This is the fourth in our 4-part series about Ethereum-killer platforms, featuring the QTUM platform.
We are looking at the top 4 Ethereum-killer platforms by market cap:
Qtum – this week
The usual Ethereum-killer platform narrative goes like this:
- Version 1 = Bitcoin = limited scripting language
- Version 2 = Ethereum = Turing complete “build whatever you like”
- Version 3 = Ethereum-killers = Turing complete done right.
If that narrative has any value, the developer view is critical. If developers like the platform today, investors and big institutions will be more likely to like the platform tomorrow. The developer view is forward-looking fundamental analysis (our focus at Daily Fintech).
In order to do a real comparison of these platforms, we assess all of them on the same 4 axes:
1. Transactional Scalability. In simple terms, how many Transactions Per Second (TPS)?
2. Security. No point in having high TPS if funds can be easily stolen/lost. There are usually trade-offs between 1 and 2.
3. Functional Scalability. How easy is it to build apps on this platform?
4. Developer enthusiasm. If you are not technical, it is hard to understand the arguments for and against 1,2 and 3, but a reasonable proxy is an active developer community and one way to see that is to look at activity on Github.
Introduction to QTUM: Pronounced Quantum, it is also known as a “Bitcoin-Ethereum Hybrid”. The official website says proclaims “Combining a modified Bitcoin Core infrastructure with an inter-compatible version of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), Qtum merges the reliability of Bitcoin’s unfailing blockchain with the endless possibilities provided by smart contracts.” Its infrastructure draws significantly from UTXO, which is the well-established transaction model of Bitcoin. Qtum, which is based in Singapore, focuses on being a stable and easy-to-use platform for business oriented use cases, as well as providing native support for mobile and IoT devices.
QTUM Scalability: Qtum incorporates a process called SegWit, which allows for faster-than-usual transactions. So that currently allows Qtum to support about 70 transactions per second (tps). That’s almost 5 times faster than Ethereum. In theory, however, the projected rate over the next year or two can be as high as 20,000 tps, with the help of lightning networks. Qtum also supports self-tuning, so as to handle scalability and security issues for short-term tasks. All of these make Qtum a very practical choice for mission-critical business applications.
QTUM Security: Qtum claims that it offers secure and thoroughly tested contract templates, so the platform has higher degrees of stability and is designed to minimize network breaks. Qtum has a test-driven approach for each of the platform features, to showcase their focus on business-oriented use cases. People at Qtum are putting a lot of thought in their platform’s security, and are working on platform’s independence and privacy. They’re working to minimize the effect of a single dApp’s downtime over the entire network. They are also thinking about incorporating a technique called zero-knowledge proofs to ensure higher levels of privacy. Also, it’s the only platform which uses proof of stake as it’s smart contracts solution, which makes more sense from an institutional security perspective.
QTUM Functional Scalability: It’s actually a pretty smooth experience to build apps on the Qtum platform. A key distinguisher for Qtum is that its infrastructure supports the Ethereum Virtual Machine, meaning that dApps which are built on Ethereum can run on Qtum without any modification. So, if a developer has experience building Ethereum dApps (which is very likely for a typical dApp developer, given the platform’s popularity), she doesn’t have to learn and get familiar with a different set of tools. She can simply port her dApp to Qtum. This gives Qtum a significant advantage over other “Ethereum killers” in terms of functional scalability. Moreover, the process of getting started with Qtum development is well-documented on GitHub.
QTUM Developer Enthusiasm: Again, since Qtum is compatible with Ethereum dApps, the platform’s popularity among developers is rising continuously. More and more newbie dApp developers are choosing Qtum as their first platform. The main GitHub repository has about 731 stars. But that’s still peanuts compared to Ethereum’s 14k stars. As of now, there are just a handful of dApps that the official site features. So just like other “Ethereum killers”, the developer enthusiasm is rising but is still in amateur phase.
Here’s a summary of all the Ethereum killer reviews we’ve done so far (the market cap reflects the values at the time of this writing):
|Name||Scalability||Security||Ease of Development||Developer Enthusiasm||Market Cap|
|Cardano||5-7 tps, expected to increase by 4 orders of magnitude if current development efforts are successful||Security a major focus, built with Haskell programming language which has out-of-the-box security||Has easy scripting language Plutus. However, the community isn’t as mature as Ethereum’s yet, so developers may not get enough support||Growing community and software documentation, lots of dApps deployed. Has ~2K GitHub stars||
|EOS||Asynchronous communication and parallel processing under development, can potentially do 100,000 tps||Denial of Service (DoS) attacks virtually impossible, only the entitled part of the network can be abused||Uses APIs via other languages like C, C++ which have lots of learning resources, yet are difficult, so not-so-easy development||Developers excited by lots of novel features. But lack of convenient tools holds them back. Has ~ 3.4K GitHub stars||
|Neo||Goes up to 340 tps. Does some centralization to increase scalability, can theoretically do 1000 tps with that||Is adopting quantum computing, more secure than current public-key encryption standard. Has regulations and digital identities involved to avoid fraud||Developers can use tools like C#, Java to build on Neo, no need to learn new tools, and has good documentation. Therefore good ease-of-development||Documentation slowly getting translated into English from Chinese may be a bottleneck. However, has strong community and ~2K GitHub stars||
|QTUM||~70 tps currently. SegWit process allows faster transactions. With lightning networks, can reach 20,000 tps||Claims that internal workings thoroughly tested, robust and strong for business use cases. Better isolation and privacy aspects under development||Use of EVM allows dApps to be transferred from Ethereum without modification, so has great ease of development. Also, good software documentation||Rising enthusiasm because of Ethereum compatibility proves good choice for newbie developers but has just ~730 GitHub stars||
Saurabh Chaturvedi is a freelance developer and technical writer with a keen interest in Blockchain, Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies.
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