Ethereum is the second most important cryptocurrency project on the market today. The blockchain computing platform is widely announced as the start of the blockchain 2.0 phase. This is the fact that its creator Vitalik Buterin has further developed the original iteration of the blockchain, the Bitcoin network.
Buterin has created a new blockchain network, which has been able to support a new kind of innovation based on the blockchain called smart contracts. Smart Contracts are codified and self-implementing contractual transactions that have the potential to replace intermediaries in a wide range of human-to-human interactions, from man to machine and from machine to machine  Buterin , therefore, introduced a higher level of applicability to the blockchain space through the Ethereum network. With Bitcoin it was possible to store and transfer value, but Ethereum provided a platform through which it is possible to build entire blockchain-based ecosystems of different functions. This is encapsulated in the Ethereum whitepaper which states:
"What Ethereum intends to provide is a blockchain with a complete programming language complete with integrated Turing that can be used to create" contracts "that can be used to encode arbitrary states transition functions, allowing users to create any of the systems described above, as well as many others that we have not yet imagined, simply writing the logic in a few lines of code. " There are  over 1880 decentralized applications (dApps), which were built on the platform. In addition, many project developers have chosen the ERC20 token standard to launch their initial coin offerings (ICOs).
In addition, the Ethereum blockchain according to current reports is the most active smart contracts platform existing, according to ConsenSys. The network provides the basis for most of the most important token in the cryptocurrency sector.
"Of the first 100 tokens by market capitalization, 94 percent are built on Ethereum.Of the first 800 tokens, 87% are built on Ethereum.Most of these tokens are" token ERC-20 ", which made most of the $ 5.5 billion raised through token sales in 2017 and $ 6.5 billion collected in the first quarter of this year," said ConsenSys in a blog post .
The Ethereum network has a significant number of developers – currently around 250,000 developers – who are actively working on projects. Considering the size of the cryptocurrency sector, this is a commendable number.
The development framework provided by Ethereum, called Truffle, has been downloaded more than 500,000 times. Interestingly, download rates have also increased when altcoin prices continued to decline during the year.
In addition, the number of people who use the Ethereum network to send and store value continues to grow. There is also a growing interest from people trying to run nodes on the Ethereum network .
"On January 4, 2018, more than 350,000 new addresses were created, most of the addresses generated in a 24-hour period.Electronodes reports just under 17,000 nodes managing the Ethereum blockchain on six continents, making it the platform of more decentralized blockchain existing, "added ConsenSys.
From many metrics, it is clear that Ethereum is one of the best blockchain projects on the market. However, there have been many concerns across the industry on Ethereum's scale problems. As the number of applications on the network continues to grow, the network has been plagued by slow transaction times and higher transaction fees, which has even led to proclamations about the imminent death of the smart contract platform.
While Ethereum focuses on solving its downsizing problems there are some platforms that bet on taking its place as the number one platform of smart contracts.
EOS was launched at the start of this year after a year long ICO. Block One, based in the Cayman Islands, has created the decentralized application platform. The Block One team is made up of some well-known names who have been involved in other innovative blockchain projects that have contributed to the blockchain community.
One of these is Daniel Larimer. Larimer is credited with some innovations. He invented the DPoS protocol (Delegated Proof of Stake) and the concept of decentralized autonomous corporations. Larimer also created the BitShares blockchain network and the Steemit decentralized social media platform. He has now turned his attention to the management of EOS through Block One, where he serves as CTO while Brendan Blumer is the CEO.
EOS describes itself as "the most powerful infrastructure for decentralized applications." Similar to Ethereum, it is a blockchain-driven platform on which it is possible to create and implement smart contracts. However, EOS has some significant differences compared to its predecessor.
One of the significant differences in transaction speeds. The Ethereum network can process only about 15 transactions per second. This is very low compared to other traditional payment processors such as Visa and Mastercard. This fact is one of the reasons why the cryptocurrency sector, including Ethereum, can not yet compete with traditional service providers. EOS, however, claims to be able to process up to 6000 transactions per second.
EOS uses the delegated trial of the stake protocol as a consensus mechanism. Within the EOS network, 21 block makers are tasked with keeping the network running. While this is the fact that it makes the network infinitely faster than Ethereum, it also has its drawbacks.
It is feared that the DPoS protocol, especially as witnessed to within EOS, lends itself to centralization. This is an undesirable result for obvious reasons.
In addition, within the EOS network, transactions are processed without any commission. While each network needs tariffs to justify the cost of network security, the EOS model is structured in a way that does not involve user payment rates when using the network in any way.
Instead, there is an inflation rate of 1% connected to the native cryptographic token of networks that is then distributed to node owners.
This is a significant advantage over the Ethereum model. Within Ethereum, users pay a fee for each transaction. This is applicable for both developers and those who transfer value. The lack of transaction fees in EOS is an excellent case for the newcomer.
Another important contender is Stellar. The star network is mainly known for providing fast, low-cost cross-border payments. "Stellar is a platform that connects banks, payment systems and people, integrating to move money quickly, reliably and almost at no cost," according to its website.
By using a network of interconnected nodes and its native cryptographic token called Lumens (XLM), the Stellar network can process payments across international borders with a high level of efficiency. The network can do this regardless of the currency in which the value is called. All a user has to do is give money, in any currency, to a node, known as an anchor, and then send it to someone else who can then choose the currency in which to receive it.
The Stellar network offers high processing speeds as transactions are resolved in 2-5 seconds. Furthermore, commissions associated with transactions are low. Furthermore, the Stellar network has smart contract functionality.
While Smart Stellar contracts are not complete with Turing and therefore can not support complex applications, they are still popular with developers because they are easy to implement. Because of the relatively easy-to-use development tools provided by Stellar, smart platform contracts are simple to create and do not require extensive programming knowledge.
The simplicity of Stellars' smart contract functionality further supports higher speeds, which is an advantage for those seeking to make token sales. In addition, the Stellar network also has a decentralized exchange in which users can exchange their token immediately after implementation.
Joyce Kim and Jed McCaleb created Stellar. McCaleb is also credited as the co-founder of Ripple. Some high-profile and high-value projects have chosen Stellar to host their ICO as the Canadian messenger giant Kik.
Created in 2015 by Charles Hoskinson, a co-founder of Ethereum, Cardano describes himself as a third-generation blockchain and has dubbed himself "Ethereum Killer"
. Hoskinson separated from Buterin and Ethereum following the ideological differences regarding the financing model the project was supposed to employ. Hoskinson was convinced that the search for early capital by angel investors and the creation of a for-profit model was better, while Buterin preferred the crowdfunding and non-profit model.
One of Cardano's distinctive qualities is that it uses open source code academically reviewed by colleagues to ensure that the network runs smoothly and that developers have a solid code base to build applications.
Cardano has its native cryptographic token referred to as ADA. Using the token, Cardano claims to be able to process high-speed transactions. While the platform is still under development, in a test done at the beginning of 2017, the platform was able to handle 257 transactions per second.
Cardano uses a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consent algorithm known as Ouroboros, which is said to be only a mathematically proven consent protocol. In addition, Cardano is designed to have two levels, which allow it to function both as a token and as a platform.
This project of Chinese blockchain NEO formerly Antshares, aims to exploit blockchain technology to create what defines an intelligent economy. In particular, NEO "uses blockchain technology and digital identity to digitize resources and automate the management of digital assets through smart contracts.With a distributed network, it aims to create a" Smart Economy ", says its website
While NEO can support smart contracts and decentralized applications, the platform takes a step forward and allows the digitization of physical resources.Through digital identity, the NEO can link tangible assets to their owners and store this information on an immutable blockchain The potential for this is infinite since any number and type of resource can be linked to an identity.
NEO uses PKI (essential public infrastructure) to verify these identities.This is an advantage when it comes to adoption, as the use of this standard means that governments and traditional industries have nno more likely to use the platform. Furthermore, the NEO platform supports atomic exchanges.
Tron is dedicated to the creation of a truly decentralized Internet. Born from an idea of Justin Sun, the project is consistent with respect to Ethereum. Previously Sun stated that Tron is much faster than Ethereum, up to 80 times faster. Tron claims to be able to process over 2000 transactions per second.
Furthermore, there are no transaction fees on the Tron network. This is a distinct advantage for users. The network also supports atomic swaps and has an internal decentralized exchange.
Tron can support both smart and simple contracts written in Java. Compared to Ethereum, where developers must use the native coding language of the Solidity platform, the use of the popular Java writing language allows a more significant number of developers to work on the Tron platform. Tron also claims to offer a more significant potential for scalability thanks to its use of Google Protobue .
While Ethereum has a clear advantage for the first move in the field of intelligent and decentralized applications, the five projects mentioned above may provide some similar functionality with improvements. In some respects, they can even outperform their predecessor.
It remains to be seen whether Ethereum can consolidate its status as a market-leading intelligent contract platform once its scalability challenge is resolved or if another player will emerge as the winner.