A smart contract is a piece of self-executing code that not only defines the rules and penalties of an agreement like a traditional agreement, but also enforces those obligations automatically. Smart contracts can be used across a broad spectrum of utilities including financial services, healthcare, insurance premiums, legal processes, crowdfunding agreements etc.
Smart contracts are capable of :
- Managing agreements between different parties. Example : In the case of an insurance, one person buys insurance from an entity.
- Functioning as ‘multi-signature’ accounts, where funds are spent only if a required percentage of people agree.
- Providing utility to other contracts
Currently, there are more than twenty smart contract platforms available in the market. These platforms differ from each other in many ways, be it functional, technical or practical aspect. That is why, development for each platform requires a different set of expertise.
Currently, the most popular platforms for smart contract development are :
- Hyperledger Fabric
It is worth mentioning that Bitcoin was the first to support basic smart contracts in the sense that the network could transfer value from one person to another. The nodes would validate the transactions only when certain conditions were met. However, Bitcoin is limited to the currency use case.
By contrast, Ethereum replaces Bitcoin’s language with a language that allows developers to write their own programs. Ethereum platform is built specifically for creating smart contracts.
It allows developers to create their own smart contracts with a language that is ‘Turing-complete’ meaning that it supports a wider and broader set of computational instructions. The contracts are enforced and validated by computers caller miners. Other participants in the network pay these miners with a fee known as gas. The amount of gas depends on the degree of difficulty of computational efforts as well as on the cost to run a contract. Based on the operations of a contract, different contracts require different gas amount.
EOS is a new and innovative platform for smart contract development as opposed to the old and trusted Ethereum. EOS platform uses Graphene technology that makes use of the delegated Proof of Stake consensus, meaning that the validations on the network are done by a chosen set of nodes which are selected on the basis of the stake they hold in the network. This also helps it to become scalable by allowing millions of transactions to run together per second. EOS has been able to achieve 100,000 transactions per second in stress testing.
Ownership of EOS tokens gives the users a proportional stake in storage, network bandwidth, and the computing power. In EOS, even the startups that have a very little stake invested in the platform also get guaranteed, reliable computational power and bandwidth.
Hyperledger Fabric is a blockchain framework implementation originally contributed by IBM and Digital Asset, and now hosted by the Linux Foundation. It provides options to share confidential information, endorse policies for transactions and execute smart contracts called chaincode.
Some of the advantages of using Hyperledger Fabric are :
The network is permission-based and a consensus needs to be reached at a transaction level, not ledger level making it more scalable and fast than public blockchains.
All the agreements are confidential, so only direct participants of the agreement have access to the data of transaction.
It is modular, scalable and secure. Its architecture allows developers to plug-in their preferred implementation.
|Hyperledger Fabric||Go Java|
Apart from the above-mentioned platforms, there are many other platforms like Stellar, NEO, Corda, Lisk etc. All these platforms come with abundant features and it is difficult to compare or say which is the best as each platform has its own unique features. The only way to determine which platform to use is to check your requirements and see what suits you best.