Ethereum vs Cardano | A Comparison of Two Dominant Dapp Platforms
Ethereum and Cardano are two of blockchain’s most recognizable decentralized application (dApp) platforms. Often part of the same conversation, both projects utilize smart contracts to expand the value of blockchain technology beyond simple transactions – albeit in vastly different ways.
Founders from both projects, Vitalik Buterin of Ethereum and Charles Hoskinson of Cardano, make their opinions well-known and have active Twitter lifestyles. If you’ve been involved with cryptocurrency for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard about either founder at least once.
Less well known, though, is the shared history of these two projects. Before we examine the similarities and differences of the cryptocurrencies, let’s take a walk down memory lane to where they both began.
Ethereum vs Cardano – A Chance Encounter
Buterin and Hoskinson met through the Bitcoin Education Project, a creator of online Udemy courses that Hoskinson started after leaving a career in consulting. After meeting, Hoskinson received one of Buterin’s first Ethereum white paper drafts, which actually began as an outline for a Primecoin overlay protocol. From there, Hoskinson joined Ethereum as co-founder along with Buterin and six other individuals.
Hoskinson and Buterin worked together for about six months before parting ways.
A Difference in Opinion
The split really came down to one ideological difference: for-profit or non-profit. Buterin and the majority of the other founders argued that Ethereum should remain a non-profit project avoiding venture capital fundraising. Hoskinson thought otherwise.
He believed that they should accept venture capital money. However, with that, the team would need to implement some type of governance and figure out a road to profitability. As you now know, the team opted for the non-profit status.
Six months after leaving, Hoskinson partnered up with another Ethereum co-founder, Jeremy Wood, to form IOHK (Input Output Hong Kong), the company behind Cardano.
Ethereum vs Cardano – Differences
At their core, both projects are meant for dApp development and smart contracts. However, the similarities end there. From consensus mechanisms to architecture, the two blockchains differ significantly.
Right now, Ethereum uses Proof-of-Work (PoW) to maintain the network. This won’t last forever, though. The Ethereum community is planning to switch to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) sometime soon. Casper, Ethereum’s new PoS algorithm, is an attempt to solve many of the scaling issues that plague the blockchain.
Before going completely PoS, Ethereum will temporarily implement a PoW/PoS hybrid for consensus. But after the new PoS mechanism proves stable, the developers will detonate a “difficulty time bomb” effectively making Ethereum impossible to mine.
Cardano also implements Proof-of-Stake but utilizes the Ouroboros algorithm. It works like this:
- Slot leaders verify transactions and create blocks.
- If you hold Cardano’s coin, ADA, you qualify to become a slot leader. It doesn’t matter how much you own.
- To become a slot leader, the “Follow the Satoshi” algorithm needs to select a coin you own.
- The network does all of this manually, so there’s no additional work that you need to perform.
Ethereum’s primary programming language is Solidity. The Ethereum team created Solidity specifically to build smart contracts that run on the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
Cardano, on the other hand, utilizes Haskell and Plutus. Haskell is a functional programming language that’s been around since 1990. But the most recent stable release launched in 2010. Similar to Haskell, Plutus is a functional programming language; however, it was created in-house by the Cardano development team.
Probably the most significant way the two smart contract platforms differ is in their architecture.
Cardano is split into two layers. The layers separate the account value ledger from the reasons why value transfers from one account to the other. This separation gives you, as the end-user, more control over the privacy and execution of your smart contracts.
The Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL) takes care of the value ledger while the Cardano Computation Layer (CCL) handles the “why” of transactions.
Currently, Ethereum only has one layer. But, second-layer scaling solutions are in the works. Plasma is one of those solutions. Plasma contains child blockchains similar to Bitcoin’s Lightning Network. These child chains facilitate transactions without having to take up bandwidth on the main Ethereum chain.
Ethereum will soon implement sharding as well to help with the blockchain’s scalability issues.
Besides the obvious differences in market cap and price, the two cryptocurrencies have some less critical differences.
Ethereum has an over three-year head start on Cardano. The project launched in January 2014 whereas Cardano only recently came into the scene in September 2017.
Cardano has one of the largest coin supply’s in the industry with a maximum supply of 45 billion. Ethereum doesn’t have a maximum token amount, but the circulating supply at the time of this writing is just over 100 million.
Ethereum vs Cardano – The Better Investment?
Out of the gate, Ethereum has a higher market cap than Cardano so its growth potential may be smaller. However, the two projects are close enough in size that it shouldn’t matter much. Let’s look at the trading history of each coin individually.
Right now, Ethereum is trading at about one-third of its all-time high price of ~$1,400. Until the great crash of 2018, you could rely on Ethereum as a steady gainer that seldom lost value. There was even a stretch of time in 2017 when some community members believed that Ethereum would dethrone Bitcoin as the top cryptocurrency.
Cardano has experienced a much harder fall from greatness than Ethereum. The ADA price has dropped to less than one-sixth of its almost $1.30 top. It appears to be resting comfortably on a floor of ~$0.12. As the team hasn’t launched a dapp ready platform yet, much of this pricing is speculative.
Ethereum vs Cardano – Let’s Compare
As of now, Ethereum has one of the largest and most active (if not the largest and most active) developer communities in crypto. It’s the top choice for initial coin offerings (ICOs) and many of the tokens that you know and love run on the Ethereum network. As long as Ethereum maintains this popularity, the price should continue to rise.
Cardano may not have the support that Ethereum does, but it still has a healthy community nonetheless. The real test will come when Cardano is ready for dApp development. The long-awaited release could bring the adoption that Cardano needs to get its price moving positively again.
Ethereum vs Cardano – What’s Next?
Both platforms have active development teams with jam-packed roadmaps ahead. Ethereum is working to become a more scalable dApp platform through the implementation of Casper (PoS), Plasma, and sharding. Cardano will soon be releasing Shelley, an update that includes human-friendly addresses, open Ouroboros delegation, and multisig transactions among other things.
It may be cliche, but comparing these two projects really is like comparing apples to oranges. Both are fruits (dApp platforms) with their own sets of pros and cons. Some community members prefer one over the other while others like them both. And, some people would prefer both failed.
In the end, Ethereum and Cardano are both respectable projects that should make a significant impact on the world.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Based in Austin, TX, Steven is the Executive Editor at CoinCentral. He’s interviewed industry heavyweights such as Wanchain President Dustin Byington, TechCrunch Editor-in-Chief Josh Constine, IOST CEO Jimmy Zhong, Celsius Network CEO Alex Mashinsky, and ICON co-founder Min Kim among others. Outside of his role at CoinCentral, Steven is a co-founder and CEO of Coin Clear, a mobile app that automates cryptocurrency investments. You can follow him on Twitter @TheRealBucci to read his “clever insights on the crypto industry.” His words, not ours.