Blockchain technology has led to the creation of entirely new industries, including cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and decentralized finance. At the same time, blockchains have opened up new opportunities for traditional industries to streamline their operations and reduce costs.
There are now dozens of competing blockchains, each with their own benefits and drawbacks for different applications. We’ll take a look at 6 of the most popular blockchains and what industries are using them.
1. Ethereum – Decentralized Finance
The introduction of the Ethereum blockchain in 2013 set the stage for the widespread blockchain development that’s taken place over the past decade.
This decentralized ledger was the first to introduce smart contracts, which enable an enormous range of automated, trustless transactions on blockchains. Ethereum also positioned itself as a friendly platform for developers, encouraging anyone who wanted to build on blockchains to come to Ethereum.
Today, the vast majority of decentralized apps (dApps) rely on Ethereum. There are even entire blockchains, like Polygon, that are designed primarily to integrate other blockchains with Ethereum.
One of the most important industries to emerge on Ethereum is decentralized finance (DeFi). Ethereum is home to DeFi apps like Maker, Curve, Compound, SushiSwap, Euler Finance, 1Inch, and many more. The blockchain has more than $23 billion in total value locked.
2. Cardano – NFTs
The development of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) was made possible by blockchains. These one-of-a-kind digital assets can represent artworks, memberships, or any other unique digital object.
As the largest blockchain, Ethereum is home to many NFT projects. However, the Cardano blockchain has positioned itself as a popular alternative for NFT creators and investors. Cardano is home to major NFT marketplaces like JPG Store, CNFT.IO, and Tokhun.
What makes Cardano a unique and appealing blockchain for NFT creators is that NFTs hosted on Cardano don’t require smart contracts. NFT creation is built right into the blockchain, reducing the potential for minting errors. Cardano also offers much lower transaction fees compared to blockchains like Ethereum.
3. Solana – Crypto Gambling
The online gambling industry has been quick to embrace blockchains. Crypto gambling offers advantages like faster deposits and withdrawals, reduced banking fees, and greater privacy for players compared to traditional online casinos and sportsbooks.
One of the most popular blockchains in bitcoin gambling is Solana. The appeal of Solana is that it’s optimized for ultra-fast processing. For casinos that offer high-resolution video slots or stream live dealer games around the clock, speed is critical to making sure that the player experience is seamless.
Solana also offers some of the lowest transaction fees of any blockchain. So, gambling sites and players can get the benefits of crypto gaming without losing significant amounts of money to blockchain fees.
4. IBM Blockchain – Supply Chains & Logistics
The IBM Blockchain was developed by technology giant IBM as a private blockchain that it could deploy at partner companies. Since it was developed by a widely known company rather than a group of decentralized developers, the IBM Blockchain has gotten traction from many traditional enterprise-scale companies.
It’s proven especially popular within the supply chains and logistics industry. Companies can use the IBM Blockchain to keep track of raw materials all the way from sourcing through manufacturing to what specific product they end up in. Logistics providers can use IBM Blockchain to track items from the moment they’re entered into the system.
The IBM Blockchain is designed to be flexible and scalable, and companies can lean on IBM’s expertise to help with deployment.
5. Hyperledger Fabric – Cybersecurity
Hyperledger Fabric is a public blockchain created by the Linux Foundation, the developers of the Linux operating system. It offers a similar architecture to the IBM Blockchain, but is open-source instead of private.
One of the key advantages to Hyperledger Fabric is that it can operate in closed deployments and enables users to isolate transactions in private data collections. These features make Hyperledger Fabric more secure and private, which explains why the blockchain has found proponents in the cybersecurity industry.
Two cybersecurity companies, Thales and DigiCert, have worked together on Hyperledger Fabric to introduce trustless security keys on the platform. A growing number of other cybersecurity companies are now turning to Hyperledger Fabric to run secure operations on the blockchain.
6. Ripple – International Finance
Ripple isn’t exactly a blockchain, but rather a consensus-based digital ledger. Importantly, this means that Ripple is a purpose-built solution rather than an open platform for development.
Ripple’s purpose is to facilitate global financial transactions. It’s designed to make it faster and cheaper to send money around the world and convert between currencies. With Ripple, international payments can take minutes to settle instead of days.
This ledger has been adopted by a number of traditional financial institutions, including Bank of America, PNC Bank, Santander Bank, and Standard Chartered Bank. Ripple has also been expanding its banking partnerships in Europe during the crypto winter.
Ripple is managed by The Ripple Foundation, a nonprofit organization, and is not fully decentralized.
Blockchain technology has thrown open the doors to a new era of software development. Blockchains can be used to create fully decentralized applications and to streamline operations in centralized industries. While Ethereum remains by far the most popular blockchain, chains like Cardano, IBM Blockchain, and Solana are widely used in specific industries.