In 2013, cryptocurrencies took the next step in their evolution when Ethereum (CRYPTO: ETH) was created. With the arrival of Ethereum, a new form of blockchain technology known as smart contracts would provide the foundation for things like non-fungible tokens, decentralized exchanges, and yield farming to come along. Now that it has a been a few years, the number of smart contract-based blockchains has grown. Newer cryptocurrencies like Cardano (ADA -6.48%), Solana (SOL -7.49%), and VeChain (VET -5.46%) have begun to leverage smart contract technology in their own unique way and should be considered for a spot in every investor’s portfolio.
Neil Patel (Cardano): Cardano was launched in 2017 by Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson, which immediately makes the blockchain project more interesting and credible because of its leader’s pedigree at helping to create the world’s second most valuable cryptocurrency. As of Aug. 24, Cardano has generated a monster total return of more than 1,700%, despite dropping 85% from its all-time high of $3.10 in September 2021. Today, Cardano is the eighth most valuable crypto with a market cap of $15.6 billion.
While Cardano runs a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, it operates two layers. The Cardano Computing Layer lets decentralized applications (dApps) run via smart contracts. And the Cardano Settlement Layer is where transactions are validated. This innovative setup allows for network congestion to be offloaded from the main blockchain, helping to speed up transaction processing times.
Cardano’s development process is unique in that it utilizes a research-driven and stage-gate approach. This strategy, which relies on peer review from computer scientists and cryptographers at top universities around the world, might make Cardano slower than other cryptos when it comes to implementing upgrades. But this approach helps to minimize mistakes by thinking through possible risk factors.
The latest development phase, called Goguen, brought smart contracts to the platform as a result of the Alonzo hard fork that was completed in September last year. This instantly made Cardano a direct competitor to Ethereum’s dominance in the space. And the current phase, known as Basho, is all about improving the network’s scalability and interoperability. With the Hydra layer-2 solution, Cardano can theoretically process an incredible 1 million transactions per second (TPS), crushing Ethereum’s current capacity of 13 TPS.
As of this writing, there are more than 1,000 different decentralized applications running on Cardano’s network, demonstrating its appeal to developers working on building services that bring utility to the blockchain. What’s more, Cardano shows promise with enterprise-level solutions, like identity verification for finance organizations and preventing counterfeiting for businesses in the retail sector.
Reaching a price of $1 per token, up approximately 117% from today’s price, is certainly on the table if Cardano can continue making progress with its development roadmap and with the growth of its dApp ecosystem.
Michael Byrne (Solana): Solana is an appealing platform for smart contracts thanks to the network’s lightning-fast speed and low fees. Solana can achieve a throughput of around 65,000 transactions per second, although it typically averages around 3,000 . Solana also boasts sub-second transaction times. This high speed and capacity prompted Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) analysts to say that Solana can potentially become the “Visa (NYSE: V) of the digital asset ecosystem.” Solana achieves this speed by using a process called proof of history, in which it orders and batches transactions together before processing them through proof-of-stake consensus. The Solana network had nearly 2,000 validators as of July, far more than any other smart contract platform outside of Ethereum, making it more decentralized than other layer-1 blockchains.
In addition, Solana uses popular programming languages like Rust, C+, and C++, meaning that developers can create applications on the platform without having to learn a new language.
These attributes combine to make Solana an appealing platform to develop applications on. According to data from crypto research firm Messari, the number of unique programs on Solana has exploded over the past year, with more than 1,000 programs with daily usage as of July, up from less than 200 last August.
RJ Fulton (VeChain): VeChain was originally an ERC20 token on the Ethereum blockchain but transitioned to its own blockchain in 2018. Since then, the blockchain has partnered with some of the largest corporations in the world to solve business challenges in a secure and instantaneous environment on the blockchain.
Customers of VeChain use their smart contract-based solutions to track, automate, and account for goods as they move through supply chains. In an increasingly globalized world where products change hands multiple times before being purchased, VeChain provides an invaluable solution to companies in various industries.
It’s a growing list, but VeChain has already partnered with some of the most notable brands around the world. Automaker BMW (OTC: BAMXF) uses VeChain to manage data such as mileage, repairs, and additional services of a vehicle. Walmart (NYSE: WMT) in China employed VeChain as part of a traceability program that promotes transparency for consumers to know exactly where their food is coming from. Pharmaceutical giant Bayer (OTC: BAYR.Y) tapped VeChain to build an application that tracks clinical drugs as they move through the supply chain. Luxury brand Givenchy is adding microchips to their handbags so owners can verify authenticity. The world’s No. 1 electric-vehicle maker, BYD (OTC: BYDDY), uses VeChain to track carbon credits for drivers.
As companies continue to grapple with supply chain issues, VeChain could be used to maintain accuracy and track logistics for international products. The counterfeit economy is a lucrative one and is believed to reach nearly $1 trillion in 2022. With VeChain, companies can ensure authenticity and minimize cost impacts more effectively.
The future is bright for VeChain as the world becomes more digital. If looking to diversify your smart contract blockchain holdings, it’s difficult to ignore the long term value VeChain holds as more companies look for blockchain-based solutions.
Bank of America is an advertising partner of The Ascent, a Motley Fool company. Michael Byrne has positions in Ethereum, Solana, and Walmart. Neil Patel has positions in Ethereum. RJ Fulton has positions in Cardano, Ethereum, and Solana. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends BYD, Ethereum, Solana, Visa, and Walmart. The Motley Fool recommends BMW. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.