Solana The Visa of Crypto Network

What is Solana?

Solana is a crypto-computing platform that aims to achieve high transaction speeds without sacrificing decentralization. 

Like Ethereum, Solana is both a cryptocurrency and a flexible platform for running decentralized apps (dapps) — everything from Degenerate Apes to the Serum decentralized exchange (or DEX). Its major innovation is speed, via a bundle of new technologies including a consensus mechanism called proof of history (PoH). Solana can process around 50,000 transactions per second — compared to 15 or less for Ethereum (the ETH2 upgrade, which is currently underway, is designed to make Ethereum much faster than it is now).

Because Solana is so fast, congestion and fees remain low. Developers hope high speeds and low fees will eventually enable Solana to scale to compete with centralized payment processors like Visa. 

Solana’s native cryptocurrency is SOL, which is used to pay transaction fees and for staking. It also gives holders the right to vote in future upgrades. SOL is available to buy and sell via exchanges like Coinbase, Binance, KU coin, OKEX, Kraken, Gemini.

Native to Solana’s blockchain is the SOL token which provides network security through staking as well as a means of transferring value.

Solana was created in 2017 by Anatoly Yakovenko alongside current Solana board member and Chief Operations Officer Raj Gokal. Yakovenko, now Solana Lab’s CEO, came from a background in system design and wanted to apply his knowledge toward a new blockchain paradigm that enabled faster processing speeds.

The cryptocurrency that runs on the Solana blockchain—also named Solana (SOLUSD) and with the ticker symbol SOL—has soared almost 12,000% so far in 2021,2 and with a market capitalization of over $66 billion, it is the fifth-largest cryptocurrency by this measure. 

How Solana Works?

As a developer, you can get started with Solana building your decentralized app or marketplace. An application interacts with a Solana cluster by sending it transactions with one or multiple instructions. The Solana runtime then passes those instructions to programs deployed by the app developers beforehand. These instructions get executed in sequential order and atomically for each transaction.

To run a validator node to secure the network and earn rewards in exchange, you need to connect to a Solana cluster first. There are devnet clusters, testnet clusters, and mainnet beta clusters.

Solana also runs a token program. Creating tokens or accounts through this program requires the native token SOL for rent deposits and transaction fees. Moreover, if your targeted cluster offers a faucet, you can get a little SOL for testing.

The token swap program of Solana allows simple trading of token pairs without a centralized limit order book, implementing a mathematical formula called Curve that mimics normal market dynamics. Depositors in the pool provide liquidity for the token pair enabling trade execution at spot price.

In exchange, depositors receive pool tokens, representing their fractional ownership in the pool and the program withholds a portion of the input token as a fee. Solana also runs a lending protocol on its blockchain, inspired by other DeFi lending protocols such as Aave and Compound.

You can also add Solana’s native token SOL to your crypto exchange. When it comes to wallets, Solana supports several types, including app wallets or a browser-based web wallet, that offer a more familiar user experience. Advanced users or developers can leverage the command-line wallets that support the newest features available on Solana before they are integrated into third-party wallets. To receive SOL coins on the Solana blockchain, you must create a wallet.

Solana clusters work as the foundation of Solana’s overall functional architecture. A Solana cluster is a set of validators working together. They serve client transactions while maintaining the integrity of the ledger. These clusters may coexist. When two clusters share a genesis block, they either converge or ignore the existence of the other. Transactions sent to the wrong one are ultimately rejected.

Solana’s Blockchain

Solana runs on a hybrid protocol of proof-of-stake (PoS) and a concept Solana calls proof-of-history (PoH). Proof-of-stake is an algorithm that lets a blockchain maintain accurate information across all of its participants.

Proof-of-stake

With Proof-of-Stake, cryptocurrency owners pledge, or “stake,” their coins to a validator.

A validator is a computer running the blockchains software with its own copy of the blockchain. These validators are the equivalent of miners in a proof-of-work blockchain like Bitcoin’s.

Instead of competing with other computers to complete complex puzzles like in Proof-of-work, validators are chosen to add the next block of transactions based on how large their stake is (how many coins they have pledged to the network), how long they have staked for and a number of other criteria.

The idea is to measure the level of commitment network participants have and reward them for their dedication. The larger the stake relative to circulating supply, the more decentralized and secure the network becomes.

What is proof-of-history?

Proof-of-history is a method for proving that transactions are in the correct sequence and found by the right leader.

Solana’s blockchain is broken into slots or periods of time where a validator ingests transactions and produces a block. In this system, leaders are chosen ahead of each slot in order to save time. 

A node (or validator) is chosen to be a “leader” of a slot through the proof-of-stake mechanism based on the quantity of SOL held. Each validator is responsible for continuing a count or tally of the passage of time, known as a proof-of-history sequence, and the next block of transactions for the slot they have been chosen for. 

How proof-of-history works

  1. Validator A is assigned to slot one and spends five seconds finding the next block.
  2. Validator B is assigned slot two and takes five seconds to find the following block, amounting to the passage of 10 seconds.
  3. Validator C is assigned to slot three and takes five seconds to find a block. By the end, a total of 15 seconds have passed.

It takes each validator the same amount of time to complete this process. We know validator C is assigned to slot three and because each block takes the same amount of time, we know that slot three should only begin at the 10-second mark. Therefore, validator C cannot start before or after the tally has reached 10 seconds.

Because this tally of the passage of time can be seen by all validators, and the slot leaders are chosen ahead of time, everyone knows when a leader is supposed to begin. If there were a fourth validator (validator D) chosen as the leader for slot four, all parties would know that validator D is only allowed to begin at the 15-second mark. 

Why use proof-of history?

This system lowers latency and increases throughput because slot leaders can stream transactions to the rest of the validators in real-time rather than waiting to fill an entire block and send it at once. 

As validators keep the count of time, they can stamp each incoming transaction with a time, or proof-of-history value, so the other nodes can order transactions within a block correctly even if they aren’t streamed in chronological order. The other nodes can then verify these transactions as they come in rather than having to review an entire block of transactions at once.

What Does Solana Do?

Solana can power several applications that offer a variety of features:

  • Currency: With a cryptocurrency wallet, you can use Solana to send or receive the coin or transfer it in exchange for goods and services.
  • Smart contracts: Smart contracts are apps that automatically execute the terms of the contract when its conditions have been fulfilled.
  • Non-fungible tokens (NFTs): Often associated with digital art, NFTs can be powered with Solana, allowing artists and others to sell them to consumers.
  • Decentralized finance: With Solana, you can create and use permission-less payments, ones that can avoid centralized or government control.
  • Digital apps: Besides its other functions, Solana supports the development of a range of other apps, including games, investing, social media and more.
  • Proof of history approach: In addition to a proof of stake approach to validate transactions, Solana timestamps them, eliminating the ability to re-order transactions to a validator’s advantage. This helps make Solana a “censorship-resistant” network.

Again, think of Solana as a token that can power various apps rather than merely as a currency that transfers monetary value from one person to another.

What Makes Solana Unique?

When Bitcoin was invented more than a decade ago, it solved a tricky problem: how to make it possible for strangers anywhere in the world to make financial transactions over the internet without financial intermediaries and payment processors like Visa or Mastercard assisting the transaction.   

The technology that makes decentralized transactions possible — and which created the universe of cryptocurrencies we now know — is called a blockchain. But, blockchains previously had one major downside compared to centralized networks like the ones credit-card companies use: they’re slower. As of August 2021, Ethereum typically processes fewer than 15 transactions per second, compared to tens of thousands for Visa’s network. 

Solana is one of many new crypto solutions aiming to make crypto networks faster and more scalable. It uses a suite of clever technologies, including a novel mechanism called “proof of history.”

Solana is known in the cryptocurrency space because of the incredibly short processing times the blockchain offers. Solana’s hybrid protocol allows for significantly decreased validation times for both transaction and smart contract execution. With lightning-fast processing times, Solana has attracted a lot of institutional interest as well.

The Solana protocol is intended to serve both small-time users and enterprise customers alike. One of Solana’s main promises to customers is that they will not be surprised by increased fees and taxes. The protocol is designed in such a way as to have low transaction costs while still guaranteeing scalability and fast processing.

Combined with the longstanding professional expertise creators Anatoly Yakovenko and Greg Fitzgerald bring to the project, Solana is ranked number 7 in the CoinMarketCap ranking as of September 2021.

This came on the back of an impressive bull run, where Solana price gained over 700% since mid-July 2021. The launch of the Degenerate Ape NFT collection sent SOL price to an all-time high (ATH) above $60, and it has been climbing since, largely due to higher developer activity on the Solana ecosystem, greater institutional interest, growing DeFi ecosystem, and the rise of the NFTs and gaming vertical on Solana. Solana price rose to an ATH of $216 on Sept. 9, 2021.

Solana Pros

Solana can process a blistering 50,000 transactions per second with exceptionally low fees (less than $.01).

Solana has achieved high levels of scalability by leveraging the Proof of History and several other breakthrough innovations.

With billions of users on board, Solana has achieved economies of scale and kept the application fees extremely low.

Solana ensures composability between projects. Users do not need to deal with multiple shards or layer-2 systems.

Solana Cons

Many implementations still await their launch on the Mainnet Beta version.

Satisfactory hardware setup for Solana is relatively costlier.

Solana has been criticized for not being decentralized enough.

No clear roadmap yet

NFTs And Smart Contracts

The NFT industry has gone crazy over the last year. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) became a high-growth industry following the epic sale of the NFT ‘Everyday’ by digital artist Michael Winkelmann (known as Beeple) at Christie’s for $69 million. The NFT market exploded with NFT platforms opening online to sell a wide range of NFTs.

Capitalising on this expanding industry is a savvy move, and Solana jumped into the market to share the NFT action.

Solana is gaining market share with Solanart, the NFT marketplace running on the Solana network. The biggest bonus for NFT buyers on the Solanart marketplace is faster transactions and lower fees.

Most NFT marketplaces require Ethereum (ETH) as payment. The problem with that is Ethereum fees are high. You could buy an NFT for $100 and pay $70 in ETH fees, for instance. Solanart has a massive appeal for investors wanting to buy an NFT but not wanting to get stung by high transaction fees.

Smart contracts are code allowing blockchains to run DApps (decentralised applications). The Ethereum network was the first to introduce smart contracts but has experienced problems with network congestion. Solana is a faster alternative for smart contracts

Best Solana Apps

The Solana Blockchain was built for developers. It makes it easy and safe to create stunning decentralized apps and software. Developers are hard at work assembling all types of apps for Solana, including finance apps, DeFi apps, NFT marketplaces, play-to-earn games, crypto wallets, and more.

Step Finance

Step Finance lets you stay up to date on your crypto positions. Once your wallet is connected, you’ll be able to take control and understand your investment portfolio better.

The system gives you complete views of your LPs, tokens, yield farms, and positions. You receive valuable metrics that can help you make educated decisions on your finances and crypto positions.

Information in the app is aggregated from Raydium, SerumDex, and Orca. You’ll find your wallet balances, LP tokens, yield farms, staking positions, and DEX positions included in the information provided by Step Finance. The app will also offer investment strategies and swap aggregation services.

Star Atlas

Star Atlas is hoping to be the 1st massively multi-player metaverse on the Solana Blockchain.

The developers at Star Atlas describe their game as “A grand strategy game of space exploration, territorial conquest, political domination, and more.” The art style and imagery are breathtaking and evokes feelings of Dune mixed with No Man’s Sky.

There is currently a marketplace where you can buy various collectibles, ships, and structures that you can use once the game releases.

Half strategy game, half roleplaying game, we are excited to see what the team at Star Atlas will develop in the future. Look for Star Atlas late in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Orca

Do you need to exchange crypto while on the Solana Blockchain? Orca has you covered.

Choose from a variety of Solana wallets, including Phantom, Sollet, Solflare, and Mathwallet. Once connected, you have the opportunity to transfer, send and receive all types of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Orca also features swap tokens, liquidity pools, and yield farming programs to take your tokens to the next level.

Transactions on Orca and Solana are incredibly fast, and gas fees are low. These benefits make any Solana-based project attractive to traders and investors.

Phantom

Almost any transaction on the blockchain will require a wallet. Phantom is Solana’s answer and makes it safe and secure to send transactions through the Solana Blockchain.

Phantom is a small extension that you can add to your web browser. It allows a wide range of transactions, including sending NFTs, token swaps, Web3 application transactions, and SOL staking.

Phantom wallet is incredibly secure and always protects your privacy. They do not store any identifiable information on your account or asset balances.

The extension is available for most popular web browsers, including Chrome, Brave, Firefox, and Edge.

Best Solana Dapps

Decentralized apps (Dapps) are applications that are on a decentralized network. They use a smart contract and a frontend user interface. Dapps can be almost anything from games to NFT collectible markets.

Solana has incredible speeds and low transaction fees, making it a great blockchain to develop Dapps for.

Aphid

Aphid uses artificial intelligence to create bots that consumers and businesses can control.

The system has its action token powered by Solana. Ownership of the aBion token allows owners to deploy bots that will help you start earning more tokens and money instantly.

Aphid has a workforce leveraging system ledger. Here, users can save time and money by employing their bots to perform operations for them. Once the bot completes a task, the ledger processes commission and sends transactions to the Solana blockchain.

Some of the exciting uses of Aphid include digital sales agents for your eCommerce website, automated crypto, forex, and stock trading, and app development services.

MetaSafari

MetaSafari has an epic vision to merge the metaverse with the physical world. The developers are planning a multi-chain, multi-tribeNFT based metaverse platform.

Currently in pre-alpha phase 0, MetaSafari has its first planned NFT drop on September 21st, 2021. Endangered animal NFTs will be priced at 3 SOL and can be minted by using Sollet or Phantom wallet.

MetaSafari also plans to release another NFT collection in 2022. The NFTs collection titled Alt Saints (Alternative Saints) got its inspiration from both religious icons and the environment. Other plans include phase 1 free NFT upgrades and phase 2 fractionalized NFTs that you can trade for parts.

Saber

Saber has quickly become the most popular cross-chain stablecoin exchange for the Solana Blockchain.

Saber (SBR) has a token that is pegged to USD. This feature makes transfers between other stablecoins like USDT and USDC simple, safe, and accessible.

You can also deposit crypto into a liquidity pool or yield farm to earn passive income through transaction fees, token-based incentives, and automated DeFi Strategies.

Solanart

Solanart is the first and largest NFT marketplace based on Solana. Transactions on Solanart are quick and incredibly affordable compared to any NFT marketplace based on Ethereum networks. You can save yourself thousands of dollars in gas fees by minting, buying, or selling your NFTs on Solanart.

You can handle collections through the most popular Solana wallets, including Phantom, Sollet.IO, and Solflare.

While not as popular as ETH projects like OpenSea, Solanart is quickly becoming one of the hottest NFT marketplaces out there. Some of the most popular projects on Solanart include Degen Ape Academy, Aurory, SolPunks, Bold Badgers, and Sollamas.

Buying and selling NFTs has never been easier on the Solana Blockchain.

Best Solana DeFi Projects

DeFi covers all types of financial applications based on decentralized apps and networks. Solana has some of the best DeFi projects that will meet your needs, from apps that will make automated decisions to smart contracts.

Raydium

Raydium is a full-featured DeFi project built on the Solana blockchain. It allows you to trade quickly, earn through yield farms, and provide liquidity for any token.

Utilizing staking, liquidity pools, and yield farms are intuitive and easy on Raydium. You’ll also have no problem swapping tokens throughout the blockchain while using the Dapp.

Are you a developer that is creating a new Solana project? Raydium offers its AcceleRaytor program. AcceleRaytor provides a place for new projects to generate interest and capital for their Solana project launch.

Raydium also has a program for NFT artists called DropZone. Here you can launch your new NFT collection and help it get the promotion it deserves.

Oxygen

Oxygen hopes to power your portfolio with trading leverage, term liquidity, passive yield, borrowing to short, and option writing. This project is a DeFi prime brokerage service that hopes to democratize investing so you can make the best investments possible.

Some key features of Oxygen include multiple uses of the same collateral, cross-collateralization, and market-based pricing. These perks allow investors to earn by lending and borrowing at the same time.

All transactions on Oxygen are safe and secure. Oxygen cannot access your private information, so you can complete transactions with peace of mind.

DeFi Land

Attempting to gamify investing, DeFi Land is an agriculture simulation game. DeFi Land will aggregate different protocols to let you manage your assets from one place.

You’ll be able to experience yield farming, liquidity pools, and other investments as a game. DeFi Land is also planning a series of NFTs that will serve unique functions. Finally, you can play the game and earn crypto and tokens by completing tasks, battles, and collections.

DeFi Land is currently on course for the 4th quarter of 2021 land sale and closed beta testing of their Dapp.

Block Asset

Block Asset hopes to bridge NFT collectibles and verified athletes. The Dapp will include an NFT marketplace, blockchain event ticketing, and NFT gaming in the future.

The developers at Block Asset are using the Metaplex protocol to provide partnerships with star athletes in a wide range of leagues from around the world.

NFT ownership in Block Asset means you are part of the community. This feature gives you voting rights on future advancements of the project and options for staking and yield farming your investments.

Future upgrades to Block Asset are planned, including play-to-earn gaming and the introduction of the BLOCK token. Owning Block will provide numerous perks, including reduced fees on NFT purchases, token staking, presale on monthly drops, and access to live events.

Serum

Serum is quickly becoming one of the most critical projects on Solana. It is beneficial for traders, developers, and algorithmic traders interested in utilizing Solana blockchain to its fullest potential.

Using Serum’s protocol allows quick transaction speeds and low transaction costs for decentralized finance applications. Compared to ETH transactions, you can easily save thousands of dollars in gas fees.

Serum Token is the governance token of Serum. Holding Serum Token (SRM) will grant owners benefits, including buy/burn of fess.

Using Solana’s blockchain means Serum can handle hundreds of orders per second and has the capability of doubling its capacity every two years. Their roadmap envisions 1 million transactions per second.

Bonfida

Bonfida is built using Serum and the Solana Blockchain. It includes a suite of features that create a bridge between Solana and Serum.

The Dapp features include DEX trading, staking, and API on-chain transactions. You also get access to extensive data analytics packages to help you grow your investments and make educated decisions regarding your investments.

Bonfida also features a detailed GUI based on Serum. Inside the GUI, you will find exclusive markets, advanced order types, and trading view charts.

Best Solana NFT Projects

Investing in and collecting NFTs has quickly become increasingly popular. From Beeple’s $69 million NFT sales to $7 million Cryptopunk sales, everyone is trying to get into NFT markets.

While the Ethereum network is still the king of NFTs, Solana is a new rival that offers faster and cheaper transactions. Here are some of the Best NFT projects available on the Solana network.

Degenerate Ape Academy

Created from 137 unique traits, 10,000 Degenerate Apes were minted on August 13th, 2021, for a price of 6 SOL ($873).

Each NFT ape is minted with a variety of traits, from common to mythic. These traits are randomly applied to each ape, giving each a unique appearance and rarity.

The 3-D digital artwork sets Degenerate Ape Academy apart from some of the more popular NFT projects that use randomized appearances and low-quality, pixel artwork.

If you missed out on the presale, you can find plenty of different Degen Apes in a variety of rarities for sale on the secondary market. Many Degen Apes are currently selling for over 110,000 SOL.

Upcoming features for Degen Apes include charity initiates, origin stories for the apes, Ape-Kart, and fractional ownership of Apes. There has not been any word on generation 2 of Degenerate Ape Academy.

Solana Monkey Business

Do you prefer pixel-art generated NFTs like Cryptopunks? Solana Monkey Business is a collection of 5000 unique and randomly generated collectibles stored on the Solana blockchain.

Solana Monkeys are generated from 99 different traits. The traits fill nine layers to create a unique NFT collectible. Many of the traits are extremely rare, and Monkeys with these traits will be extremely valuable on the secondary market.

The minting cost of 2 SOL makes Solana Monkey Business an affordable yet desirable NFT for collectors and investors. Two generations of Solana Monkey Business have already been released, with many more generations planned for the future.

SolPunks

If you are interested in jumping on the pixel art bandwagon but missed out on Cryptopunk, SolPunks has you covered. SolPunks let you show you are part of the Solana NFT ecosystem and community.

SolPunks are a series of 10,000 pixelated, randomly generated artwork collectibles. The original drop quickly sold out, and after-market prices have been sky-high ever since. Each SolPunk was minted for 3 SOL ($295). Current prices for secondary market SolPunks vary from 9 SOL to 200,000 SOL.

Each SolPunk was minted randomly during the initial drop, meaning every buyer had no idea what their SolPunk would look like. This gave every collector an equal chance to purchase SolPunks with extremely rare or unique characteristics.

Bold Badgers

Bold Badgers is another unique NFT project based on the Solana Blockchain. All attributes for the Bold Badgers were drawn by hand. Plus, the NFT is randomly generated from 170 of these traits. The stylized artwork gives Bold Badgers a unique advantage over other pixelated artwork collections.

10,000 Badgers were randomly generated from the 170 hand-drawn attributes and minted for 5 SOL ($738). Just like other NFT projects, some attributes are scarce and instantly make your NFT a highly sought-after collectible and investment.

After the initial minting was completed and sold out, Bold Badgers have seen considerable increases in value on the secondary markets. Currently, on Solanart, some of the rarest Bold Badgers are reaching prices up to 100,000 SOL ($1.4 million).

The developers are dedicated to building a community for owners of Bold Badgers and hope to make Bold Badgers a lifestyle community with prizes, competitions, and more in the future.

Sollamas

If you’re bored of punk, monkey, or ape-related NFTs, you should check out Sollamas. Owning a Sollama lets you join the herd.

Sollamas is a randomly generated NFT collection of 10,000 llamas on the Solana Blockchain. Llamas were sold individually for 4 SOL or three packs for 11.7 SOL. This makes them one of the most affordable NFTs on our list of best NFT projects on Solana.

The collection was generated from 165 attributes spanning common to artifact rarities. This means some LLamas will be highly sought after and worth thousands of dollars.

With a floor price of 3.75 SOL, investing in a Sollama NFT is quite affordable compared to other similar NFT projects. You can also find Sollama NFTs reaching prices as high as 17,777 SOL.

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