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Ethereum’s innovations paved the way for an explosion of new blockchain projects, many of which are now vying for its top spot. New kid on the block EOS was hailed as one possible “Ethereum killer.” But the platform fell short last month when it launched to concern over email scams, network loopholes, and backroom politics. With dwindling confidence in EOS’ ability to overtake the king, we take a look at three projects capable of challenging Ethereum for the throne.

Ethereum ushered in a new era of blockchain. The advent of smart contracts and a framework for decentralized applications (DApps) showed the true potential of this technology beyond peer-to-peer payments — as the next-generation, decentralized internet.

But Ethereum’s limitations quickly became apparent. For it to rival its centralized counterparts in any use case — running high-volume apps, tracking thousands of shipments, securing millions of transactions — it would need to process data faster than its hard-coded limit of 15 transactions-per-second (TPS). Without increased capacity, many of Ethereum’s potential functions would simply grind to a halt at scale.

Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin has been working hard to increase the capacity of his network. But it seems unlikely he will get there before some of the companies that have been rising up to outstrip him. Ethereum’s innovations made it easier for blockchain companies to raise funds, meaning many of its competitors have serious resources behind them. Many of these are already showing promise in their potential to scale beyond Ethereum’s achievements.

It is no exaggeration to say that an arms race has been going on in the crypto world to become the next big platform. Here are the frontrunners — the cryptocurrencies that could soon challenge Ethereum’s central role in the blockchain space.

NEO (NEO)
Status: Mainnet live (launched 2016)
Token price: $34.18 USD

The NEO project has been called the “Ethereum of China,” and it is all about creating a “smarter economy.”

NEO utilizes digital identities to register, secure, and transfer assets. But it can also host DApps and run smart contracts, much like Ethereum.

This is a high-speed blockchain that scales with use. Currently running at around 1,000 transactions-per-second, predictions put it at around 100,000 TPS by 2020.

The team behind NEO is also responsible for the highly-publicized Ontology project, which was officially launched in June to extend support for enterprise.

After a rebrand from original name Antshares in 2017, the native NEO token has gone from strength to strength. The value of a single NEO is now over 300 times its price in January 2017, prior to the rebrand (currently at $34.18 USD).

The NEO marketcap is currently worth more than $2 billion USD. There are more than 65 million NEO tokens in circulation, with a total supply of 100 million.

NEO certainly boasts a capacity advantage on Ethereum, and its focus on digital identity features may make it a viable candidate for future governmental support. We’ll be watching to see how it leverages these features as it moves to widen its community.

ICON (ICX)
Status: Mainnet live (launched 2018)
Token price: $1.48 USD

Described on its website as a “blockchain network for a hyper-connected society,” ICON was designed to be a multi-use platform.

ICON offers DApp and smart contract capabilities. The Korea-based project positions itself as a high-capacity platform that can connect isolated blockchains by bringing them into a single network.

ICON’s current 9000 TPS gives it the capacity to process data at much higher volumes than Ethereum. And just like NEO, the system was built to grow with demand.

The ICON team is already working with companies and institutions at the core of social infrastructure including hospitals, securities firms, and universities.

After the launch of the mainnet at the beginning of 2018, the price of one ICX (the native ICON token) peaked at around $12 USD. A single ICX can now be purchased for around $1.48 USD.

The ICON market is currently worth over $570 million USD. At the time of writing, there are more than 387 million ICX in circulation, with a total supply of 400,228,740.

It’s still early days for the ICON platform but if the team behind it continues to secure partnerships with companies like Samsung, they are heading in the right direction. They are likely hoping ICX to show similar growth in value to NEO as the project progresses.

Internet of Services Token (IOST)
Status: Testnet live (launched 2018)
Token price: $0.021 USD

The Internet of Services Token (IOST) platform is vying to become the next-generation ecosystem for online services.

The project aims to secure data and lower transaction costs across various industries by providing a framework for high-throughput DApps and smart contracts.

At 8,000 TPS, the IOST testnet is already up there with NEO and ICON in terms of speed. After the mainnet goes live, it will scale up to 100,000 TPS, putting it in line to become one of the fastest blockchains.

Despite its early stage of development, IOST is already partnered with top exchange Huobi Pro and big-name venture capital firms Sequoia China and Zhenfund.

IOST’s low price and potential for growth have made it a favorite among “HODLrs” (long-term cryptocurrency investors). You can get your hands on one IOST for $0.021 USD, which makes it an ideal low-risk investment.

The IOST market is currently worth over $176 million USD. At the time of writing, there are more than 8 billion IOST in circulation, with a total supply of 21 billion.

IOST was recently named Best Blockchain Project of 2018, with CEO Jimmy Zhong also being awarded Best CEO. We’re excited to see how it closes the gap on other Ethereum-competitors in this list, with the IOST mainnet scheduled to launch late in 2018.

Into the Future 

As Ethereum works to improve its network, projects in various stages of maturation are building on the foundations it has laid.

NEO, having gained the moniker of “Chinese Ethereum,” may lack Ethereum’s headline-grabbing publicity. But it has a dedicated user base and has shown a sharp hike in value since the start of 2017 — ICON could show similar growth. IOST, though still in testing, is one of the most promising projects rising up the ranks to outstrip Ethereum, with a solid base of partners and committed investors.

It remains to be seen whether any of these coins will gain momentum at the right time in the market to scale beyond Ethereum’s established network of users, businesses, investors, and fans. What is clear is that blockchain technology is evolving beyond the developments made by the Ethereum team and that a new landscape of high-speed, distributed networks is on its way.


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