The term smart contract was coined in 1997 to describe contracts that can be held and processed in a digital ledger.
What are smart contracts?
Simply put, smart contracts are just like tangible, everyday contracts, but they are completely algorithmic and programmed to execute automatically on a blockchain. In the world of crypto, smart contract assets run on their own networks which operate as foundations for people to perform transactions, build independent networks, and exchange a wide-variety of assets.
To use a commonly known comparison, let’s think of smart contract platforms like arcades. Arcade spaces serve a specific purpose–to have fun. In order to have fun at an arcade, you often need to use a currency specific to the business, like tokens. You use the arcade tokens to participate in their games and are sometimes given tickets as a reward for playing. Sometimes those tickets can be redeemed in their space for further rewards, benefiting you and the arcade simultaneously. In the same way, smart contract platforms give you an opportunity to explore their ecosystem, use their crypto to achieve your transactions, and even generate rewards, creating a symbiotic cycle.
Ethereum: the original smart contract platform
The goal of smart contracts is to improve upon the solely store-of-value concept of Bitcoin. Founders knew that there was more potential than just transacting digital stores of value, powered by mining from blockchain technology.
Ethereum (ETH), an altcoin that is often seen as encroaching on Bitcoin’s spot as the most dominant crypto-asset and the world’s most powerful virtual computer, is a prime example of a strong smart contract platform. The Ethereum network can currently perform 10-15 transactions per second and creates a network for software creators that allows them to build dApps (decentralized applications) on the Ethereum blockchain from anywhere using ETH as the required form of payment. It also allows users to participate in more typical financial activities than just buying and trading, like lending. However, Ethereum is still working out some kinks, as is demonstrated by the amount of gwei (hint: gwei is to ETH as satoshis are to BTC, or as pennies are to the dollar) which is the fee required to process transactions–commonly referred to as gas fees.
Newer, smaller competitors have taken note of these issues, such as high transaction fees, transaction times, and network congestion. Resulting offerings promise to solve these issues through new programming or more comprehensive, cutting-edge tech. Polkadot (DOT), a smart contract platform that aims to create a completely decentralized web, has announced the advent of its new parachain technology which should allow for more traffic and better speeds on their network, as well as a much smoother upgrade process.
With each future generation of smart contract platforms, they get faster, more efficient, offer a high-performance throughput and some even serve more custom cases. As the technology grows, so do the advancements and the promise of these smart contract blockchains.
Smart contract assets available to trade on Voyager
Cardano (ADA): a proof-of-stake blockchain platform, as well as the first to be founded on peer-reviewed research and developed through evidence-based methods. It combines pioneering technologies to provide unparalleled security and sustainability to decentralized applications, systems, and societies.
Algorand (ALGO): the world’s first pure proof-of-stake foundational blockchain designed for the future of finance. Beyond the elementary requirement of an open, public network, Algorand’s technology enables a set of high-performing, Layer-1 blockchains that provide security, scalability, complete transaction finality, built-in privacy, Co-Chains, and advanced smart contracts that are essential in a FutureFi world.
Celo (CELO): an open platform that makes financial tools accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. Its platform is decentralized, programmable, and customizable. Their open-source technology can be used to create a community of robust mobile applications, ranging from simpler cash transfers to peer-to-peer lending, global payments to digital assets, and wallets to help their communities grow and prosper.
Polkadot (DOT): DOT facilitates an internet where independent blockchains can exchange information and transactions in a trustless way via the Polkadot relay chain. The Polkadot network is created to multitask efficiently, have its own layer of dedicated and pre-programmed security for its users and, after its next update, process up to 1M tps (transactions per second).
Elrond (EGLD): a blockchain protocol that aims to provide extremely fast transaction speeds by using sharding (database partitioning). This includes fintech, DeFi, and the Internet of Things. The unique thing about Elrond, and its main selling point, is its high scalability.
Ethereum Classic (ETC): a decentralized computing platform that executes smart contracts. Applications are run exactly as programmed without the possibility of censorship, downtime, or third-party interference. After a fork of Ethereum due to a hacking incident in July 2016, the platform bifurcated, leading to ETC.
Ethereum (ETH): the Ethereum community is building a whole financial system that's peer-to-peer and accessible to everyone. The vast majority of altcoins are created and minted on the Ethereum blockchain via its smart contracts. Plus you can borrow, lend and earn interest on ETH and other ETH-backed tokens.
Hedera Hashgraph (HBAR): a decentralized public network where developers can build secure, fair applications with near real-time consensus. The platform is owned and governed by a council of global members including Avery Dennison, Boeing, Google and more. The Hedera Consensus Service (HCS) acts as a trust layer for applications and allows for the creation of an immutable and verifiable log of messages.
Icon (ICX): a blockchain protocol for decentralized applications. As an aggregator chain, it achieves interoperability—a web of interconnected networks aggregating all blockchain data into one layer. ICX currently boasts the highest reward for blockchain staking, but you must delegate the staked ICX to a Public Representative (P-Rep) in order to receive these rewards.
IOT (IOTA): IOTA has fundamentally reengineered distributed ledger technology, enabling the secure exchange of both value and data, without any fees. It is the first distributed ledger built for the “Internet of Everything”, and does so with no miners. When you send an IOTA transaction you validate two other transactions, which is good for cost and scalability.
Neo (NEO): Neo is unique in that it was the first public blockchain platform to adopt a dual token mechanism (NEO and GAS). It separates the rights of governance from the rights of using the network. The NEO network charges GAS for the operation and storage of tokens and smart contracts, preventing the abuse of node resources.
Ontology (ONT): an open source blockchain that specializes in digital identity and data. According to CoinMarketCap, Ontology's infrastructure supports cross-chain collaboration and Layer 2 scalability and has two distinct features: DDXF, a decentralized data exchange, and ONT ID, a mobile digital ID application.
Polygon (MATIC): Matic provides scalable, secure and instant transactions using sidechains based on an adapted implementation of Plasma framework for asset security and a decentralized network of Proof-of-Stake (PoS) validators. In short, it allows anyone to create scalable dApps while ensuring a superior user experience in a secure and decentralized manner.
Qtum (QTUM): an open-sourced public blockchain platform which leverages the security of UTXO while enabling multiple virtual machines including EVM and the revolutionary x86 VM. Qtum is PoS based and boasts a Decentralized Governance Protocol (DGP) allowing specific blockchain settings to be modified by making use of smart contracts.
Tron (TRX): a MainNet token based on the TRON Protocol issued by the TRON Foundation, known as TRX. TRX powers transactions and smart contracts on the TRON blockchain. TRX is also a natural medium currency for all TRC-based tokens. It connects the entire TRON ecosystem, with abundant application scenarios that power transactions and applications on the chain.
VeChain (VET): a public blockchain that derives its value from activities created by members within the ecosystem that solve real-world economic problems. VeChain specializes in using the power of blockchain to track supply chains throughout the world. VeChain helps verify the authenticity of goods while enhancing the flow of logistics tracking.
Stellar Lumens (XLM): an open-source network, Stellar makes it possible to create, send and trade digital representations of all forms of money—dollars, pesos, Bitcoin, pretty much anything. It’s designed so all the world’s financial systems can work together on a single network and is completely public.
Tezos (XTZ): an open-source platform for creating smart contracts and building decentralized applications. Different from other peer-to-peer networks, Tezos can evolve by upgrading itself. The self-amendment process allows Tezos to upgrade without having to fork the network into different blockchains. Tezos also prizes itself on being a green blockchain solution.
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