Stratis vs Ethereum | Comparing Two Smart Contract Platforms
Ethereum and Stratis are both blockchain-based platforms that can run decentralized apps (dapps) and smart contracts, but key differences — from their primary objectives, to their target user bases — may see these two projects competing less for market share than their surface-level similarities might imply.
Ethereum was designed as a distributed virtual machine built on the first Turing complete programing language for blockchains, and was the first cryptocurrency offering smart contracts and dapp capabilities.
Stratis, meanwhile, describes itself as a blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) platform, specifically designed to create blockchain solutions for financial sector corporations. It allows companies to create custom blockchain dapps and sidechains (private blockchains connected to the main chain), while providing customizable template smart contracts to suit their needs.
This Stratis vs Ethereum comparison will provide an overview and comparison between these two projects while covering the following topics:
- Ethereum Overview
- Stratis Overview
- Stratis and Ethereum Side by Side
- STRAT and ETH: Price History
First, we’ll take a look at Ethereum, the original smart contract and dapp platform that launched a whole new way of looking at blockchain technology. Ethereum’s goal when they first launched was to create a distributed, global computer, while at the same time creating a new token standard called ERC20 that would allow anyone to launch their own cryptocurrency and associated smart contracts.
The project was founded by Vitalik Buterin, who first proposed the concept in 2013 at the age of 19. Buterin was part of the Bitcoin community at the time and argued that Bitcoin needed a scripting language for decentralized applications and smart contracts.
Failing to gain support, Buterin formed his own development team (Charles Hoskinson, Mihai Alisie, and Anthony Di Iorio) and announced Ethereum’s development in January 2014. The platform officially launched in August 2015.
Ethereum is built on the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), a suite of protocols for running blockchain-based dapps.
The blockchain is maintained by network nodes that run the EVM. They all execute the same instructions and store the same information for the same dapps with high fault tolerance, near-zero downtime, and with very high permanence.
As mentioned, Ethereum was the first blockchain to implement smart contracts. These are simply self-executing contracts programmed to carry out digital transactions when certain conditions are met.
Smart contracts were first described more than two decades ago, but Ethereum is the first ever use case of smart contracts at scale. Uses for smart contracts include copyrighting content, tracking royalties, settling insurance claims, and completing financial escrow services.
Multiple smart contracts can even be designed to work together to form Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs). The most common use of Ethereum’s smart contracts and token creation system has been by companies holding Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and launching their own tokens.
Ethereum has been in heavy development since it launched and is now in its third stage of a four-stage roadmap:
- Frontier: July 2015 – the foundations were laid with a limited network and basic functionality for developing and testing dapps and smart contracts.
- Homestead: March, 2016 – added additional security features and improvements in the protocol, while laying foundations for the next development stages.
- Metropolis: October 2017 – the current stage, focused on network efficiency improvements and implementing various other features including:
- Zk-SNARK: a privacy protocol being implemented in a collaboration with Zcash handling private smart contracts and transactions.
- Proof of Stake: prototype implementation of the Proof of Stake (PoS) protocol and the beginning of Ethereum’s move away from the much less efficient and less decentralized Proof of Work (PoW).
- More Flexible and Robust Smart Contracts: self-explanatory.
- Account Abstraction: a focus on making Ethereum user-friendly.
- Sharding and Plasma: interrelated developments involving splitting the blockchain into sidechains called “shards” that will help the blockchain scale for faster transactions.
- Serenity: Date to be announced – this will transition the blockchain completely to PoS.
Currently in its start-up phase, the Stratis company was founded in the United Kingdom by entrepreneur and C# developer Chris Trew, who launched an ICO on June 21, 2016 that raised nearly $600,000.
A total of 98 million tokens were distributed after the ICO, with 85.7% (84,000,000) allocated to investors, while the remaining 14.3% (14,000,000) went to the core team for development, marketing, partnerships, and incentives programs.
The main differences between Stratis and Ethereum can be summed up in a few key points:
- Scalability: Stratis is a next generation technology designed to scale to more transactions per second than Ethereum, at least out of the gate. Reported numbers see the network handling 20,000 requests per second compared to Ethereum’s somewhere between 8 and 25 transactions per second. However, scalability improvements (PoS and Sharding) are set to increase Ethereum’s speed to up to 30,000 transactions per second.
- BaaS: Stratis uses standardized, template smart contracts that will be tested, audited and approved for businesses to use, while also offering customizable blockchains.
- Private blockchains (“sidechains”): These can be run by organizations outside of, but secured by, the main blockchain and customized to their needs. According to the Stratis white paper, these can be set up in as little as 10 minutes.
- Common Programming Language: Stratis is built on the C# programing language, a much older and popular language than the custom-made Solidity language used by Ethereum. It will run on a near-complete port of Bitcoin Core written in C# and .NET by blockchain developer Nicolas Dorier.
- Fiat Gateway Integration: Although details in the white paper are limited, Stratis claims to be implementing fiat gateways allowing the transfer of fiat currency (e.g. USD, GBP) from point to point.
- Private Transactions: Ethereum has private transactions and smart contracts on its roadmap, but Stratis intends to integrate private transactions in an upcoming version of its wallet. There is no mention, however, of private smart contracts.
- Masternodes: Holders of 250,000 STRAT or more can “stake” their coins, which will both secure the network and provide private transaction functionality, while rewarding users with more STRAT.
Stratis also intends to provide consulting services to companies, assisting them in integrating features of the platform and setting up specific smart contracts and dapps.
The current development team consists of Trew, along with Nicolas Dorier, Dan Gershony, Pieterjan Vanhoof, and Jeremy Bokobza.
One of the most unique aspects of Stratis is its use of C# as a programming language, which the company claims is a strength since many people use the language already. However, more than one developer has criticized this move, positing that there are reasons Ethereum developed its own programming language. However, it may in fact be the case that Stratis is still easier to maintain and develop compared to the traditional C++ source code of Bitcoin.
Whether development is easier or more difficult, the nStratis Development Framework (SDF) that enables Stratis’ blockchain development in C# and Microsoft’s .NET is at least a way that non-blockchain developers can begin getting into the blockchain space without learning a new language.
Stratis is still in early development, with the following development milestones set to roll out in Q1 or Q2 of 2018, with no additional specifics yet released:
- Full Node Beta: A new release of the full node GUI and functionality for network nodes.
- Breeze Privacy Protocol: The Breeze Wallet with Privacy Protocol is expected to be integrated as a Beta release.
- ICO Platform: The project is planning to launch an ICO platform, and has already done a “Test ICO” to garner feedback from the community.
- Stratis Identity: An identity application for Apple iOS, the app is set to be re-submitted for Apple verification.
- Stratis Academy: Courses are being developed for an online learning program for the Stratis platform and are set to be released.
- Smart Contracts: The alpha release is currently in development and set to be released.
- Private Sidechains: Sidechain alpha is also to be released.
Stratis launched with a price of about $0.014, reaching an all time high of $21 on January 8, 2018 before plummeting with the rest of the cryptocurrency market to its current price of about $3.50 as of writing.
Ethereum launched with a price of about $0.25 and reached its all time high of almost $1,450 on January 12, 2018. On June 21, 2017, Ethereum’s price flash crashed from close to $319 to its all time low of 10 cents in a matter of seconds, but quickly rebounded. It sits at $370 as of writing.
Ethereum is the grandfather of blockchain-based dapps and smart contracts, while Stratis is among the next generation of platforms attempting to move the technology forward for specialized use cases. Although both platforms still have a lot of development ahead of them, Ethereum has a major head start, and if all goes as planned, it may even surpass Stratis in scalability in the months and years to come. However, the approach that Stratis is taking to create a customizable private sidechain-based platform with smart contract templates may be appealing to enterprises who want an out of the box solution for integrating blockchain into their business models.
Whether or not Stratis will succeed in this endeavor to become useful beyond what Ethereum currently offers is yet to be seen, particularly since their development timeline has not yet been met. But if they do deliver on their promises, it’s quite possible that we might have another competitor in the race to become a more widely adopted, mainstream solution for integrating blockchain technology into real world use cases.
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