With the launch of Ethereum in 2015, a burst of excitement has arrived on the future potential of smart contracts.
Using a more flexible scripting language than Bitcoin, decentralized platform applications (DApps) have been touted by proponents as the unblocking of a plethora of previously untapped blockchain use cases. From legal assets and blockchain-based legal contracts to medical records and supply chain monitoring, DApps reshape traditional industries in their image, solve bottlenecks and revolutionize corporate inefficiencies out of existence.
More than three years later, and we are still waiting for the revolution.
The harsh truth of the modern use of DApp
Overall, the top ten Ethereum smart contract addresses account for just over 29 million transactions. It seems substantial, as if the network were opening up towards mainstream adoption, yes?
The reality: this volume of transactions went to DApps that are used for token sales, decentralized exchanges and exchanges of digital kittens.
This is according to the research of SFOX, a first cryptocurrency for high net worth individuals with the support of the Digital Currency Group and Blockchain Capital. The data were compiled on behalf of SFOX customers, the company said Bitcoin Magazine, because "it regularly reviews the use of blockchain of cryptographic resources [it] He claims. "
Using Jupyter Notebook to extract data from Google's public data set for Ethereum, the company compiled a list of the most popular Ethereum smart contract addresses to see which DApps were gaining popularity among the community.
The results are in line with a common attitude among the community's most discerning and critical voices, namely that DApps are used for little more than speculation and token exchange. Of the 10 smart contracts that deserved SFOX's attention, only one was a tokenized use case that was neither an exchange nor an ICO contract.
In fact, the two most popular DApp were decentralized exchange contracts (DEX) for Ether Delta (now known as Forked Delta) and IDEX, respectively. As these data show, the two DEXs are hubs for token eter and ERC-20 negotiation, the most common token standard for the trading of Ethereum blockchain activities. Ether Delta has counted 10,354,398 transactions since its inception, while IDEX watches stood at 4,590,376.
In a show of irony, the third most popular smart contract was used to fund the main competitor of Ethereum, EOS. Before launching the main network in June 2018, the smart platform for EOS contracts held a continuous sale of tokens, an annual ICO that attracted billions of loans through 2,952,885 transactions. Two other ICOs of Ethereum, Tron and OmiseGo, also made the list with 1,967,331 and 1,350,274 transactions, placing the cryptocurrency platforms on the fifth and tenth, respectively.
The only intelligent contract on the list that does not provide for speculation or exchange infrastructure support comes in the form of what some have called "digital beanies". Depending on the angle you take, these could also be considered an investment vessel. CryptoKitties, a blockchain-based game for the trade, breeding and collection of digital cats, has seen 2,568,983 transactions since it was launched last November.
Built on the ERC-721 standard for non-fungible resources, each kitten is unique and shows off its distinctive traits. The game has attracted the headlines of the weeks since its release last year, as the enthusiasm for pixellated cats pushed the prices of some of the rarest kitties to tens of thousands of dollars. This frenetic request blocked the Ethereum network, increasing transaction times and costs.
The raids of speculation and innovation
The only other notable intelligent contract that made the SFOX list comes from Bitcoinereum, the so-called "first ERC-20 bitcoin mineable", which generated 1,451,763 transactions by paying mining premiums through the smart token contract. For the rest, the portfolio of Bittrex and Poloniex reserves the right to manage and exchange ether and token for over 5 million shared transactions.
Naturally, the Ethereum DApps are not the only DApps in use today. EOS has emerged as a powerful rival and, depending on the day, the platform exceeds Ethereum in the volume of transactions and users.
However, the cases of use on EOS are the same. If they are not used for the exchange, EOS tokens are used to enhance intelligent games or games on contract, two gaming applications shared with Ethereum, the number one competitor.
Although they harbor gambling habits and fuel speculation, these gaming DApps are full-fledged use cases. In correspondence with Bitcoin MagazineSFOX CEO Akbar Thobhani believes that "CryptoKitties is doing a great job, and it is clear that they continue to have traction".
But technology is still very much in its infancy, and the smart contracts in use today are far from those optimistic futurists claim that they will take out loans, stipulate legal contracts and treat everything from actions to personal data. As Thobhani said, "It is difficult to say anything particularly conclusive about the wider adoption of DApp" from the sample size, even though it represented the most widely used DApps to date.
These small steps are the preliminary amenities of an ambitious technology that is still learning to walk. But they are steps. Day after day, smart contracts and DApps continue to operate for the intended use cases, regardless of what niche or irrelevant these uses may be. They are laying the groundwork for a future that may take a long time as space grows, as developers will have many weaknesses to deal with, including security issues with smart contracts and scalability issues, before contracts smart ones become consumer and enterprise level for a mainstream audience.
So, until the future arrives, the shootouts of craps taken care of by tokens and the packs of digital cats will have to do for now.