Decentralized Applications You Can Use Today
Decentralized applications (DApps) are a new class of application which run on the blockchain. They’re not controlled by any one person. Rather, they run on peer-to-peer computer networks. A lot of money has poured into the building and launch of DApps, but 2018 is when we’re really seeing some interesting applications emerging.
The two prominent sources that collect live data trends on decentralized applications are DappRadar and StateoftheĐapps. According to StateoftheĐapps, there are more than 2,100 Đapps at the end of October 2018 with 160 new apps per month coming onto the market. The most popular categories include games, gambling, social, finance, and exchanges.
What are the driving factors?
Entertainment and social media apps have been big hits well before blockchain. People love catchy games and connecting with friends. As for digital exchanges, they’re a critical need at this infrastructure building stage. This is an emerging asset class with a huge need for liquidity to support the buying and selling of cryptoassets, which helps to smooth out price swings as trading volumes ramp up.
So what are the top ranking DApps, based on user traffic over the last 30 days? Note: rankings fluctuate since the market changes really fast so looking at traffic over 1 day may not be constructive.
Let’s focus on applications built on Ethereum since it hosts the largest market share for Đapps. Below is a brief description of several top ranking Dapps:
The top two on the list are digital assets exchanges — IDEX and EtherDelta, which highlights the importance of liquidity providers and the digital infrastructure to support tradeable markets of tokens.
- IDEX is a popular Ethereum-based decentralized exchange that allows real-time trading of digital tokens. In the last month it has attracted more than 22K unique users. IDEX uses back-end smart contracts so that digital assets are stored in a decentralized manner without a central custodian like Coinbase or Kraken. Final settlement of the trade can only be done with a user’s private key. It has a user-friendly interface that leverages an off-chain trade engine. IDEX supports Metamask and Ledger Nano S (cold storage) integration, which is a smoother, more secure way to manage one’s digital assets.
- ForkDelta is an older decentralized exchange competing head-to-head with its successor IDEX. Here users can typically trade ERC-tokens that have been released after their initial coin offering (ICO). ForkDelta has features that users expect: limit and market orders with the benefit of trustless transactions. However, ForkDelta doesn’t have the most intuitive interface for the average investor, which could be a reason why IDEX has managed to outpace ForkDelta in terms of volume and active users.
- Currently in alpha, Viuly is a video sharing platform that pays content creators and rewards video watchers. It aims to solve problems in the attention economy where centralized models like Youtube and Vimeo extract rents from advertising without allowing watchers to monetize. The Viuly ERC-20 token is the incentive mechanism that transfers value between content creators, consumers, and advertisers. Video storage is built on top of the decentralized IPFS protocol.
- Omisego is an open financial platform and payment solutions cryptocurrency built on a decentralized exchange. Their vision is to ‘unbank the banked’, meaning people wouldn’t need to depend on banks as a trusted 3rd party. Their test markets will be user mobile wallets in Southeast Asia, where the unbanked are concentrated. Omisego is among the few notable players to roll out Plasma, a sidechain solution or layer 2 solution, to scale its transaction throughput.
- Storj is decentralized cloud storage solution that provides peer-to-peer data file sharing. Storj’s file sharding is different than centralized cloud storage like DropBox or Google Drive. Centralized models face capacity limits, risks of being hacked, and low privacy given these companies manage and control user data. By contrast, Storj uses distributed hash tables to locate the sharded files, subject to encryption. Data uploaders are tenants, and data hosts are farmers. Farmers are rewarded for actively storing and maintaining files on the network. There were less than 6K of active users in the last 30 days.
- CryptoKitties is a popular game that allows players to collect, breed and trade digital cats. It was such a big hit with gamers last year that it clogged up the Ethereum network, resulting in delayed transactions and higher gas prices for users. Since then the number of players have leveled off, albeit still popular. This game works because it facilitates the exchange of non-fungible tokens as each kitty is unique. Unlike Bitcoin, which is fungible, a non-fungible token certifies the uniqueness and identity of each kitty, making it a collectable. The game’s success could usher in a host of DApps and business models that tokenize an array of assets, from fine art to real estate and online gaming.
Some takeaways: the relatively low user base shows how early we are in the blockchain ecosystem, but people clearly see a value in decentralized applications. While nowhere near mainstream adoption, the long-term growth of DApps rides on a host of factors like user experience and broader scalability challenges that comes with user growth.
So blockchain is more than just Bitcoin. And it’s definitely more than just a buzzword or a theoretical technology. It’s being used right now to build real products that are solving real problems.
What are some of your favorite DApps?