The scalability problem is one of the main reasons blockchain technology has not yet become widespread, despite its many advantages. Scalability refers to the ability of the blockchain network to process a growing number of transactions in conditions of heavy congestion. So far, most blockchains cannot compete with Visa, Mastercard, or PayPal. However, several teams have managed to build ultra-fast blockchains that can compete with traditional payment systems and even overtake them. We collected a selection of the five fastest blockchains and figured out how they achieved such speeds.
It should be noted that although the “transactions per second” parameter is one of the main ones, it is wrong to rely solely on it when calculating the speed of the blockchain. The fact is that a key parameter is the speed of block confirmation (after which transactions are considered irreversible). Therefore, in this article, blockchains are selected not only with high TPS but also with fast block time.
Polygon is a platform for launching Layer 2 solutions, decentralized applications, and sidechains based on the Ethereum blockchain. The project also provides tools for developers (Polygon SDK) to run independent blockchains and dApps, which can seamlessly interact with each other. Polygon delivers a platform that allows developers to create their own scalable solution with a flexible configuration quickly. With this feature, the project is similar to Polkadot and Cosmos, which are also a “base” and a unifying link for other projects. In addition, Polygon includes Ethereum Layer 2 solutions, for example, ZK-rollups and Optimistic Rollups. This expands the scope of its application and allows for greater privacy and scalability. The key task of Polygon is to solve the problem of Ethereum scalability and reduce the price of gas. Thanks to the technologies embedded in Polygon, the speed of this network can reach up to 7,000 transactions per second with a minimum block time and near-zero fees.
Solana is a blockchain designed to support scalable decentralized applications. The project aims to create a convenient scalable protocol with high bandwidth. Also, according to the developers, the platform is focused on minimizing fees and transaction costs. The Solana consensus algorithm is based on the Proof of History (PoH) mechanism. Proof of History is a fundamental principle that ensures high network throughput and efficiency. In addition to the PoH mechanism, the platform uses other innovative protocols. For example, Gulfstream accelerates caching of operations and dynamically redistributes them. Each validator knows the order of assigning leaders, and clients and operators can transfer transactions in advance. This leads to fast data processing and a reduced time for their confirmation. Thanks to the implemented technologies, the Solana blockchain supports more than 1,500 transactions per second with 400 milliseconds of block time and an average fee of $0.00025.
Avalanche is a decentralized blockchain platform for smart contracts, allowing developers to run private and public blockchains in a single highly scalable environment. The uniqueness of Avalanche lies in the fact that this platform operates based on several blockchains. That is, it is a heterogeneous network that consists of subnets operating according to different standards. The entire Avalanche ecosystem is built on three blockchains and several consensus mechanisms: X-Chain (a blockchain network for creating and exchanging digital assets), P-Chain (the network allows you to create subnets, monitors their work, and is also responsible for coordinating the work of validators), and C-Chain (a blockchain for creating and deployment of smart contracts for dApps, NFT, DeFi protocols and other products). Thanks to this separation, Avalanche has become a fast, highly scalable, and energy-efficient blockchain platform. So, the Avalanche speed is 4,500 transactions per second, and the transaction processing speed is less than 2 seconds.
Stellar is a blockchain platform that acts as a decentralized system for currency transactions, allowing users to create, trade and send tokenized assets. The user can digitize any value (by creating their own stablecoin) and then sell/buy it. Coins can be pegged to fiat currencies (euro, dollar, yuan), precious metals, stocks, and other assets. The platform is based on the Stellar Core program, which implements the Stellar Consensus Protocol (SCP) algorithm. The key properties of SCP are decentralized control, low latency (i.e., nodes reach consensus quickly), scalability, and security. The Stellar network is multifunctional: in addition to conducting exchange operations, users can develop smart contracts, deploy decentralized applications, and conduct initial coin offerings (ICOs). In addition, a decentralized exchange is built into the platform (that is, increased operations security is provided). The Stellar blockchain supports more than 1,000 transactions per second with 5 seconds settlement finality and near-zero fees.
Algorand is a blockchain platform that works with the financial sector and banking institutions. The project aims to apply its blockchain in real-world practice. The developers of Algorand claim that they are building technologies for the future financial market, which will combine traditional and decentralized solutions. They call it FutureFi. At the same time, the Algorand team assures that their blockchain solves the so-called scalability trilemma — their network is both fast, secure, and decentralized, and at the same time, very cheap and energy efficient. The blockchain is based on its own version of the Proof of Stake (PoS) — Pure Proof of Stake (PPoS) consensus algorithm. It uses a multi-level approach to scalability, which allows the Algorand network to process up to 6,000 transactions per second with 4.5 seconds settlement finality and minimal fees. Thanks to this, Algorand users can create DeFi protocols and run decentralized applications capable of working with hundreds of millions of users.
Blockchains are often blamed for low transaction speed; therefore, many say that they will never be able to compete with traditional payment systems. However, as we can see, this reproach is unfair. Blockchains can not only compete with the same Visa and Mastercard but also overtake them.
Scalability opens the way for the blockchain to go beyond the financial world — after all, high throughput is needed not only for transfers. If the blockchain is fast enough, it will become the best solution for many industries: finance, law, document management, logistics, insurance, computer games, the Internet of Things, and others.