5 Promising Blockchain Layer-1 Networks To Watch In 2023

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Most blockchain developers will agree that Ethereum remains the most popular and important Layer-1 network today, and that’s certainly true in terms of the number of decentralized applications and cryptocurrencies it supports. 

However, it’s also true that a number of rival platforms have emerged to challenge Ethereum, offering more sophisticated capabilities while improving on its most obvious shortcomings – its slow transaction speeds and high gas fees. 

Ethereum’s inability to scale easily has resulted in a lot of interest in alternative Layer-1 blockchains, and many newer protocols have emerged to challenge it. These new blockchains are generally highly customized platforms with unique features and capabilities that enable them to support very specific use cases. More and more, it’s looking like there won’t be one overall “king” of blockchain. Instead, blockchain is morphing into a world of highly specialized chains tailored for different industries. As a result, there are a great many extremely promising new Layer-1 networks that users need to be aware of, and in this article we’re going to take a look at some of them. 

Namada

Namada first introduced itself last year, announcing its strong emphasis on transaction anonymity and security. It’s the first fractal instance of the Anoma protocol. Anoma facilitates the operation of networked fractal instances, which intercommunicate but utilize varied state machines and security models. Anoma’s architecture is an attempt to build a platform which is architecturally homogeneous but with a heterogeneous security model. Thus, different fractal instances may specialize in different tasks and serve different communities.

The goal of Namada is to satisfy both blockchain’s need for openness and transparency, and also secrecy for users. To do this, Namada has created a novel feature known as “shielded actions” that cryptographically obscures transactions. While the transaction itself is recorded onto a public ledger and remains provable, the specifics are kept secret from prying eyes. It’s an attempt to give users privacy without compromising the blockchain’s security. 

With Namada, users can conduct shielded transfers of any kind of asset, including cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens, independent of the platform they were created on, such as Ethereum or an IBC-compatible chain. Transfers are enabled by a trustless 2-way Ethereum bridge via IBC implementation on ETH, and make it possible to transfer ETH, DAI or an NFT from Ethereum to another chain, privately and with minimal latency and low fees. 

Namada has gained a lot of traction this year, notably partnering with the Osmosis decentralized exchange on Cosmos to boost its liquidity and market access. The partnership led to an airdrop of $NAM tokens to $OSMO coin holders. In addition, Namada recently announced a collaboration with Zcash, the privacy-focused cryptocurrency. Like Zcash, Namada employs zero-knowledge proofs (ZK-proofs), a cryptographic technique that makes it possible to verify transactions without revealing the sender, receiver or the transaction amount. Later this year, it will airdrop $NAM to $ZEC token holders as part of its retroactive public goods funding program. The intention is to give back to specific projects and communities that have contributed to Namada’s technology.

Most recently, the Anoma Foundation that oversees both Anoma and Namada raised $25 million in its third major funding round, led by CMCC Global. Those funds will be used to bolster the development of Anoma’s architecture and boost its ecosystem development, meaning that a good portion of the money should be used to boost Namada too.

Namada has stated that it intends to collaborate with other blockchain projects to enhance its secrecy-focused architecture. Ultimately, it believes in a world where its technology will become ubiquitous, giving users the ability to remain fully anonymous while conducting secure transactions. 

Astar Network

Founded in 2020 by blockchain developer Sota Watanabe, Astar Network has emerged as one of the most widely-used smart contract platforms in Japan. It supports both EVM and WebAssembly environments with interoperability enabled by a cross-virtual machine. The popularity of Astar Network stems from its consensus mechanism, which is designed to support dApp developers on the network. 

It does this through dApp staking, which allows network users to support their favorite projects instead of staking to secure the network. It’s an elaborate system that’s designed to grow the network by rewarding both builders and participants. Other blockchains, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, only award transaction fees to miners and validators, while developers are forced to pay gas fees to deploy their dApps. That’s not the case with Astar, which splits each block reward into two parts, with 50% going to block validators and the other 50% going to dApp developers. 

Astar refers to this dApp staking system as a “Build2Earn model”, with developers earning rewards based on the amount of tokens users have staked on their dApps. In this way, the developers of the most popular dApps earn greater rewards than those that are less popular, ensuring that the network is incentivized in a balanced and fair way. 

In recent months, Astar has made strong progress, partnering with two of Japan’s biggest enterprises, Toyota and Sony. Toyota announced in February that it will sponsor a Web3 hackathon on Astar, with developers tasked with building an intra-company decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, to enable more efficient business decision-making for Toyota’s management. 

Astar’s partnership with Sony saw the launch of a Web3 incubation program for projects focused on NFTs and DAOs. Sony said the goal is to explore how blockchain can solve various problems within the industries it operates, and will consider investing in the best projects that emerge from this initiative. 

Camino Network

There has been a lot of talk in the blockchain industry of the need for “industry-specific” chains that are customized to handle very specialized applications, and that is precisely the focus of Camino Network

Its creator Chain4Travel has created a public and permissioned Web3 blockchain that’s designed to support the global travel industry. It hopes to usher in a new era of decentralized travel-related products, services and applications. 

Camino is the first and only L1 blockchain designed to cater specifically to the travel industry, and it’s run, maintained and governed by travel industry participants. The basic idea is that it will allow travel industry players to innovate for themselves, rather than relying on technology giants such as Google and Booking.com. 

It’s built atop of a complex blockchain architecture made up of three chains – the Exchange Chain (X-Chain), Platform Chain (P-Chain) and Contract Chain (C-Chain) – with all three validated and secured by its primary network. The X-Chain is a decentralized network for creating and trading in digital assets, which can represent real-world assets such as equity, while the P-Chain is a metadata blockchain that coordinates validators and enables the creation of subnets. Finally, the C-Chain enables users to create smart contracts for dApps. 

Camino Network has been a work in progress for some time, and earlier this year it finally hit the big time with the launch of its mainnet, backed by a host of big name industry brands, including Lufthansa, Eurowings, Hahn Air, TUI, DER Touristik, and Sunnycars. All told, Camino Network is backed by more than 80 major travel industry players, and with such strong support behind it, we can expect to see a lot of new advances in the coming months. 

EOS

EOS might not be a “new” blockchain but it is very much enjoying a new lease of life in 2023. Veteran crypto users will remember EOS as the blockchain that raised a bumper $4.2 million in an ICO back in 2018, only to fail miserably at building on that. The EOS network was billed as being faster and more scalable than Ethereum or any other blockchain for that matter, but its development quickly stalled. 

Block.one, formerly the main developer of EOS, basically took the ICO money and ran, neglecting to develop the project further. That caused a revolution by EOS investors, who eventually created a new organization called the EOS Network Foundation and wrested control of the network. Since that happened in late 2021, the ENF has gotten to work advancing EOS, firm in the belief that it can still live up to its potential. 

EOS is designed to support the development of dApps, similar in many ways to Ethereum. Notably, dApp development is easier on EOS because it provides an operating system-like set of functions and services that dApps can easily make use of. 

With ENF CEO Yves La Rose now at the helm, the project has made strong progress this year. In April, it announced the beta launch of its Ethereum Virtual Machine mainnet to increase interoperability between EOS and Ethereum. The EOS EVM is deployed on the EOS blockchain as a smart contract and written in Solidity, and provides various tools, resources and open-source libraries for developers. It’s designed to improve Ethereum by bridging the two networks. With it, developers can use the vast resources of Ethereum to build dApps, while taking advantage of EOS’s one-second block interval speeds and support for 800 swaps per second. 

At the same time, EOS announced an alliance with the market maker DWF Labs, which will invest $60 million into the project. Under the deal, DWF will purchase $45 million worth of $EOS tokens and pump a further $15 million into EOS-based projects. 

In a further sign of its progress, EOS in April announced the release of Antelope Leap 4, an upgraded software kit, which can be used to improve node synchronization between EOS and Antelope, Telos, UX Network and WAX, the main networks within the Antelope ecosystem. 

Sui Network 

One of the most exciting Layer-1s for DeFi developers is the Sui Network, which is designed to support a broader network of cryptocurrency tokens and dApps, similar to Ethereum. 

What excites developers about Sui is its promise of instantaneous transaction finality, together with low-latency smart contract deployment and incredibly rapid overall transaction speeds. Sui achieves this by using Move, a programming language that’s based on Rust. Move, which is also used by rival networks such as Aptos, is designed to make smart contract development easier. Move was originally created by the team building Facebook’s now defunct Diem blockchain. 

With Sui’s proof-of-stake consensus algorithm, validators replace the miners used in Bitcoin’s blockchain. Users can stake $SUI tokens to validate transaction in return for rewards. What sets Sui apart though is it enables the parallel processing of transactions to increase throughput, reduce latency and enhance its scalability. It’s a system that Sui says will better support applications such as gaming and retail payments that need to be highly scalable. 

Sui is now ready for prime time after launching the Sui Network mainnet in March. “Today is a monumental milestone for the entire Sui community and the digital asset ecosystem as a whole,” said the Sui Foundation’s managing director Greg Siourounis of the launch. “For the first time, builders and users have access to a Layer 1 blockchain that allows developers to build freely, without being inhibited by complex infrastructure, and unlocks endless possibilities for users across the world.”

On June 1st, Sui Network announced that it has struck a multi-year partnership with the Red Bull Formula One racing team, just weeks after launching its mainnet. Sui has been named as Red Bull’s “official blockchain partner” and intends to work with the team to demonstrate how Web3 can better enable human connections through “digital immersive experiences” for racing fans.