Summary: Cardano is one of the top Layer 1 blockchains, launched in 2017 as a more efficient, scalable, and sustainable alternative to proof-of-work blockchains like bitcoin. To find out whether Cardano is a good long-term investment – along with its companion token, ADA – we researched the top projects building on top of it.
At Bitcoin Market Journal, we believe the top L1 blockchains will be among the best long-term crypto investments: think of them as the “operating systems” or “base layer” of crypto. We also believe that L1 leadership can be measured by the quality and quantity of projects building on top of these chains.
Today, Cardano is one of the biggest L1s, behind bitcoin, Ethereum, and BNB. As of this writing, the platform’s native token, ADA, has a market cap of around $15 billion, putting it in the top 10 cryptocurrencies.
That said, Cardano takes a slow and careful approach to development, making sure each update is extensively tested and peer-reviewed. While this means Cardano is slower to market, it also has time to study the weaknesses of other blockchains and fix these issues.
While Cardano was slow in adding smart contract functionality – it was only implemented in September 2021 – it has a leg up on other L1s in scalability and security, which is why many projects choose to use Cardano over Ethereum for their smart contracts.
Here are some of the leading smart contract projects on Cardano.
WingRiders is an automated market maker (AMM) decentralized exchange (DEX) powered by VacuumLabs, a highly-respected developer in the Cardano space.
It’s now the leading DeFi protocol on the Cardano blockchain in total value locked, holding 42.53% dominance of the chain with $134.3M locked. WingRiders allows investors to swap, stake, provide liquidity to pools, and deposit funds into yield farms.
The decentralized exchange has already brought many firsts to the Cardano ecosystem. It was the first to:
- Bring Ethereum and bitcoin to the blockchain.
- Bring stablecoins to Cardano.
- Offer stake pool voting, where liquidity providers can vote on which of their pools will stake ADA.
- Offer direct hardware wallet integrations.
- Integrate with 3rd party dapps.
WingRider’s governance token (WRT) allows token holders to vote on key decisions regarding the project’s development.
Minswap is a multi-pool DEX built on Cardano. It was the first multi-pool DEX on the blockchain, announcing its debut on the Cardano mainnet in March 2022.
Minswap’s multi-pool allows users to deposit liquidity in exchange for rewards in multiple crypto assets. Minswap offers various liquidity pools to enable users to route their trades through the most efficient pools. It later plans to turn this multi-pool trading feature into a DEX aggregator.
It also plans to develop features that will help the Cardano ecosystem as a whole, such as an IFO (Initial Farm Offering) launchpad that will allow other projects to safely launch tokens without having to worry about automated bots scooping up tokens instead of real users.
SundaeSwap is an automated liquidity provision protocol and decentralized exchange on Cardano that enables native token (SUNDAE) and ADA exchanges. Through SundaeSwap, users can stake, swap, lend, and borrow in a decentralized manner.
SundaeSwap uses AMMs, which create a liquidity pool consisting of two assets. Users help to create these pools by providing a balanced amount of two assets into the pool, from which an investor can submit a trade for one of the two assets in the pool. In turn, the price of both assets will increase or decrease, and a new market rate for both assets gets calculated. So, instead of filling a buy-or-sell order for another trader, the trader buys or sells directly within the pool.
SundaeSwap also operates on a permissionless, decentralized system, meaning the protocol is available for open use, and there are no restrictions on who can use the protocol. With internet access and a Cardano wallet, anyone can add or remove liquidity from a pool and swap crypto.
MuesliSwap was the first native, scalable DEX on Cardano, launching on the mainnet in November 2021.
MuesliSwap distinguishes itself from other trading approaches by the use of Cardano’s transaction model. This Extended UTXO model allows projects to use the order book model as a decentralized exchange. This means that MuesliSwap supports order limits, allowing you complete control over your investments.
MuesliSwap also offers low fees, fast transaction settlements, and protection against frontrunning.
Lending Pond allows users to take out ADA loans by posting an NFT as collateral. The NFT posted needs to be worth a certain percentage more than the ADA requested, so the loan is overcollateralized.
Borrowers can set their interest rates and degrees of over-collateralization, and lenders can review the offers and choose to finance deals they find acceptable. The NFTs are returned to the borrower once the loan is repaid on time.
This allows borrowers a unique way to leverage liquidity without the use of credit checks or KYC.
How many projects are building on Cardano?
Currently, over 1,000 projects are being built on the Cardano blockchain. The Cardano blockchain consistently outperforms its competitors, such as Ethereum, Solana, and Avalanche, in the number of Github commits per month. Github is a metric used to measure a blockchain network’s development activity.
Around 40% of the projects being built on Cardano are NFT projects, followed by social and community projects, and metaverse and gaming protocols.
Can Cardano Catch Ethereum?
Cardano has positioned itself as a promising alternative to Ethereum, but Ethereum continues to build its competitive moat, especially since its switch to Proof of Stake.
While progress on Cardano has been slow, it’s also been steady. The successful “Alonzo” upgrade in 2021 gave Cardano smart contract functionality. Next to roll out is the much-anticipated “Vasil” upgrade, which will boost the network’s performance and scalability. Vasil’s testnet rollout was a success, and it’s scheduled to go live on the mainnet this week.
Many exciting projects are being built on Cardano, but the most successful apps today are related to buying and selling tokens. Disappointingly, many look like Ethereum knockoffs (Muesliswap is really just Sushiswap in lederhosen).
As Cardano continues to deliver on its development roadmap, we hope to see more developers coming on board, developing a more diverse ecosystem of apps to attract more users. For now, we’ll pass on ADA.
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