Digital asset manager Grayscale has published a report on smart contract platforms in which it likens the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain to the best and worst parts of New York City.
The report examines the granddaddy smart contract network Ethereum in comparison to newer competing blockchains such as Solana (SOL), Avalanche (AVAX), Polkadot (DOT), Cardano (ADA) and Stellar (XLM). The report comes in the wake of the firm launching a crypto fund dedicated to smart contract platforms, excluding Ethereum.
In a section titled “Digital cities,” Grayscale analyzed Ethereum, Avalanche and Solana. The firm compared Ethereum to the Big Apple, noting that they share similarities with issues that arise from their stature:
“Ethereum is like New York City: It is vast, expensive and congested in certain areas. However, it also features the richest application ecosystem, with over 500 apps that command a total value of over $100 billion—more than 10x larger than any other competing network.”
“Users and developers take comfort that Ethereum will likely continue to be the center of gravity for application innovation and liquidity due to the size of its community and the amount of capital locked into the network’s smart contracts. An L2 solution like Polygon is comparable to a skyscraper in NYC: It scales by building upwards,” the report added.
The firm went on to suggest that users moving to competing blockchains is like moving to a cheaper city due to the high gas fees and network congestion on Ethereum caused by overwhelming demand for decentralized finance (DeFi) services and nonfungbile tokens (NFTs) over the past two years.
“As Ethereum fees began to eclipse $10 per transaction, smart contract platforms like Stellar, Algorand, Solana and Avalanche experienced strong growth in daily on-chain transaction counts,” the report read.
Grayscale described Solana as like Los Angeles, noting that it is a “structurally distinct network that is speedier and focuses on different use cases” such as on-chain order books such as Mango Markets, which requires fast transaction speeds and low fees to operate.
“Solana’s architecture relies on a different consensus mechanism that prioritizes speed and lower fees though at the cost of more centralization — rather than scaling through L2 chains, Solana runs transactions through a speedy L1 chain. Running roughly 2300 transactions per second as of March 15, 2022,” the report reads.
Avalanche was compared to Chicago in that its economy is similar to NYC, but has a smaller network, “transactions are cheaper and less congested, and development is more centralized.”
“Game-specific subnets like Crabada, and partnerships with firms like Deloitte should offer more differentiation compared to apps on other chains, helping Avalanche craft a distinct identity moving forward,” Grayscale wrote.
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Regardless of the comparisons, Grayscale emphasized the bullish use cases for smart contract platforms moving forward, with the firm pointing towards DeFi and the up and coming Metaverse sector in particular:
“The market opportunity for DeFi and Metaverse applications combined, in our opinion, is likely larger than the $2 trillion market cap of the entire digital assets market today.”
“Smart contract platforms are the operating layer that DeFi and Metaverse applications build on and leverage for transactions, ultimately driving value to the base chain as users accumulate native tokens for fees,” the report added.