Top smart contract platforms:

a selection guide

Top smart contract platforms:
 a selection guide

February 13, 2024

Top smart contract platforms we use

While enterprises can potentially experiment with new technologies in pilot projects launched from scratch, using the existing blockchain platforms that support smart contracts is more practical.

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

Ethereum

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

EVM

Solidity

Yes

Public

Proof of Stake

Up to 100,000

Polkadot

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

PEE

Depends on a selected chain

Depends on a selected chain

Depends on a selected chain

Nominated Proof of Stake

Depends on a selected chain and conditions, up to 1 million

Hyperledger

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

Docker

JavaScript Go

Yes

Permissioned

Pluggable (e.g. Crash Fault Tolerance)

Depends on the use case, up to 3,500

Tezos

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

TezosVM

Michelson

Yes

Permissionless

Liquid Proof of Stake

40, up to 1 million after upgrades and rollups

Stellar

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

Docker

Net Scala C++ Go

No

Consortium

FBA

1,000, up to 4,000 in ideal conditions

Solana

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

Sealevel Runtime

Rust C

Yes

Public

Proof of History and Proof of Stake

5,000 - 10,000, up to 710,000 in ideal conditions

Cardano

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

Ouroboros

Plutus Haskell

Yes

Public

Ouroboros Proof of Stake

250, up to 2 million using L2

Tron

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

Tron Virtual Machine

Solidity TVM Assembly

Yes

Public

Delegate proof of Stake

Up to 2,000

Polygon

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

Ethereum Virtual Machine

Solidity

Yes

Public

Proof of Stake

Up to 7,200

Algorand

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

Algorand Virtual Machine

TEAL PyTeal

Yes

Public

Pure Proof of Stake

Up to 4,500

Arbitrum

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

EVM

Solidity

Yes

Public

Optimistic Rollup

Up to 40,000

Optimism

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

EVM

Solidity

Yes

Public

Optimistic Rollup

~ 2,000

Cosmos

Execution environment

Smart contract language

Turing completeness

Permission type

Consensus

TPS

Cosmos SDK

Rust (via CosmWasm)

Yes

Public

Tendermint

Depends on a selected chain

Ethereum is the world’s first and one of the best smart contract platforms which remains the most popular choice among developers. Following Bitcoin's decentralized concept, Ethereum has become a leader in smart contract platforms. Since its inception in 2015, the platform has launched more than 4,400 dApps. The most apparent advantages of Ethereum’s smart contract platform are standardization, security, and support. Due to eloquently written rules, clearly defined development guidelines, and its own coding language, Solidity, deploying smart contracts and Dapps on the platform has proven to be comparatively easy. Ethereum is also superior to any other smart contract platform in terms of developer count (~200,000), making its development community one of the most flourishing and responsive ones. The sheer popularity of Ethereum and high user loads incentivized developers to build multiple scaling solutions like Arbitrum and Optimism on top of the mainnet.

Pros
Active community Elaborate documentation Clear development guidelines The largest market capitalization among SC platforms
Cons
Above average gas fees Network congestion
Examples

Golem
A decentralized marketplace for renting unused computing power to other network participants

BP
Automating and facilitating energy trading between consumers and producers with smart contract functionality

Hyperledger was founded in 2015 by the Linux Foundation and 30 co-founding corporate members, including industry giants like IBM, J.P. Morgan, Cisco, Intel, and others. Hyperledger Fabric is a permissioned blockchain, meaning that user authentication is required and participants’ identities are known. This makes Hyperledger especially attractive for enterprises that deal with sensitive data and need to comply with data protection laws like the GDPR.

Hyperledger Fabric uses a Crash Fault Tolerance (CFT) mechanism, making it one of the most reliable networks. With CFT in place, the system can automatically detect node crashes and replace them, significantly reducing downtime. One of the most distinctive Hyperledger features is its modular architecture, allowing organizations to develop solutions for various industrial use cases. Similar to Ethereum, Hyperledger offers a wide array of tools, such as Hyperledger Composer, that streamline smart contract creation and deployment.

Pros
Permissioned blockchain suitable for enterprises High throughput thanks to crash fault tolerance
Cons
Lack of decentralization Limited public adoption
Examples

Walmart

Enhancing supply chain traceability and product tracking and reducing the risk of spoiled products reaching customers

Change Healthcare
Secure sharing of medical records and claims data between healthcare institutions

Polkadot was created by Ethereum co-founder and Solidity creator Gavin Wood. It is more of a blockchain ecosystem where various platforms are connected to each other rather than a distributed ledger in the traditional sense. Relay Chain lies at the core of Polkadot and ensures interoperability between various parachains and parathreads, allowing developers to build their own blockchains with custom governance.

Due to parallel processing enabled by parachains, Polkadot has high scalability. Polkadot functionality also includes bridge chains for connecting parachains to external blockchains like Ethereum. Polkadot has gained traction with developers as it offers software development kits (SDKs) and preconfigured templates, as well as supports many popular programming languages, including JavaScript.

Pros
Rich development toolkit with SDKs and templates Easily interoperable Highly scalable
Cons
A limited number of parachains available Complex architecture
Examples

Acala
Fostering DeFI interoperability across multiple popular smart contract platforms

Kilt Protocol
Enabling decentralized identity management and facilitating control of personal data

Founded in 2017 by Arthur Breitman, Tezos addresses first-generation blockchain challenges, notably avoiding protocol forks, with a unique combination of on-chain governance and self-amendments. This approach facilitates organic growth and continuous improvement driven by stakeholder consensus.

Tezos is recognized as one of the most secure smart contract platforms because it uses formal verification, meaning that every smart contract is audited before deployment. Such a large-scale audit is possible because the code is written in Michelson, Tezos’ own programming language, and can be easily mathematically proven. This makes Tezos smart contracts especially useful for industries requiring exceptional accuracy in smart contract execution, such as finance and healthcare.

Pros
On-chain governance Formal verification
Cons
Lack of developer tools Smaller network
Examples

Logical Pictures
Tokenizing the film industry, allowing investors to purchase a part of the ownership

French Armies and Gendarmerie’s Information Center
Validating and recording judicial expenses incurred during investigations

Elevator Returns and River Plaza
Tokenizing real estate, allowing investors to purchase a portion of properties’ ownership rights

Stellar was launched by Jed McCaleb, who is also one of the Ripple founders, in 2014. Initially positioned as a platform primarily focused on financial transactions, Stellar has significantly broadened its scope in 2022 with the introduction of Soroban, its native smart contract platform. Soroban has been designed as an inviting environment for smart contract development, providing a range of plug-and-play SDKs, a local sandbox, and an RPC server. Scalability is one of Soroban's main priorities. The platform avoids serialization loops, which are repetitive processes where data is processed in a sequential order, causing delays and inefficiencies. On top of that, Soroban also supports multi-core scaling, which allows it to avoid state bloat, one of the most common blockchain challenges. Security is covered with the help of the partnership with Certora, a security firm that uses formal verification as its main method.

Pros
High-quality developer tools High TPS Built-in DEX for asset trading platforms
Cons
Small developer community Lacks decentralization
Examples

IBM World Wire
Facilitating cross-border payments through smart contracts

SureRemit
Automating, streamlining, and lowering the cost of the remittance process

Chaincerts

Streamlining the verification of digital credentials and eliminating fraud-related challenges.

Solana was created by A-list software engineers from Intel, Dropbox, and Qualcomm in 2017. Similar to other new-generation smart contract platforms, Solana aims to solve scalability issues. Indeed, Solana has managed to achieve a record-high 65,000 transactions per second. The main reason for such a high throughput is that Solana uses an innovative combination of Proof of History (PoH) and Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus mechanisms. In other words, instead of transactions grouped in blocks, every transaction resides inside its own block and becomes an input for the next transaction.

This way, it’s possible to identify which transactions were the first or last within a particular block. Moreover, with Solana’s Sealevel technology, smart contracts can be processed in parallel. Therefore, Solana is one of the fastest platforms on the market, which makes it attractive for Dapps that require instant outputs. Given its unprecedented scalability and transaction speed, Solana can be a good fit for a massive decentralized exchange or any other project that needs consistent performance regardless of the network load.

Pros
High TPS A range of built-in frameworks and SDKs
Cons
Stability issues Network congestions Centralization concerns
Examples

Audius
Increasing transparency and automating content distribution

Serum
Fast and efficient cryptocurrency trading (DEX)

Polygon, the former Matic Network, is a Layer-2 scaling solution based on Ethereum that allows for faster and cheaper transactions than its mainnet. With the help of Proof of Stake side chains and a modified version of the Plasma framework, Polygon significantly increases transaction speeds without compromising security.

Polygon also prioritizes environmental sustainability, achieving carbon neutrality by retiring carbon credits. In a nutshell, Polygon can fit projects that need the reliability of Ethereum but require enhanced scalability and network efficiency.

Pros
High TPS Low transaction fees Seamless compatibility with Ethereum
Cons
Inherits all the limitations of an Ethereum L2 solution, including security dependency on mainnet, centralization concerns, and decreased liquidity Could be vulnerable to hackers
Examples

Aavegotchi
A decentralized game leveraging NFTs and DeFi concepts

QuickSwap
A decentralized exchange offering fast and low-cost trading

Tron was launched in 2017 and positioned as a content-sharing platform from its inception. Some of the most apparent Tron advantages are a wide range of developer tools and high transaction throughput, up to 2000 TPS, attracting gaming and social media app developers to the platform. Tron employs a Delegated Proof of Stake consensus algorithm, ensuring improved scalability.

Pros
High TPS Wide range of developer tools
Cons
Lacks decentralization
Examples

BitTorrent
Leveraging blockchain for decentralized file sharing

JUST
A decentralized finance platform offering stablecoins and lending services

Founded by one of Ethereum’s co-founders in 2017, Cardano was created as a response to scalability and regulatory compliance issues other blockchain networks faced. Cardano differentiates itself from the competition by employing a research-driven approach and a peer-review process for its updates, meaning that verified experts in cryptography, computer science, and blockchain technology evaluate the proposed changes before deployment.

While it can slow down the blockchain development process, this calculated approach significantly enhances security. Cardano uses its own Ouroboros PoS, offering more energy efficiency and sustainability than many other blockchains.

Pros
Highly secure Efficient energy management Academically-backed update processes
Cons
Slow development process Lacks the number of use cases
Examples

Atala PRISM
An identity management tool providing access to services for the unbanked

Wolfram Blockchain Labs
Providing computational tools and oracle services for analytical tasks

Launched in 2019 by cryptography guru Silvio Micali, Algorand is a blockchain platform that is posed to tackle the blockchain trilemma and achieve speed, security, and decentralization simultaneously. It uses the state-of-the-art Pure Proof of Stake (PPoS) consensus mechanism, which allows for high TPS with minimal energy consumption.

Algorand is powered by its own Algorand Virtual Machine, allowing it to support smart contracts written in TEAL (Transaction Execution Approval Language). This, in turn, allows for creating scalable and rather complex smart contract applications, while maintaining the highest level of security.

Pros
High TPS, low fees High security thanks to PPoS Carbon-neutral
Cons
Comparatively small community Limited use cases
Examples

Six Clovers
Enabling fast and transparent cross-border payments

Colombian healthcare authorities and Koibanx
Implementing Vitalpass, a blockchain-based COVID vaccine passport system

Cosmos is an ecosystem of interconnected blockchains that relies on the innovative Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol for interoperability. The smart contract functionality is enabled by Cosmos SDK, a modular framework that allows developers to build customizable smart contracts using the Golang programming language.

Cosmos uses a byzantine fault tolerant consensus mechanism called Tendermint Core, which also powers one of the most scalability-demanding exchanges, Binance and Binance Smart Chain (BSC).

Pros
High interoperability Easy development with the help of Cosmos SDK
Cons
Comparatively small community Limited use cases
Examples

Binance Smart Chain (BSC) and OKChain
Some of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges

Akash Network
Tendermint-based P2P cloud computing solution

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How to choose a smart contract platform?

Making an informed decision about a smart contract platform is one of the most important steps toward achieving tangible results with smart contract development. As the business landscape is becoming more aware of smart contract potential, blockchains are evolving. While Ethereum remains the most recognizable platform in this field, its competitors are constantly coming up with new, unique features that attract investments.

The reason why new smart contract platforms are constantly emerging and established platforms are continuously updated is that it’s virtually impossible to maximize all of the three most important properties of smart contract platforms: scalability, security, and decentralization.

Scheme title: Blockchain Trilemma
Data source: chain.link — Smart Contract Platforms, 2023

Scalability
the number of computations the network can process per second

Security
the amount of resources required to corrupt network consensus

Decentralization
the number of full nodes participating in the network

Blockchain Trilemma

All smart contract platforms have to prioritize two properties at the expense of the remaining one. So, to understand which smart contract platform would be best for your particular use case, you need to understand which trade-offs you can make. Let’s explore how it works through real-life examples:

Scalability + Security - Decentralization

If you have an online marketplace for trading digital assets, high TPS and security are paramount. This is exactly why IBM uses Stellar, the non-Turing complete platform, for its global payments network called World Wire. Stellar addresses the gap in decentralization by allowing all participants in the network to run a node.

Scalability + Decentralization - Security

If you have a DeFI application that requires handling large amounts of transactions every second, high TPS and decentralization are crucial. This is why Binance, the world’s most renowned crypto exchange, uses its own Binance Smart Chain (BSC) platform. BSC relies on a consensus mechanism that requires a comparatively small number of validators, allowing for lightning-fast transaction speed. BSC tackles security concerns with strict measures for becoming a validator, regular smart contract audits, and bug bounty programs.

Decentralization + Security - Scalability

If you have a social media network that calls for a high level of personal data security and user empowerment, security and decentralization become top priorities. Minds, an open-source and decentralized social networking platform with a token-based reward system, uses Ethereum, a highly secure and decentralized blockchain that is somewhat limited in its scalability. If scalability becomes an issue, Minds can always opt for high-TPS L2 solutions built on top of the mainnet, allowing it to use the benefits of the Ethereum ecosystem.

Other smart contract platform properties to consider

After narrowing down the list of possible smart contract platforms with the help of the Blockchain Trilemma, we suggest considering the following properties:

Compliance

Applications in the financial sector and data-sensitive industries like healthcare can benefit from a smart contract platform that embeds regulatory compliance into its structure. For example, financial institutions often opt for a permissioned blockchain platform like Hyperledger Fabric to streamline compliance with data privacy laws.

Developer ecosystem

A vast amount of resources, tutorials, custom libraries and frameworks, oracles, and testing tools can significantly lower the development time and cost.

Transaction speed & costs

Applications that require real-time interactions, like gaming platforms or massive asset exchange platforms, are usually built on blockchains with low transaction fees and high TPS.

Interoperability

If interoperability with other networks is vital, it makes sense to use platforms like Polkadot to ensure seamless integration with external networks.

Our blockchain services

We help enterprises to develop blockchain-based solutions, enabling process automation and secure data sharing.

Our blockchain services

Our blockchain experts are ready to develop smart contract-based solutions within a blockchain network most suitable for your needs. From asset exchanges to supply chain systems, we cover the full scope of smart contract development, including post-launch support and maintenance.

We carefully analyze your requirements and provide in-depth technical advice on how to approach blockchain-based solution implementation and select the optimal blockchain platform for your specific use case.

The Itransition team thoroughly assesses security protocols, encryption methods and smart contract logic to ensure that your solution is safe and secure. We also stress-test your solution to evaluate its fraud-tolerance and make the necessary adjustments to reinforce the system.

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Smart contracts are the future of business relationships

Choosing a blockchain platform as the basis for your smart contract app is paramount yet challenging. For example, building a complex IoT-connected insurance Dapp on Stellar would be as ineffective as trying to deploy a public cryptocurrency exchange on Hyperledger Fabric. Therefore, expert consulting can help to ensure platform suitability and squeeze the most out of Dapp and smart contract development. Here, at Itransition, we believe in the unprecedented power of smart contract platforms to make contractual agreements between parties as transparent and efficient as ever before. Our blockchain experts are constantly on the lookout for new ways to streamline and automate business processes with smart contracts. If you are looking for a reliable smart contract development partner, we are ready to guide you through the whole journey, from ideation to deployment and maintenance.

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