EOS, Cardano and Tezos are cryptocurrency’s big sleepers. The latter project has lain dormant since last summer while its legal troubles played out, while EOS and Cardano have been beavering away, but have yet to produce the goods. With signs that all three projects are now stirring into life, investors might finally see a return. The question is, which of these sleeping giants – if any – can lay a glove on Ethereum?
Ethereum’s Party Poopers Are Late to the Party
Assessing the merits of EOS, Cardano, and Tezos is impossible without assessing the merits of Ethereum. Its shadow looms large over the three projects, each of which is inexorably linked with Ethereum, the direct competitor they’re trying to topple. Tezos is bidding to be a better governed Ethereum, EOS is trying to be a faster Ethereum, and Cardano actually is Ethereum – sort of. Project founder Charles Hoskinson was an Ethereum co-founder and close advisor to Ethereum Classic. Oh, and Hoskinson also helped found Bitshares with Dan Larimer, who is now at EOS, but the two have since fallen out. More on that later.
The problem all three cryptocurrency projects are trying to solve can be lazily dubbed The Ethereum Problem. In terms of dominance and market capitalization, Ethereum is the runaway leader in the smart contract space. The vast majority of ICOs launch on it, and thousands of smart contracts, dApps, APIs, and cloud-based systems are integrated with it. Four times as many ethereum transactions (600,000) were completed in the last 24 hours as its nearest competitor, bitcoin. These figures paint a far rosier picture of Ethereum than is accurate however.
All of the big blockchains, whether denominated by market cap, usage, or brand recognition, have their problems. Ethereum’s include scalability (the number of transactions it can handle per second is pitifully low), security (smart contract bugs have caused the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars), scammy ICOs, over-centralization, and governance issues, exacerbated by some extremely contentious decisions that must be made. What should happen with the Parity millions that were lost for instance – should they be returned by changing the codebase, or left to languish? Such questions lead into murky legal territory, which has already led to the resignation of code editor Yoichi Hirai.
EOS, Cardano, and Tezos believe they can solve many of these problems, or better still, avoid making them in the first place, which is easy to say. Given that Tezos hasn’t even managed to govern itself, EOS seems more interested in amassing millions, and Cardano is so experimental that entire blocks are devoid of a single transaction, they’ve got their work cut out. Devising impressive figures in the lab for throughput or advancing innovative governance models is all well and good, but the measure of these projects will come when they’re unleashed into the rough and tumble of the cryptoverse, a place where things frequently break and slow to a crawl.
Contender 1: EOS
EOS has existed as only an ERC20 token thus far, but the mainnet is almost ready to launch, and exchanges such as Binance recently announced news of the EOS token swap. The irony of Dan Larimer’s Ethereum slayer piggybacking off its mortal enemy for the first six months of its life has not been lost. Speed and safe smart contracts are EOS’ USPs, with blocks produced every three seconds. Project architect Dan Larimer is a big believer in Dan Larimer, and is confident that his delegated Proof of Stake algorithm can blow Ethereum out of the water – and Cardano too.
Hoskinson and Larimer have been sniping at each other for months. After Larimer delivered a takedown of the consensus algorithm for Cardano, Hoskinson retorted: “[Larimer’s critique] can be summarized as evil Charles stole all my brilliant work and didn’t cite me. DPoS is better. Their math stuff validates me. Their stuff doesn’t work. Peer review is what I say it is. I’m a genius”. Miaow. Naturally, Dan Larimer is certain that EOS can smite Cardano, Ethereum, and any other smart contract platform that dares stand in its way.
Even if EOS can reach its reported speeds, the catch, as Store of Value blog explains, is that “it’s quite centralized and block producers need to run super high performance computers in order to meet EOS’s blockchain demands…There are significant centralization concerns with EOS. Block producers have tremendous power and the blockchain has weak mechanisms to replace any.”
Contender 2: Cardano
Due to the $1 billion+ it has raised, coupled with its grand promises, EOS is the biggest of the three projects, and even had a three-minute slot dedicated to it on John Oliver’s cryptocurrency report. The other two, Tezos and Cardano, are no slouches however, at least not if they can successfully launch and make good on their promises. Charles Hoskinson is widely regarded as a knowledgeable and passionate figure in the cryptocurrency space, and has earned praise for the blockchain research labs he’s set up in Athens and Edinburgh via Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK).
Cardano launched back in 2016, with most of the tokens going to Japanese investors, so less is heard, in the western hemisphere at least, from impatient token-holders clamoring for a release date. Many of its investors are holding heavy bags though, for like most cryptos, ADA, its native token, peaked in January, surpassing $1.20, but is now at a little over 20 cents. When the market turns, the projects with no MVP tend to get hit the hardest, and Cardano has felt the full effect of the slump. When it launches, its blockchain will support dApps, a governance model, and is aiming to strike a balance between privacy and regulation. Like EOS, Cardano, powered by its Ouroboros Proof of Stake algorithm, should be fast and scalable.
Contender 3: Tezos
EOS and Cardano haven’t been delayed as such: they’re just huge projects whose developers have been taking their sweet time. Tezos, on the other hand, would have launched months ago were it not for all the in-fighting and lawsuits. With Kathleen Breitman recently promising that the project will launch soon, there are hopes that Tezos might soon become known for its innovative governance system, as opposed to its ability to induce squabbling on a grand scale.
It’s been so long since anyone read the Tezos white paper that the particulars of what the project will offer have largely been forgotten. For the record, Tezos will – if it works – enable token-holders to dictate how the project is run and to play their part in improving it. It will have smart contracts, a delegated Proof of Stake algorithm, and a dual blockchain model. The governance system shares some similarities with Dash, while Michelson is its smart contract language which will allow for formal verification so developers can confirm their code is mathematically correct.
The Cardano beta is scheduled for Q1 of 2018 (so “soon”), though more advanced features won’t be introduced until next year, so it’s still very much a work in progress. The alpha build of EOS, named Dawn 3.0, is supposed to go live later in March, so also soon. Tezos has claimed it will be ready to launch in 2-4 months, so could be ready as early as May. Barring any more legal or technical delays, all three projects should be live and in use by summer. If any of the trio can launch a crippling blow to Ethereum, it’s likely to be EOS, but it’s also the most complex project, and thus there’s the potential for more to go wrong.
It will probably take at least a year before Cardano is in a position to position itself as an Ethereum alternative, whereas EOS and Tezos should reach full strength sooner. If Ethereum manages to solve its own problems in the meantime, Cardano, EOS, and Tezos may find themselves chasing the incumbent before they can kill it.
Do you think EOS, Cardano, or Tezos can realistically challenge Ethereum? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, EOS, Tezos, and Cardano.