Ethereum vs Cardano – The Pros and Cons
Even if you are new to the crypto community you’ve likely heard of Ethereum and Cardano, and if you haven’t, well, here is a great opportunity to catch up. Ethereum and Cardano are token-based decentralized application platforms each with their own cryptocurrency. They both reside in the top ten cryptocurrencies when ranked by market capitalization. The similarities between these two might end there though, let’s dig into Ethereum and Cardano’s past first before we weigh out the pros and cons.
The Origins of Ethereum and Cardano
While most have heard of Ethereum and Cardano what people don’t know is that these two blockchains have quite an intertwined history. Founders Vitalik Buterin (Ethereum) and Charles Hoskinson (Cardano) are actually Ethereum co-founders turned enemies. The two met through Hoskinson’s online Bitcoin Education Project back in 2013. Buterin began to participate in the online school, and two soon became collaborators. Along with five others, the group launched what is now famously known as the Ethereum project. According to Hoskinson the beginnings of the project quickly escalated into a “boardroom brawl.”
The reason for their eventual falling out? Hoskinson wanted to accept venture capitalist funding and make Ethereum a for-profit chain while Buterin wanted the project to remain open-source and fully decentralized. Hoskinson left and went on to start a new project called IOHK, an engineering firm that deals in blockchain solutions. IOHK’s most important project turned out to be Cardano, a public blockchain and smart-contract platform home to ADA cryptocurrency.
The Pros and Cons of Ethereum and Cardano
Ethereum has a Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanism which is a bit of a con; however, they have had plans since day one to go full Proof-of-Stake (PoS). The team will implement a hybrid model to help with the transition. Hybridization will be a move away from the notoriously high-energy PoW mining process. Their new PoS algorithm, Casper, should help to improve scalability issues the chain currently faces. Right now Ethereum’s consensus mechanism as it stands is a drawback, but they are moving in a positive direction.
Cardano claims to have ‘solved Proof-of-Stake.’ Their consensus mechanism stands to be a huge pro for the platform for this reason. Through the Ouroboros algorithm, Cardano functions in a hierarchy where slot leaders verify transactions to make blocks. This Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism doesn’t favor those who own more ADA making it more democratic, which the community likes. Cardano is the first ever secure blockchain protocol that uses PoS. The slot leader process eliminates the puzzle solving competition (mining) and employs random selection instead. Their low energy and efficient consensus mechanism is a big selling point for Cardano.
Solidity is Ethereum’s unique programming language created only for coding smart contracts designed to run on the Ethereum Virtual Machine. Developers (once they learn Solidity) can create contracts, crowdfund, hold blind auctions, and make multi-sig wallets. The downside for developers is that Solidity is not super easy to learn and only has one use—programming on Ethereum.
It might sound retro, but Cardano uses a functional programming language from the 90s called Haskell. Cardano is also working on creating Marlowe, their team-developed programming language that is domain specific and focuses on executing financial contracts. Plutus, Cardano’s other in-house creation is a functional programming language that developers will use to write smart contracts. Like Solidity, there is a steep learning curve for Haskell, Marlowe, and Plutus that could potentially deter developers. Similar to Ethereum, Cardano’s programming language situation seems like more of an obstacle to adoption than anything else.
Ethereum’s current architecture only consists of one layer, which cannot sustain widespread usage or adoption to rival Web 2.0 tech. To remedy this con, Ethereum has solid future plans for implementing a second layer to improve scalability. Ethereum will also use sharding as a way to address their widely discussed scalability issues. Additionally, their off-chain solution Plasma uses child chains to help accommodate more transactions without slowing down the chain as a whole.
Cardano has two layers, The Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL) and the Cardano Computation Layer (CCL). The CSL deals with value ledger, and the CCL is a set of protocols that deal with ‘why’ value transfers. The separation places emphasis on the security and privacy of smart contract executions. Cardano’s two-layer architecture is definitely a big plus.
Ethereum has the largest developer community with the most live and functioning dApps on any blockchain platform. This is a huge pro for Ethereum. While security and scalability remain issues, Ethereum is one of, if not the only viable platform. More and more developers are learning Solidity and writing smart contracts on the Ethereum network because of this.
Cardano’s community has yet to really take shape since the development platform is not live. While this may seem like a con in the short-term, in the long-term their patient development process could pay off. Many enthusiasts are excited and discuss at length the platform’s potential in online communities like Reddit, Bitcointalk, or the Cardano forum. IOHK has launched the smart contract IELE testnet this summer built on what developers call an “attendant low-level language” to lower the barriers to entry.
Who wins, Ethereum or Cardano?
Cardano might be far behind Ethereum in their development process, but Hoskinson has made it clear that his priority is building an ideal platform with a functioning PoS consensus system before launching. Ethereum has time on its side, but development backtracking working against them. Their three-year jump on Cardano has allowed them to launch a successful PoW chain that might lack certain scalability and security but functions currently as the most prominent developer platform to come out of Web 3.0.
When it comes to the battle of Ethereum vs Cardano, it might not be important to say who has won the battle. All developers and users really want to know are: who will win the war and create the first widely adopted and highly scalable blockchain?