethereum killers and will they live up to the hype?
One of the biggest Ethereum rivals is definitely Cardano. It’s founded by Ethereum co-founder, Charles Hoskinson, and it has a unique approach to its development. Unlike Ethereum, Cardano is actually peer-reviewed, and it has native staking capabilities. Cardano uses a unique consensus mechanism that’s called Ouroborus, similar to Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS).
As for smart contract capabilities, Cardano uses a platform that’s called Plutus. It utilizes Haskell as its functional language to ensure the secure development of the protocol. While Cardano still hasn’t proven itself in terms of the amount of DApps in its ecosystem, it’s interesting to see what’s going to happen by the end of this year (or early next year) when developers finally start to build their DApps on top of Cardano blockchain.
Another name that can’t be ignored is definitely Polkadot (DOT). Polkadot was launched by Web3 Foundation, and it has raised over $150 million over three different token sales. Interestingly, Polkadot’s main figure is Gavin Wood, who was the co-founder and CTO of Ethereum. He’s also the inventor of Solidity, the main programming language of Ethereum smart contracts.
Unlike many other newer-gen blockchains that struggle to get adoption, Polkadot already has many projects joining its ecosystem through Polkadot’s Substrate open-source framework. Substrate-based projects and blockchains will be able to connect to the Polkadot blockchain natively. The idea of Polkadot is to enable cross-chain solutions for companies that want to build their own projects and blockchains. It is specialized in blockchain interoperability.
Another competitor to Ethereum is Cosmos Network, with its native cryptocurrency called ATOM. Just like Polkadot, Cosmos works as an interoperability solution to create a giant internet of blockchains. Many startups can easily build on top of Tendermint and Cosmos SDK and connect directly to the Cosmos network as every chain here is natively connected to each other.
Cosmos became very popular after it was forked by Binance Chain. As a result, Binance decided to give credit to Cosmos and acknowledge that its Binance Chain technology is based on Cosmos. Nowadays, some Cosmos-based DeFi protocols such as Kava have been enjoying their rise to fame. It’s predicted that Cosmos will have more useful DApps in the foreseeable future.
Another big competitor to Ethereum is Tron. Tron has been around since 2017 but it is able to stay relevant on top of most other altcoins for quite some time. Tron founder, Justin Sun, is very popular on Twitter, and he knows how to build businesses around the Tron ecosystem.
Tron has decent DApp activities and it’s still one of the top Ethereum alternatives when it comes to smart contract platforms. Tron has BitTorrent in its ecosystem as well as some newer DeFi projects like Just Network. Tron uses Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) for its consensus algorithm. Last but not least, Tron is also known as one of the faster and cheaper blockchains to transfer value and assets. It might not be as hyped as Cardano or Polkadot, but Tron still has a big potential.
EOS used to be the top competitor of Ethereum, and it still has a big potential despite the fact that it’s no longer as popular as it used to be. EOS main figure is Dan Larimer, who was also the co-founder of Steem and BitShares. Dan Larimer is recognized as the individual who popularized Delegated Proof-of-Stake in the crypto space.
EOS itself uses Delegated Proof-of-Stake consensus with 21 block producers. EOS is fast and cheap, just like other blockchain platforms mentioned in this article. That being said, it has been slowly losing its hype to other altcoins due to its DApps’ inactivity. Many of EOS supporters, however, still believe that EOS has many secret weapons to come back to the top of the crypto market.
Apart from these five altcoins mentioned above, there are also other potential projects like NEO, VeChain, Fantom, and others.
However, these above five projects have the most potential to overthrow Ethereum in the future. Some of them have more potential than others. It still remains to be seen whether they can eventually overthrow Ethereum from the throne. Either way, it’s interesting to see good smart contract and interoperability platforms competing against each other.