Smart contracts have long become indispensable to digitally powered infrastructures and projects. Their functions and decentralized solutions now serve as an extra extension for many crucial industries, including trade finance, insurance, gaming, cryptocurrency, and Web 3.0. And due to the rise of the decentralized finance market, smart contracts’ platforms have gained an even more immense significance in 2023. Such a platform provides the blockchain technology foundation for smart contract applications, hosts their deployment and execution, and offers smart contract programming or testing services.
Today, the vast majority of smart contract developers and crypto specialists are pushing their respective digital ecosystems as the prime home for decentralized applications and other existing blockchain platforms. As a result, the number of platforms facilitating, verifying, and enforcing smart contracts grows drastically. Hence, ” What are the best smart contract platforms?” Is the second most given question, right after the popular ” What are the top smart contract audit firms?”.
So, in this article, let’s review and analyze the most popular smart contract platforms and consider their technical maturity in the growing blockchain community.
What Are Smart Contract Platforms?
As we already know, a smart contract represents a computer code residing on the blockchain, ensuring that the contract will execute automatically when two parties meet all predetermined terms. When initially set agreements are met, input triggers will perform the defined tasks, such as making payments, transferring digital assets, and releasing funds without involving intermediaries. Moreover, once deployed, the smart contract’s self-executing code can’t be altered anymore, making the financial transactions more secure and transparent.
What concerns smart contract platforms, they serve as a gateway enabling users to host smart contracts on the top of the blockchain network. Additionally, they provide high-level security, standardization, and support for building dApps and developing dApps and other blockchain projects. Some platforms, alongside basic smart contract development, also offer Software Development Kits and different ready-made templates to ease the code deployment process.
Smart Contract Platform: Features and Benefits
When choosing a platform for deploying your smart contracts, it’s essential to look through the provided features and benefits to see if all required conditions are available. Most smart contract platforms should have the following characteristics and benefits to be considered a reliable option.
- Speed: Transaction speed is a vital feature distinguishing the quality of a platform. The speed is essential for real-time smart contract execution, eliminating transaction delays, and expediting payments.
- Data Integrity: Distributed blockchain technologies ensure data validity and backup.
- Accuracy: A solid platform eliminates the risk of human errors, as no manual intervention is necessary for developing and deploying smart contracts.
- Risk Reduction: Security is the most crucial feature of any decentralized platform. Therefore, blockchain encryption minimizes the risk of hacking and manipulation.
- Cost-Effectiveness: Smart contract application development is a complex process and can require specific transaction fees. That’s why before picking a suitable platform, do your own research to understand development costs and gas fees.
The Best Smart Contract Platform Providers: Review
The blockchain space is full of smart contract platforms, and picking the best one among so many different options can be a challenging task to complete. Hence, we gathered a list of top smart contract platforms based on smart contract experts’ reviews and evaluations to help you shorten the research process. So, let’s move on and look through them and discuss their characteristics in detail.
It is one of the most popular and well-known smart contract platforms in developers’ rankings. Ethereum was launched in 2015 and currently allows the implementation of various applications ranging between smart contract-based insurance and Initial Coin Offerings. The platform was established after Ethereum’s founder Vitalik Buterin’s notion of adding application development capabilities to the smart contracts platforms was rejected by Bitcoin developers. And precisely because of Ethereum’s first-mover advantage, the platform has attracted considerable crypto investments and gained popularity with famous companies like Samsung and Intel.
However, Ethereum has faced various incorrect judgments and challenges in the last few years leading to network overload and scalability issues. As a result, the transaction costs and speeds are far beyond other smart contract platforms.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Ethereum platform has its own smart contract language and native ERC-20 token, which can be used to execute smart contracts and make various crypto transactions.
The Stellar network is one of the pioneers in the blockchain field, providing a functional platform for smart contract development. It outperforms almost any other smart contract platform regarding high-end security, transaction speed, and cost. Due to Stellar smart contracts’ features, the platform has become the perfect choice for money exchange and transactions. Hence, IBM selected Stellar to develop World Wire, a global payment system that facilitates cross-border money transfers.
However, it’s also important to note that Stellar is mainly suitable for developers who want to execute basic smart contracts such as ICOs and simple escrow contracts. Furthermore, unlike Ethereum, the platform doesn’t have its own smart contract programming language or virtual machine. Instead, you can develop smart contracts on the Stellar platform using any of the most common programming languages.
#3 Hyperledger Fabric
Another leading figure in the list of top smart contract platforms is Hyperledger Fabric, created by the Linux Foundation. It is an authorized blockchain platform, which means the identities of participants are known and require authentication. This feature makes Hyperledger Fabric a preferable choice for those businesses that deal with a load of sensitive data and need to comply with data protection laws and requirements like GDPR.
Furthermore, the users of this smart contract developing platform can build secret channels for a specific group of network members, which allows only selected participants to access transaction data. In addition, Hyperledger Fabric offers the most significant degree of cybersecurity, which is possible due to the additional hardware-based security model designed for identity management.
Established in 2017, Tezos has become one of the most prominent smart contract platforms with the initial goal of eliminating traditional blockchain concerns.
Tezos combines self-amendments with on-chain administration to minimize the risk of hard forks. It means that you can immediately change and alter protocols if other platform stakeholders approve the recommended modification. Moreover, the platform security and code accuracy are high due to the formal verification technology, which means third parties cannot shut down or censor decentralized apps or Tezos smart contracts.
Another distinguishing feature of Tezos is that the platform achieves distributed consensus through delegated Proof of Stake instead of the Proof of Work approach. Tezos provides two types of delegates: those that validate the blocks and those that combine nodes into blocks. As a result, the consensus process takes less computational power compared to mining and allows for relatively better transaction throughput.
Furthermore, Tezos has its platform-specific programming language, which you can use to develop your own code.
The smart contracts’ platforms list will surely be incomplete without EOS. This platform has gained popularity due to its near-zero transaction costs and speed of transactions. According to the EOS team, the platform can process millions of crypto transactions per second through the staking power granting multiple parties access to resources according to their computational power and stakes equal to the number of owned tokens.
Furthermore, implementing the C++ language as a foundation enhances the platform’s scalability.
Avalanche is currently considered the fastest smart contract platform in the crypto industry among all available blockchain platforms, based on the time-to-finality measurement. In addition, the platform is exceptionally agile, environmentally sustainable, and secure, and the transaction fees are minimal, making it a popular option among crypto investors and experts.
The world’s first smart contract platform is Ethereum, which remains the preferred choice among crypto developers even today. The platform was launched in 2015 by Vitalik Buterin with a clear goal to expand the capabilities of smart contract development platforms with innovative solutions.
Currently, Ethereum facilitates the creation and development process of various blockchain applications, including decentralized apps and Initial Coin Offerings. Moreover, it also has a native token, ERC-20, which is used for making various transactions on the network.
With the rise of the DeFi industry and blockchain technologies, the number of platforms facilitating smart contracts increased frantically. Now, the crypto market is full of various smart contract firms and platforms, providing a secure and reliable environment for developing and executing smart contracts. Below, let’s look through the list of ten leading names in smart contract deployment platforms.
Cordano is among the most popular contract developing platforms, running on the Proof of Stake Ouroboros blockchain. It also has a native token, ADA, the market capitalization of which was one of the highest in the last year.