The blockchain ecosystem is quickly becoming a crowded place. While there are hundreds of captivating platforms hitting the market right now, these five stand out as being uniquely exciting and capable.
Since the start of last year, cryptocurrencies have been capturing the imagination of millions of people. Beginning with Bitcoin and expanding to encompass hundreds of currencies, this movement is a unique combination of intrigue and investment opportunity, and the collective enthusiasm is spawning an entirely new economy.
Crypto’s popularity has brought attention and resources to this industry, and it’s allowing new companies and initiatives to develop platforms and experiment with solutions. There are hundreds of these decentralized applications and compelling as they may be, it can be difficult to cut through the noise to get a clear glimpse of some of the more interesting products available right now.
To help with this, we’ve compiled a list of five exciting platforms that are prevalent in the blockchain space right now.
Ethereum – A Giant in Transformation
From its inception, Ethereum has continually played the rival to Bitcoin. Although its market cap is only 40% of Bitcoin’s it attained mind and market share to a degree that other coins besides Bitcoin have not been able to achieve. No other digital currency is even half as valuable as Ethereum.
However, that’s not their most important component. Ethereum’s blockchain serves as the launching pad for hundreds of new blockchain-based platforms that launched in the past 18 months. Already this year, these companies have raised an astonishing $9billion towards their projects. As it grows in size and importance, Ethereum continues to adapt.
Their new rollout, dubbed Casper, is transitioning the platform from a Proof of Work to a Proof of Stake consensus algorithm that should make Ethereum more energy efficient and transitionally viable. It’s a significant upgrade for a prominent platform, and its success could provide a roadmap for other blockchain platforms that are being weighed down by their own success.
Steemit – Social Media for the Blockchain Age
Social media is making headlines a lot lately, and not for the right reasons. Facebook, the most popular social media platform, has more than 2 billion active users and it’s roiled in a user data scandal that is upending the entire industry. Users are increasingly aware of the creepy ads that follow them around on social media and the “feed” itself often feels more like a walk down a busy city street than an enjoyable perusal with friends and family.
Steemit is bringing the best components of the blockchain to bear on social media. Using a payment model that rewards users for generating content, Steemit is attempting to resuscitate social media’s potential. Using the blockchain, things like privacy, integrity, and equity can be protected and enforced, and the social media industry is currently clamouring for these features.
To be sure, Steemit remains in its infancy. It has less than 200,000 users, but its features are distinguishable in an era where traditional social media platforms are failing to provide the experience that users want and deserve.
Qtum – Bridging the Blockchains
In their 2018 tech trends report, research and consulting firm Deloitte identified blockchain connectivity as a necessary next step for the blockchain industry. Currently, there are dozens of private and public blockchains that are building sizable platforms with compelling capabilities, but they can’t readily communicate with one another. Therefore, Deloitte writes, “operational silos keep some companies from either developing clear business plans around blockchain or collaborating with ecosystem partners for mass adoption.” In other words, for blockchain technology to be more fully proliferate, it must be able to communicate and collaborate with other chains. Qtum bridges that gap.
Intended as a blockchain for business solutions, Qtum combines elements of Bitcoin’s blockchain with essential elements of Ethereum’s platform. This hybrid model is powered by Proof of Stake consensus algorithms that align with Ethereum’s current goals. This functionality should give businesses more opportunity to begin implementing blockchain technology into their existing systems.
IOTA – Blockchain Capabilities for IoT
In many ways, IoT is the next frontier for technology integration. Currently, there are more than 25 billion IoT connected devices, and that number is expected to triple in the next seven years. These devices are coming online just as the internet’s security is frequently being undermined by destructive network hacks that compromise users’ security, invade their privacy, and endanger their personal information. The IoT may be relatively secure, but it only takes one hacked baby monitor to cause everyone to question the technology’s efficacy.
Essentially, IOTA transitions IoT into a series of feeless transactions that are completed using the blockchain’s smart contracts. Many of the blockchain’s most lauded features come into play here including tokenized identify, rapid transactions, and a reliable network. Using these tools, IOTA is striving to create a blockchain-based platform that can empower the future of IoT.
IBM – Blockchain Business Solutions
IBM is more than 100 years old, and they have a reputation for being at the forefront of tech-minded business development. Therefore, it’s no surprise that, in recent years, the company has made a serious pivot towards blockchain technology. The move includes everything from educational materials on the basic tenets of the blockchain to extensive consulting services for blockchain adoption.
IBM’s presence doesn’t just legitimize the industry, it provides valuable tools for companies making the transformation from outdated, centralized services, to a decentralized network built for the future. With a cadre of top-tier clients, IBM is reminding everyone that the blockchain space isn’t just inhabited by baby-faced startups. There is room for the experienced and the proven as well.
Concepts to Embrace
These companies are creating compelling platforms that proliferate blockchain adoption across a variety of industries. That does not mean that they are the only companies that are doing this. There are hundreds of innovative new ideas that are reimagining the way that we interact with digital platforms, and that’s the exciting possibility of the decentralized economy.
If anything, these companies are a reminder that meaningful innovation is possible. They can serve as an inspiration to developers to continue promoting big ideas, and they can encourage users to explore new platforms and ideas. The blockchain ecosystem is vast and expansive. Take a look around.