It seems like you can't go anywhere these days without hearing the word blockchain or crypto, so let's start simple. What is it?
The blockchain is a system of recording information that makes it near impossible to change, hack or cheat the system. It's essentially a digital ledger. The main point, other than being secure, is to be decentralized, meaning it will steer away from a single point of administration and allow people to cut out the middle man like a bank or the government, allowing people to deal directly with each other instead. Blockchain-based companies often have their own supply of Bitcoin tailored to them, which can be securely bought and traded. Blockchain technology allows businesses to verify identity, reduce fraud, keep customer data safe, reduce costs and keep records of transactions.
Now that we've learned a little more about the blockchain and what a blockchain-based company might do, let's dive into two of the biggest contenders Switzerland has to offer.
Our blockchain Picks
Solana is a decentralized blockchain built to enable scalable, user-friendly apps for the world with projects across DeFi, NFTs, and Web3.
WHat you’ll Learn
Key Information,The Basics, NFT Relation, The Goods & The Bads, DDT Score
Near Protocol is a carbon-neutral, simple, secure, and scalable technology with innovative UX, high-speed transactions, and low fees operating a platform for developers to launch and create dApps.
WHat you’ll Learn
Featured Company One
Solana aims to scale beyond what is typically achieved by popular blockchains while keeping transaction costs low - that's why this is quite a trendy protocol in the industry. Plus, the quick and cheap transactions make it ideal for creating things like dApps (decentralized apps).
Web3, Funding, Cryptography, Platform and Protocol
Employees in Swizterland
Solana is becoming one of the world's most popular and well-known blockchain projects, spanning itself across DeFi, NFTs, Web3, and much more. It's the world's fastest-running blockchain and the fastest crypto ecosystem. Solana scales for global adoption by ensuring composability between ecosystem projects. Something being composable in simplified terms is the ability of dApps or DAOs to clone and integrate one another effectively, and for software components like tokens and messages to exchange and make use of information between them. Solana does this by maintaining a single global state as the network scales.
Solana's design allows excellent scalability, which is one's ability to process and store a large number of transactions without compromising the transaction and timestamp speed. They do this by having a leading node (a computer) or the main network that can create paths and communication for other networks, which is chosen on the PoS mechanism.
PoS (proof of stake) is a mechanism that processes transactions and creates new blocks in a blockchain, which reduces the overall workload, resulting in an increased throughput even without a centralized and exact time source. Scalability transactions are at a constant low cost, and network speed is of utmost importance; your transactions are always safe as the network is spread out over thousands of nodes.
Of course, Solana's low gas fees, which are possible through a lower block time (time taken to verify a transaction and create a new block) and high block size (the number of transactions a block can be filled with), make it a great choice. Yet Solana may also not be as decentralized as it could be.
The potential for a cryptocurrency to succeed increases exponentially with every node that participates in running the network. The more nodes, the more decentralized. In Solana's case, they rely solely on one, Solana Foundation, as a central point of control, therefore reducing its decentralization. Solana also has 77% of its tokens (virtual currency) held by insiders and an additional 13% reserved as incentives for future development, leaving a tiny sliver of tokens available to the public. Hopefully, over time, more tokens will become publicly available, allowing crypto holders to put their digital assets to work and earn a passive income without selling a less centralized process.
We all know how annoying it is to lose money on something that feels unnecessary or avoidable. You may even be familiar with the high gas prices that also exist with blockchain-based companies like Ethereum and Bitcoin. In fact, they're pretty standard to compensate for the computing energy required in processing transactions on a network - which can be very costly depending on how many people are using it.
Fortunately, not everyone is going to subjugate you to these high fees. Using Solana over Ethereum can save you a lot of money on transactions with significantly lower gas fees. Phantom Wallet is working closely with Solana, having integrated almost seamlessly on Solana's platform. This particular wallet is often used for anything NFT-related. Solana also has Solanart, the first and largest fully-fledged NFT marketplace on Solana, allowing creators to choose and embed licenses when they mint their NFTs. You get quick and easy access to digital collectibles and can explore, buy and sell NFTs.
Open market for NFTs on Solana https://solsea.io/
The goods and bads
Solana has hit the ground running with its token prices reaching for the sky. It could be broken down to their block time being 400 milliseconds, compared to Ethereum's 10 seconds. So it's evident Solana can provide quick transactions (with these giant blocks to contain them) and low gas fees, but what else can they offer?
Solana uses proof of history, which means adding a time stamp to each block, so they know what order to process in, additionally using cryptographic proof to validate the time. You can organize these validated blocks after they have been received based on a time stamp. Solana's validators run parallel to their smart contracts allowing you to do multiple activities at once - imagine you had three chores like the dishes, vacuuming, and food shopping. There is no way you can do them all simultaneously, but with parallel smart contracts, you would be able to.
Solana has become one of the biggest cryptocurrencies in the world, alongside Ethereum and Bitcoin, but recently it's been suffering. With the plummeting pricing the crypto market has experienced, Solana has been left with no mercy; at an all-time high in November of 2021 - 260 dollars per coin - it has now dropped 85% to a fluctuating $30.
To go along with the string of bad luck, Solana has recently suffered multiple outages. The first outage was in December of 2020 and lasted 6 hours. The outage implied that everting network in the system had the same bug. A 17-hour outage occurred in September of 2021, later classified as a 'denial of service attack.' Solana has suffered five outages since then and most recently sustained another 4 hours of outages. Apps on Solanas blockchain were taken offline as a result.
The question now is how many outages can Solana sustain? How much longer can Solana and its users suffer these outages? Can a more sturdy solution be added to prevent these outages, or is this the downfall of Solana?
To end it on more positive news, Solana recently overtook Ethereum in transaction activity, where Solana saw almost 630,000 transactions in the last seven days, and Ethereum saw 500,000. So is this a new start to a greater and more popular Solana?
The team at Solana is doing everything they can to live up to their reputation as a company dedicated to blockchain technology. From the website design and content, it's clear this group understands what makes something good or bad when browsing online in 2022. With striking visuals, animations, and a set of compelling colors, Solana carries great branding across their active social media platforms. The Solana green and purple carry well throughout the website and become quite memorable as we associate them with the brand. Adding their stats on transactions per second and cost is highly compelling to pull positive attention towards Solana, as we consumers get a real-time understanding of what's happening.
The design on Solana's main web pages has impressed us with its attention-grabbing graphics and qualities, but your attention is easily lost within the writing and replaced with confusion.
While it's kept short, to the point, and uses a layered informational structure, many people still aren't familiar with these big fancy web3 terms, right? It's almost like learning a new language or cracking a code; with Solana, the technical jargon is through the roof. All the web3 novices want to fade away into the background. It's hard to read about a blockchain company and not come across related phrases but trying to simplify it or offering a glossary, or a simple video explaining the terms and the company to a novice. Starting programs like "Solana for dummies." You could argue, 'well, Solana isn't for beginners, ' and sure, maybe it's not. But we have to remember, in a way, we are all beginners, and if we want web3 to be the new internet, we have to account for all the "dummies" out there.
Solana has recently had a few outages, and anyone who is mildly following along in the crypto world may have heard about it. Solana has made the undeniably wise decision to publicly address these outages instead of trying to sweep their problems under the rug.
The Solana brand has many different sections and often they do an adequate job at keeping the colors of their logo alive. It would be beneficial to focus on making sure all these sites have a clear sense identity with one another, so that when you visit any page it is easy for us as visitors or readers to associate what website/section we are in.
In conclusion, Solana's branding and visuals are impeccable, and it's safe to say we are all engaged and impressed. There are no major design flaws but rather more of a language barrier. Since Solana's website is so big, it can be overwhelming with all the additional hyperlinks, where the branding follows through to a decent degree. It's a learning curve for us all, and it's pretty exciting for all you designers out there. Seeing there's so much room for you to be involved and help.
Featured Company TWO
Platform and Protocol
Employees in Swizterland
Usability, scalability, and security are the main issues to solve when it comes to gaining mainstream adoption. Luckily Near is the first decentralized platform to have solved all three, as well as having created a carbon-neutral program that has made it as easy as possible for users and developers to explore and develop new decentralized experiences. It brings us one step closer to being in control of our data and digital paths.
Being in control of our data surely is a desire we all have, especially in today's day and age where you mention, let's say, black boots and suddenly get an ad for black boots on your Instagram. Well, Near Protocol wants to help by building the infrastructure for the new internet, making it harder for companies to steal your data. Thus making it as easy as possible for developers to create and launch dApps. Near has made an effort to be the easiest in the world for developers and end-users alike. All while still providing the required scalability that motivates many to invent, explore and create new decentralized experiences.
Near also utilizes Nightshade, a sharding mechanism where the network's infrastructure is split into multiple segments. Each shard has 100 seats for validators, allowing the nodes (computers) to only have to handle a fraction of the transaction, ultimately speeding up the transaction process. This method has permitted Near to process 100,000 transactions per second. Quite impressive, right? So remarkable that this is the method that Ethereum 2.0 is supposedly adopting.
Near has many applications to make the process of using Near much more accessible, such as Rainbow Bridge, allowing easy transfers between Ethereum. Near also has Aurora, a layer 2 (a layer of networks built on top of other blockchains) solution built on Near Protocol. It's intended for developers to launch their ETH dApps on Near's network as it has lower gas fees but still easily links any ETH smart contracts. I mean seems like almost the perfect collaboration.
KEEP IT DECENTRALIZED
Near utilizes guilds, similar to company departments. They're communities that work toward specific goals, from core protocol development to projects built atop it. These Guilds are vital players in NEARs decentralization by having smaller teams of developers working together to improve aspects of the Protocol (Near) - they collaborate to maintain and enhance the ecosystem. Near is looking to increase its decentralization by handing over the 'keys to the kingdom' to users through Guilds.
Near currently has four main guilds: The Data Guild, Legal Guild, CuraDAO, and CleanNFTs. The Data Guild works towards increasing the accessibility of NEAR data infrastructure, tools, and resources for all contributors. The Legal Guild provides legal expertise on legal matters on a range of topics such as DAOs, blockchain, smart contracts, tokenization, privacy, cyber security, intellectual property in the crypto industry, and any other crypto-based issues you can think of. CuraDAO is an art studio emphasizing design and exploring creativity using NFTs.
They want to launch in-house creative projects in collaboration with other creatives and partners. CleanNFTs is a platform within Near that intends to educate and raise awareness for eco-friendly NFT platforms and energy-saving blockchains. Together these Guilds make Near a more secure and decentralized place.
We all appreciate things that are clean-cut, whether it's a person or a website. Near does a beautiful job of giving simplicity an exciting twist. The website is airy but intriguing, with some fun animated pastel graphics being carried throughout. While not large, the little green leaf with the carbon-neutral certification still draws your attention to it as it's such a contrast in color. Making it clear that Near is carbon neutral and more sustainable early on, which is a great selling point.
Web3 is such a new topic. It's something many of us need to be eased into, and the pastel colors make it a lot more inviting and welcoming for all newbies while still engaging the veterans. Near does a great job of utilizing softer colors which doesn't make the website overbearing or overwhelming. Unfortunately, like with most of these web3 sites, the use of technical jargon is prominent, with no easy way to decipher this second language we are all being introduced to.
Near does provide a learning section that helps anyone new or wanting to learn about web3 and blockchain understand more about the web3 world, providing use cases and explanations on things like NFTs and DAOs. There was a mix between being very understandable and still getting a little lost. Something as simple as visuals could help reduce the complexity of getting lost in the example given or some links to a glossary of web3 terminology.
Near's voice is very informative and direct, talking precisely about what Near does and what they have to offer. With one general overview sentence and the ability to click on and read further if interested. We can gather the main points quickly; as we all know, our attention span has minimized so much that the faster we get the information we need, the better. When looking to sign up, Near uses four keywords to help you decipher which category you may fall under or would want more information on.
When clicking further into the website, the writing becomes heavier and suffers from some spacing issues making things more compact and, in turn, more difficult to read. There's a lot of consistency with the soft gradients and thin-lined icons throughout the website, creating a commendable sense of branding and constantly reminding us that we are still on Near's website. Overall, Near does an excellent job of keeping things simple and considering those of us who need to learn more about the web3 with their learn section.
Our meetups will present some of the finding of the reports and will facilitate some rich breakout discussions on the Web3 topics that emerge. There will be a ton of networking, collaboration and community building happening at DDT Spark so - don't miss it!