Digital Cash

Why choose Cardano?

Wondering if Cardano is the right solution for your blockchain application?

Wondering if you should invest in Cardano?

You’re comparing the blockchains out there, there’s a bewildering array of features, all sorts of jargon and it’s also crazy difficult to know who to believe.

Why is Cardano better than XYZ blockchain? Why should it be at the top of your list? Here’s a quick list of key things to consider when comparing Cardano and other blockchains:

A blockchain must be secure – it’s the most important requirement. The Cardano blockchain is the product of the most rigorous research and development within the entire blockchain space. There is no other blockchain that can match Cardano in its approach and execution on security. Cardano chose a longer development path and a harder-to-develop approach to smart contracts, through the use of Haskell as its root programming language, all so that its users would have the most secure and reliable platform on which to develop their products and services.

Compared to other leading blockchains:
Bitcoin | Ethereum | Solana

Blockchains that aren’t decentralised are pointless – decentralization is the second most important feature of a good blockchain, after security. Without it, a blockchain offers nothing that Web2 doesn’t already provide perfectly well.

Cardano is the most decentralized of all the major blockchains. Its creators and its community obsess about decentralization and how to keep improving it.

A decentralized blockchain can’t be taken over or controlled by any centralised entity, including the world’s largest governments.

Cardano spent a great deal of effort and time ensuring the computing hardware requirements of its nodes would be relatively low and as a result, today has thousands of individual nodes making up its blockchain. Whilst some entities run multiple nodes, to increase their earnings through the staking rewards stake pool operators receive, Cardano has still managed to attract a very large number of individuals who run their own independent nodes (called “stake pools”). As a result, it has a high degree of decentralization and a high MAV / Nakamoto coefficient score.

Compared to other leading blockchains:
Bitcoin | Ethereum | Solana | Binance

Creating a secure, reliable and decentralised blockchain is an incredibly hard computer science problem.

“Move fast and break things” is the mantra of a great many blockchains. As a result, they have suffered horrific attacks and the loss of billions of dollars worth of users’ money. You don’t move fast and break things when people’s money and livelihoods are at stake.

Cardano sets itself apart from all of its competitors by having chosen a different path. The Cardano blockchain, all of its components, are the result of years of rigorous academic research, typically carried out before a single line of the software code to implement them is written. IOG, the company that develops the Cardano blockchain, have now published over 150 academic papers, written by leading experts in the fields of blockchain, security and computer science. These papers have been presented at conferences around the world and peer-reviewed by the wider academic community. 

There is no other blockchain that has done this. No other blockchain comes close to the research and development effort and the moving forwards of the entire blockchain space as Cardano.

If you want a blockchain you can trust, one where you can see for sure that its development has been carried out correctly and will provide you with the highest trustworthiness credentials, there is no other blockchain that comes close to Cardano.

Cardano has never used VC funding (Venture Capitalists – financial firms that fund many technology projects and some other leading blockchains, in return for control of them and a large slice of the profits). 

The creators of Cardano have always intended for it to be fully owned and controlled by its community. As its initial development phases complete the final pieces of how that is achieved are being rolled out.

Cardano has a self-funding mechanism called Project Catalyst which is already funded to the tune of many hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ADA (money generated from the initial sale of Cardano’s ADA tokens to the general public and onwards through the operation of the blockchain). Project Catalyst runs multiple funding rounds per year, each awarding millions of dollars worth of ADA to winning projects. The Cardano community decides, through a blockchain-based voting system, which projects are awarded this funding, to improve and move the Cardano blockchain on.

This sounds simple but is actually one of Cardano’s killer features, freeing it from the profit-motivated interests of investors or owner founders many other blockchains suffer from. It provides the means for the Cardano blockchain and all its services to be improved now and long into the future, by the community, for the community.

NFTs on Cardano are native assets, they exist on the blockchain with all the same security and functionality as Cardano’s native currency ADA. You don’t need to use a smart contract to create or use them, they are beautifully simple to make, use and own.

Creation and transfer of NFTs on Cardano is low cost. Not stupidly low cost, not falsely low cost to try and attract users before costs are racked up in later years. Just realistically low priced, to provide a low-cost service whilst ensuring the blockchain earns enough to cover its operating costs and onward development.

Compared to other leading blockchains:
Bitcoin | Ethereum | Solana

Cardano is currently in its scaling era. It’s an essential element of a modern blockchain, the ability to scale to billions of users.

One metric it’s important to understand in the blockchain space in this regard, is “transactions per second” (TPS). Many competing blockchains use it as a term to try and claim they offer something superior. When it comes to Cardano, it’s important to note that Cardano differs from many of its competitors in that a single transaction on the Cardano blockchain can contain hundreds of individual transactions within it. So whilst it already offers a high transactions per second (TPS) capability (with further improvements on this to come as part of its roadmap), it actually provides many times more than this figure in real terms because of this ability for many NFT or cryptocurrency transfer transactions to be bundled together into a single blockchain transaction. Another advantage of this is that it reduces transaction costs for users, and also block size for the blockchain itself.

Highly engaged and passionate, born out of a core philosophy of changing the world for the better. People who come across Cardano and look into it a bit, seem to stick around. Cardano’s community is hundreds of thousands of people strong today. It is the 3rd largest within the whole blockchain space and is growing exponentially. Within the community, there are both people passionate about what Cardano will bring to the world and also a large number of developers & creators, looking to use Cardano to develop their own blockchain solutions.

Without community a blockchain can’t flourish. You can create the best tech in the world, but without a really strong social layer it will be pointless.

Communities like this can’t be artificially created or copied, a community like Cardano’s is the product of many years of work, engagement and openness, combined with the original creator’s world-changing intentions and actually following through on them.

Compared to other leading blockchains:
Bitcoin | Ethereum | Solana | XRP | Binance

Smart contracts are pieces of software that add programmability to the blockchain. Cardano put a great deal of research effort into its smart contract approach.

On the Cardano blockchain, Haskell is used as the root smart contract programming language (Cardano’s Plutus framework is based on Haskell). Haskell is the functional programming language used by most mission-critical applications in the world today, from global banking to sending rockets into space. Being a “functional” programming language, a Cardano smart contract can be provably tested before it is submitted to the blockchain, thus massively reducing the opportunities for developer mistakes to be made. In addition to Haskell other secure languages are also available that can be compiled down to the root Plutus framework. The use of EUTXO by the Cardano blockchain also allows smart contract execution to be checked before submitting, resulting in a low likelihood of a transaction failing to execute.

Cardano does not charge users for failed transactions, if a transaction doesn’t execute for some reason the user does not pay.

Compared to other leading blockchains:
Bitcoin | Ethereum

Cardano led the way in developing and then implementing Proof of Stake (PoS) as the environmentally friendly model for a modern blockchain. Back when many people believed Proof of Work (PoW) was the only secure approach, Cardano researched and proved PoS could instead offer the same, even better, security assurances as PoW. Since then other blockchains have made extensive use of Cardano’s research papers in the implementation of their own PoS blockchains.

Away from the Security of the blockchain, another key area for PoS is staking rewards. These are the ongoing earnings paid to users, to incentivise them to “stake” their cryptocurrency and thus ensuring the security and decentralization of a PoS blockchain. In Cardanos’ case, staking is highly incentivised and has zero risk for a user. A reasonable (but not unaffordably excessive) staking reward of 3-4% per year is paid to users who correctly stake their ADA. When a user stakes their ADA, it never actually leaves their wallet and there is no risk to them of their ADA being taken away through mechanisms like slashing adopted by some other leading blockchains. Their ADA also remains liquid, they can spend it at any time with no lock-up period (a period of time some blockchains prevent users from being able to access their staked cryptocurrency).

Compared to other leading blockchains:
Bitcoin | Ethereum

Transactions on Cardano are cheap. Upcoming side chain technology (Hydra) will offer near-zero costs for extremely cost-sensitive use cases.

As with all things in life, judging a blockchain on price alone is foolish, as a blockchain needs to cover its operating costs, incentivise its community and fund its future development. Cardano has taken an approach of being cost-sensitive through the choice of small but fair transaction fees, but not being unaffordably low cost (i.e. falsely low cost to try and attract users and lock them in before charges have to be racked up in later years).

Cardano has always known that the blockchain industry will need to be regulated in the countries its users live in and already incorporates the key features regulation compliance will require, including identity, KYC, and transparent transaction reporting.

The Cardano blockchain software is open source and not patent-encombered.

All of its source code is released to the community. It isn’t owned or restricted by its developers.

Cardano’s peer-reviewed research combined with its Haskell programming language makes it by far and away the most secure blockchain choice for large corporations and governments when considering a blockchain for critical infrastructure.

Its open source structure and self-governance mechanisms remove worries of malicious third-party control or influence, such as those found with VC or founder-controlled blockchains.

I’ve heard XYZ company has partnered with another blockchain - if Cardano is so good why not Cardano?

Cardano is a decentralised blockchain, there is no CEO of the Cardano blockchain to go and cut a partnership deal with. That’s the whole point of Web3 and blockchain. Not all blockchains are created the same, there are many that have been created by VCs who spend millions of dollars attracting partnerships, all with the intent of pumping the value of their blockchain ready for when they sell. Big tech companies also want to keep hold of their Web2 monopolies so tend to select blockchains they can exert their financial influence over.

Cardano is true Web3 blockchain. It’s the people’s blockchain, owned and controlled by the whole community. You don’t need to partner with Cardano to use it, in just the same way as you don’t need to partner with Linux, or partner with TCP/IP to use their technologies. That openness and lack of corporate ownership are one of the key reasons why Cardano will ultimately become the financial, identity and ownership operating system of the world.

Cardano will become the financial, identity and ownership operating system of the world

I've heard criticism of Cardano?

Criticism of Cardano generally falls into three main categories:

1) "Cardano is only focused on the third world"

Cardano has historically had a large focus on providing financial services to the 1/3 of the world’s population who are unbanked, who lack access to the basic financial services the rest of the world takes for granted. There’s a fundamental logic to this, in that trying to change the banking system in the parts of the world where it is already established is a monumental task. Both because powerful banks and governments will try to resist it and because for many in society it’s already “good enough”. Providing groundbreaking new financial services to those who lack any is not only great for them, it’s also a much easier way to show everyone what’s possible and what a decentralized blockchain can offer to everyone.

However, this isn’t Cardano’s sole purpose at all. Through setting out to create a blockchain with these basic lofty aims, Cardano has ended up creating a blockchain that is a perfect solution for pretty much all Web3 use cases, across the whole spectrum of blockchain applications.

2) "Cardano has taken a long time to roll out its blockchain technology"

Much of this criticism is fair. Being on the inside of its community has been incredibly frustrating at times, to watch other blockchains speeding ahead with a mentality of “move fast and break things”.

Cardano’s founder, Charles Hoskinson, often toted the phrase “the slow way is the fast way”. The argument goes that you should go slow to start with, to end up going fast. In 2022 this started to pay its dividends. Cardano finally caught up with its competition and now demonstrates a much superior underlying technology architecture and ability to iterate quickly, now its fundamentals are fully built out.

Cardano is not slow. This is just how long it takes to do things PROPERLY.

Because they took their time, because they used many of the world’s best blockchain, maths and cryptography academics to study the problems and publish peer-reviewed papers first, they have ended up with a foundation and stack that is very strong. Many of their competitors rushed it, didn’t research it properly and as a result users of their blockchains have lost billions of dollars worth of money through hacks and developer mistakes. Many are now realising too that they’ve made fundamental mistakes in the blockchain design which means they now aren’t able to evolve as they’d like to.

If you’re a company getting into blockchain today, a large corporation, or a government, there is simply no other blockchain in the entire industry that offers you the levels of assurances that Cardano does, that the architecture and implementation are done right.

3) "Cardano is rubbish, no one is using it, no one smart thinks it is any good"

This became a running joke within the Cardano community. We endured years of these types of attacks, whilst we’ve waited for Cardano to be ready.

Remember that blockchain involves large sums of money, as people speculate on which will win and might make them rich? To hate on Cardano became a way of life for many of its competitors. Its lofty aims and slow pace of progress were often scoffed at.

That narrative finally changed though. Where the mud-slinging from people who created or invested in other blockchains was once driven by fear of what Cardano was bringing to the table, that fear turned into acceptance that it had arrived.

It’s hard to claim no one is using it when it’s now one of the most used blockchains. You can see many of the projects that have chosen to use it here:

It becomes hard to claim no one clever thinks it’s any good when it has the third largest community behind it and growing at an exponential rate.

Cardano is one of the only top blockchains never to have needed to be turned off or suffer any serious core attack. They must be doing something right after all those Cardano developers…

If you hunt around the web, around YouTube, around crypto Twitter you’ll find all sorts of claims made about Cardano. Many of them are simply lies. Just bear in mind that crypto has been very tribal, people in this space lie, a lot. Consider what it might be about a blockchain that would make so many others fearful of it and want to quash it?

Who to believe?

This is a big one! The crypto space can be horribly tribal within itself, combined with many sectors in the rest of society having strong biases against blockchain and Web3.

Government

You can trust governments, right? But proper decentralized blockchains offer the potential to heavily disrupt government and power, by providing the means to empower citizens to see that government is conducted more fairly and more openly. Hmmm, with that in mind, do you think people who have already made it to high positions of power within government might have some bias against blockchains that offer power returning back to the people?

Banks

Blockchain is all about money, so surely the banks know what’s best. Ummm, once again, blockchain is bringing great disruption to banking. But with banking, it threatens the very base modern-day banking sits on. It offers ways to do banking much better (for citizens, not the banks themselves). Eventually, they’ll have to adapt and embrace blockchain, but for now it offers something many of them would much rather didn’t exist. 

News organisations

OK this time I’ve got it right, they are who we trust to tell us the news, impartially. Ahh, yes well, that would be nice, wouldn’t it?! [Insert name of your favourite news organisation here] always tells the truth and doesn’t over sensationalist anything does it! OK, so this one is going to be a matter of personal opinion. My own opinion is that the vast majority of mainstream news organisations have produced far more hit pieces against blockchain and Web3 than pieces in favour of it. Why? Because bad news sells. News organisations are not impartial. They have to make money for their own existence, to pay their staff. Sensational stories about people losing money, about conn artists stealing from the general public is a much more interesting story than this geeky tech or financial services company you’ve never heard of is working feverishly away to disrupt banking or investing or government or ……

To be fair to the news outlets, there have been lots of bad stories to tell and the general public does need protection against dodgy blockchain investments. But I’d argue, from my viewpoint, that at the same time they’ve done a terrible job of providing balanced reporting of the good that is here too and that’s coming. Hopefully, that will change as blockchain becomes more relevant and produces its winning products that are finally useful to the general public…

Within the blockchain space itself and the news organisations who specialise in it, there’s an alarming number who have very strong biases towards particular blockchains and against their competitors.  This is born out of many having been set up to support blockchain XYZ in the first place, or to manipulate the markets in certain ways, or simply because they are owned by people with large investments in particular blockchains.

YouTubers and Podcasts

The biggest names in crypto YouTube seem to often be heavily biased towards certain blockchains and negative about certain other blockchains. Why might that be…?! They’ll often do it under the guise of offering an impartial view on this or that blockchain, but when you start to learn more, from the blockchain communities directly, you start to see more and more of what’s being said is often cleverly manipulated. 

Then there are podcasts and interviews with seemingly prominent “experts” in the fields of investing, banking and technology. Again, take the time to delve into the background of that person, where their own financial interests lie, and you often discover that they have a strong bias. Add to it that what we’re often talking about here is money, really large sums of money, then you have a perfect medium that can cause people to bare face lie to try and achieve a result that’s good for them personally.

Remember also that social media influencers are not regulated, they can and do accept payment from all sorts of brands and companies to promote their messages. In the world of blockchains, the VC backed blockchains spend vast sums of money on not only marketing their own blockchain, but also actively spreading negativity and doubt about blockchains they don’t want to succeed. When you’ve been in the space a while you notice more and more how the strongly targeted opinions of even the most prominent influential voices can suddenly change for no apparent reason. Money. It’s just money and thoroughly unscrupulous people seeking to line their own pockets!

Oh, so is there anywhere?

Well, one of the basic rules here is do your own research. It’s not that all people on YouTube, podcasts, journalists and news outlets are lying. There are plenty that are truthful. But you need to delve and listen to several of them, many of them, from differing viewpoints, to start to get a sense of who’s honest and who isn’t.

Ethereum

Ethereum transitioned from Proof of Work (PoW) to Proof of Stake (PoS) in late 2022. Because Ethereum started out as a Proof of Work blockchain, the technical challenges involved in changing it to Proof of Stake blockchain were massive. It took many years longer than anticipated and now complete has revealed flaws in its design.

Apart from the massive complexity of the Ethereum PoS implementation, it has also failed to deliver the decentralization users of the Ethereum blockchain expected. Added to that, its creators decided to implement the unpopular characteristics of “Locking” users’ funds when staked and a mechanism called “Slashing”. The first means that users who deposit their ETH with a staking provider lose the ability to spend that ETH until the end of the locking period. The later, slashing, means that when a user stakes their ETH, they run the inherent risk of that ETH being taken away from them if their chosen staking provider is deemed to have misbehaved by the Ethereum blockchain. This isn’t a theoretical problem, it has already happened several times since PoS was activated – real users have lost their staked ETH through no fault of their own.

The end result? Users are not highly incentivised to stake their ETH, resulting in Ethereum’s decentralization and security worsening further.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a Proof of Work blockchain (PoW). It doesn’t offer PoS and all the associated environmental benefits or staking rewards.

Ethereum

Smart contracts on Ethereum are written in Solidity, a simpler to learn programming language than Haskell but one that has proven to have poor protection against developer mistakes and unintended consequences.

Ethereum’s use of Solidity and its “account-based” model for the blockchain itself brings some ease of use advantages for developers compared to Cardano, but with shortcomings in terms of its ability scale long term and also with not being able to fully test smart contract execution prior to submitting to the blockchain.

Ethereum smart contract transaction fees are high and Ethereum also charges users for smart contracts submitted even when they fail to execute.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin doesn’t offer smart contract functionality.

Solana

Solana is a popular choice for NFT creators. They have invested a great deal in the onboarding of developers and creators through easy-to-use and well featured tools. Transaction fees are also very low on Solana, although it remains to be seen how they can remain so low in the long term once the blockchain needs to cover its own running costs.

Issues with NFTs on Solana include centralization concerns, enforcement of royalties for NFT creators and also that Solana has suffered a large number of security incidents and has needed to be completely shut down on many occasions. The ability for Solana to scale is also seen as a major concern given that it is already using very powerful computing hardware

Ethereum

Ethereum was the first major blockchain to offer NFTs and has a thriving NFT community. However, looking past its first mover advantage, the most pressing issues with NFTs on Ethereum are:

  • NFTs are not native assets on Ethereum, they have to be created using a smart contract or on a sidechain, which adds complexity for both creators and users.
  • Transaction costs are high on Ethereum. Layer 2 side chains offer the possibility to lower transaction costs, but the use of sidechains creates a great deal of complexity and confusion for users.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin doesn’t offer NFTs.

Binance

The Binance BNB blockchain is highly centralized and controlled by the Binance organisation. It does not offer the decentralization required to be considered a proper Web3 blockchain.

Solana

Solana claims a high level of decentralization and a relatively high Nakamoto coefficient. However, as with many things Solana, it is difficult to obtain clear proof of this. Solana has chosen to require the use of extremely powerful and expensive computing hardware for their nodes and as a result purchasing it is out of the reach of typical community members who might want to set up and run a node on the blockchain. To counter this they have set up a server rental program claiming this solves the problem, but many community members remain unconvinced the platform is really decentralized. One argument backing this up is the regular Solana blockchain outages, where only a few people have the influence to shut down and restart the network. 

Ethereum

Ethereum should be a highly decentralized blockchain as this was very much the intent of its creators. Many in its community will try and claim it is highly decentralized through the use of somewhat fudged terminology and figures. The reality though is that due to its poor Proof of Stake implementation and the expensive computer hardware requirements for its nodes, Ethereum today is poorly decentralized and has a low MAV / Nakamoto coefficient score.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin was always intended to be a highly decentralized blockchain and in its early years it was. Its use of Proof of Work should in theory encourage decentralization and keep it highly decentralized. In reality though the massive sums of money earnt through Proof of Work mining has resulted in a few very large players controlling large amounts of the Bitcoin hash rate.

Bitcoin today is poorly decentralized with a low MAV / Nakamoto coefficient score.

Binance

What community?! Seriously though, there appears to be a lot of smoke and mirrors with BNB. A quick cursory look will show you the illusion of an alive and active community, but delve in and try and find anyone to actually interact with and it appears on a human level its a bit of a ghost town.

XRP

XRP is more specialised towards the modernisation of banking and therefore has a smaller community than more generic blockchains, simply due to that perceived specialisation.

Solana

The owners of the Solana blockchain engage in a certain amount of fakery within the Blockchain space, so it can be hard to gauge the real Solana community size. Solana has some serious issues as a blockchain but also has been clever in offering attractively simple on-ramps for developers and very low transaction fee’s. As a result, there are a lot of developers who use Solana, in preference to the costs and complexity of Ethereum.

Solana is a VC-backed blockchain and has significant security, reliability and centralisation issues, so its community isn’t really passionate about core blockchain and Web3 concepts – because they have been largely ignored by Solana! However, there is of course passion for the technology and plenty of tribalism from developers who’ve chosen it and made it their home.

Ethereum

Ethereum has a large and very passionate community.  Like Bitcoin, there’s a lot of maximalism within the Ethereum community and many people who want to retain Ethereum’s lead as the no2 blockchain through any means necessary.

There are lots of developers within the Ethereum community and whilst it has its hostile and toxic elements, there are also many who are great people and who simply want to work with blockchain technology and change the world.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin has a large and very passionate community. It was the first major blockchain and paved the way for everything that followed. There’s a lot of maximalism within the Bitcoin community and also a fair bit toxicity towards other blockchain communities.

Solana

Security concerns are arguably a bit wider with Solana because the Solana blockchain itself has suffered many instances of the entire blockchain needing to be shut down to address major security flaws and live attacks.

Focusing just on smart contracts, Solana offers Solidity as a programming language which carries with it the same security issues as when used with Ethereum. Solana also offers Rust as an alternative programming language choice which, whilst lacking compared to Cardano’s Haskell, offers better security practices than Solidity.

Ethereum

Ethereum uses a programming language it designed called Solidity. Whilst relatively simple for a developer to learn, it has proved itself to be a poor language from a security standpoint and has resulted in billions of dollars worth of people’s Ethereum being lost to mistakes and attacks on Solidity smart contract weaknesses.

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin does not provide smart contract functionality so its security only really relates to the holding of Bitcoin in wallets.  The Proof of Work model adopted by Bitcoin provides a high level of security (although is terrible for the environment!).