Blockchain 3.0: Beyond Bitcoin and First-Generation Distributed Ledgers, From Aion to Cardano, EOS and Zilliqa
Similar to the internet, which was at one point underrated in the early 1990s, it can be difficult to accurately predict the impact that blockchain technology will have on businesses in the coming decade. Regardless of the regulatory uncertainty, a handful of businesses are working relentlessly behind the scenes – building applications or streamlining an existing process in a bid to discover a use-case that derives value from a distributed ledger technology.
Despite the recent global financial turmoil paired with the pandemic stirred by the Covid-19 virus, the cryptocurrency industry is growing, despite market volatility. Developers around the world are building on blockchain and this trend is certainly not slowing down, as developers are embracing the constantly evolving technology. Just like running traditional IT solutions, there are several development phases for blockchain. We are currently in the third phase of innovation, blockchain 3.0.
The first generation of distributed ledgers, blockchain 1.0, was marked by Bitcoin, the digital currency that challenged the fundamental aspect of monetary centralization. Since then, the industry has been growing at exponential rates as BTC has brought the digital gold narrative back to life with enthusiasts regarding it as the most decentralized form of a digital asset class.
As much as it is a good thing, Satoshi’s network has been seeing bottlenecks; to the point where Bitcoin transactions take close to 10 minutes because of the congestion in transaction volumes. This was a huge setback, as Bitcoin’s scalability problem has limited the rate at which the Bitcoin network manages to process transactions, sparking a race among startups who have embarked on the quest to solve the nascent digital currency scalability problem.
Apart from financial transactions, blockchain 2.0 with the creation of cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum went beyond the complexities of mere payment settlement; but instead leveraged the possibilities of programmable money and smart contracts.The most popular platform in this niche is Ethereum which was released back in 2013 and has since become the de facto platform for decentralized applications (DApps) and smart contracts.
The next wave was led by accelerated innovation that will likely strain one’s imagination when thinking about all the possibilities that DLT has to offer. With smart contracts that can be coded directly into a transaction, developers could further utilize the technology beyond its initial intended use-case. Despite being an advancement, blockchain 2.0 exhibited some shortcomings which are set to be addressed by the latest and next generation of distributed ledger protocols.
Blockchain 3.0 is said to be the future of DLT, and blockchains that fall under this category are optimized and designed from the ground up to overcome challenges faced by previous-generation blockchains. With emphasis on governance, enhancing privacy and security, interoperability, sustainability, and scalable ecosystems, blockchain 3.0 is set to be taking DLT development to the next level.
A number of projects have since popped up, including notable platforms like EOS, Cardano and Algorand which came into existence to address critical areas of focus: scalability, security and decentralization. Given the diverse priorities in feature specialization, a variety of models exist, but all the projects mentioned in this list will fit the criteria of a blockchain 3.0. This article further highlights and ranks the leading nine blockchain 3.0 platforms to watch out for in 2020.
List of 9 Blockchain 3.0 Projects in 2020
This project offers ‘third generation features’ and consists of a multi-tier blockchain system designed to address privacy and transparency, scalability and interoperability. Aion is a native digital cryptocurrency behind the ‘’Open Application Network’’, an initiative launched to bridge the gap between independent blockchains. Corporates and public entities can leverage Aion’s platform to share data via the Ethereum network, build scalable ecosystems for processing transactions, and customize their own networks while maintaining interoperability with other blockchains.
Apart from its range of products, Aion has stood the test of time in this volatile market and has been hailed for offering a feasible solution in regards to connecting independent and isolated blockchains together. Many projects died along the way but this one is proving to be a game changer in the blockchain 3.0 space, as the whole mission behind the project looks to interconnect thousands of blockchain networks in the near future. The idea of establishing a network among independent blockchains is a unique value proposition that Aion can bring to the table and what sets it apart from competitors.
A high-performance blockchain that leverages a new ‘pure proof-of-stake’(PPoS) protocol as consensus algorithm. The firm’s founder, Silvio Micali, is a Turing award winner and one of the leading researchers behind ‘’zero-knowledge proof’’, a popular cryptography protocol that lays the foundation for some of the established blockchain-based networks and is considered to be a breakthrough in modern day cryptography. Led by one of the crypto space’s most influential visionaries, Algorand continues to stand out from the crowd due to the sheer credibility of its founder and team.
Recent developments such as the launch of co-chain architecture and advanced layer 1 functionality have made Algorand’s blockchain an appealing option among enterprises seeking to make use of both a permissionless and permissioned network. With the co-chain architecture, Algorand is now classified as a hybrid platform that allows businesses to launch an independent blockchain with its own consensus mechanism and set of validators.
Algorand 2.0, the latest protocol version, accommodates various functionalities for business integration. Most notably is the layer-1 fundamental; this facilitates asset tokenization, atomic transfers, and smart contract creation. The team continues to develop Algorand’s layer-1 with the goal of improving scalability. Algorand’s hybrid and high performance blockchain has gained the likes of corporations, governments and banks around the globe and to date has secured a high-level partnership with the government of the Marshall Islands in a bid to launch the world’s first central bank digital currency (CBDC). Both the world’s number one decentralized exchange (IDEX) and stablecoin (USDT) are now utilizing Algorand’s blockchain infrastructure to their advantage, benefiting from a truly permissionless blockchain that’s capable of handling resource-extensive resources and applications.
Using a methodical scientific approach, Cardano is another blockchain 3.0 that supports and facilitates smart contract creation among other major functions. The IOHK project is an open source blockchain network supported by three organizations: the Cardano Foundation, IOHK and Emurgo. The team behind Cardano seeks to establish a scalable environment that also encompasses blockchain interoperability and security while keeping the costs low. Unlike Bitcoin and Ethereum, Cardano’s network is built with a vision of the future as it mostly focuses on research and peer reviews prior to launching. This has made Cardano one of the most active projects in terms of developments, a healthy sign as developers’ efforts are improving Cardano’s blockchain over time.
In addition, Cardano has a unique governance model system in place that sets it apart from the competition. Aside from this, the Cardano team has been working on establishing a sustainable revenue model where profit generated will be allocated towards growing the ecosystem and maintaining the network. It is also noteworthy that this blockchain 3.0 innovation enjoys the backing of IOHK; this body has been a major driving factor that has helped startups secure early funding and encourages community participation.
As mentioned earlier, the main focus of EOS is scalability, a function that both Bitcoin and Ethereum are immensely struggling with. Raising a staggering $4 billion during a yearlong initial coin offering and prior to launching its product, EOS managed to generate a lot of hype back in 2018. EOS aims to establish an ecosystem where blockchain networks can integrate and maintain data privacy.
The platform further leverages smart contracts in order to execute transactions in a timely fashion and designed to support resource intensive applications. It has been noted that EOS block producers are highly centralized due to the limited amount of block producers, and users can only access the network using block producers as intermediaries – a single point of failure for the entire system. However, the trade off is that the EOS blockchain seeks to become the de facto platform for high-performance decentralized applications.
Just like Cardano, EOS enjoys a first mover advantage with its native token currently sitting in the top 10 in terms of crypto market capitalization. EOS’s proposition as a third-generation blockchain has so far been fruitful, although only mass adoption will quantify a full breakthrough.
This South Korean blockchain project seeks to ‘Hyperconnect the World’ through distributed ledgers. ICON has evolved since its inception and there’s plenty of development taking place behind the scenes with user-friendly applications and services running on the ICON network. It was the launch of ICON mainnet version 3.0 that laid the foundation of the infrastructure dubbed ‘’Score’’ which the ICON Foundation uses to create DApps on the ICON platform. Catering to a wide variety of sectors such as domestic banking, securities, insurance, education and e-commerce, the ICON network is built using the project’s Loopchain technology. The main value proposition of ICON is to provide a platform where each participant can coexist and transact on a single network – interoperability among blockchain networks.
Participants can run their own distributed ledger on different ecosystems but will still be able to communicate with each other, as part of a unified ICON ecosystem. The native token ICX token basically fuels the network. One of the world’s leading authorities on innovation, media and business, Don Tapscot and his team see ICON’s vision of scaling the real world through mass collaboration and decentralization. Several prominent stakeholders such as the blockchain Interoperability Alliance, Pantera, and Kenetic Capital have since partnered with ICON. Based on the project’s strategy, ICON is one the few blockchain 3.0 solutions to have gained traction in Asia, particularly in South Korea where the project has a foothold in the country, leading Korea’s blockchain ecosystem in terms of securing several high-level partnerships with governments bodies and the private sector.
Previously called Raiblocks, Nano is a network that leverages blockchain 3.0 fundamentals to deliver an all-round environment for exchanging the value of digital assets. Built with a block-lattice structure, Nano is designed in such a way that it allows for fast transactions and benefits immensely from infinite scalability while requiring minimum resources to run. The grand vision behind Nano is to replace fiat currency and revolutionize blockchain by delivering zero-fee transactions in real-time without the setbacks faced by more work-intensive cryptos such as Bitcoin. By replicating the model of Bitcoin, Nano seeks to take scalability to the next level by not merely reducing transaction fees but by essentially getting rid of charges. The platform’s integration and development options particularly stand out for tech savvy blockchain stakeholders.
The team behind Nano was able to achieve this through its range of wallets and benefited immensely from a popular airdrop campaign. The firm’s chief executive officer and founder, Colin LeMahieu, is assisted by George Coxon as the chief operating officer, among other members. Operating differently than its peers, Nano is a contender in the space given that its network is designed to be eco-friendly as no minting or mining is required – an advancement that could be considered beyond blockchain 3.0.
Neblio is an open-source business solution for business startups and enterprises. A leading enterprise blockchain platform made possible with Neblio’s lightning fast and scalable blockchain, APIs, NTP1 Token Protocol, and unique set of tools. This makes it easy for businesses to deploy their own blockchain and distributed ledger technology to radically improve efficiency and security and to deploy DApps
This blockchain network capitalizes on the open Finance agenda when it comes to distributed ledgers, as Wanchain intends to replace the global legacy banking system. The whole idea is to create a Multi-blockchain financial superhub that relies on cutting-edge advanced interoperability as an essential feature. The concept is similar to how Wide Area Networks (WAN) connected Local Area Networks (LAN) but using cross-chain blockchain infrastructure to facilitate asset transfer and deploy DApps for the finance sector. Wanchain seeks to link private, public and enterprise blockchains to allow the flow of digital data using the WAN token for block rewards, transaction fees, and node staking.
With the evolution to blockchain 3.0, Wanchain has proven its ability to provide a scalable, sustainable and interactive platform for token enthusiasts. This innovation has attracted developers looking to build DeFi, connected enterprise blockchains, and cross-chain mobile payments. Aside from currency transfer, Wanchain is proving to be a real contender in terms of supporting high-level smart-contract capabilities and privacy protection. Aside from working with big names that are part of the Ethereum ecosystem, Wanchain was a pioneer project to create a bridge between Bitcoin and Ethereum, allowing for cross-chain transaction capability between the two and more blockchain networks.
Zilliqa is a cryptocurrency project that aims to make blockchain more efficient, scalable and fast with the help of sophisticated sharding technology that can streamline the consensus process. This project began with research conducted by the National University of Singapore and debuted as a live platform back in early 2019. The platform’s unique sharding capabilities allow users to scale their blockchain networks in a linear orientation. This blockchain project also features a consensus mechanism that is designed to be eco-friendly by reducing the mining duration and resources going into this process. Not a typical PoW blockchain, ZIL is mined using a hybrid proof-of-work consensus protocol but was designed from the ground up to be extremely scalable by implementing sharding on its mainnet.
Receiving contributions from over 20 countries and close to 60 project teams, Zilliqa is a notable contender in a race to beat Ethereum, the world’s most dominant DApp platform. Securing several high level partnerships such as Xfers, which leverages their blockchain tech to increase transparency and reduce costs within its payment engines, Zilliqa is the first sharding blockchain concept to gain traction – learning from past mistakes of blockchain 2.0 projects and offering a better alternative for offchain and sidechain solutions.
The blockchain industry is known for its fast-changing nature. As of the press date, some projects are already onto blockchain 4.0. This next level of blockchain tech is speculated to be a combination of AI and distributed ledgers. However, things may take a different turn if blockchain 3.0 solves scalability, interoperability, sustainability and privacy issues unlike previous generation blockchain 1.0 and 2.0 projects that have struggled to overcome the existing barriers.
Seeing that these are the most immediate issues that need to be solved and, furthermore, adopted, it would make more sense to build on this tech as opposed to complicating matters with AI in the mix. Blockchain 3.0 projects are upgraded versions designed to improve blockchain technology capabilities and solve major existing problems. At the current phase that we are at, new and improved blockchain solutions are being re-designed and built to bring cryptocurrency to the masses.