The Binance Smart Chain (BSC) — a blockchain for decentralized applications (DApps) that is compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) — is on a meteoric rise based on several metrics.
Daily transactions on the Binance Smart Chain surpassed that of Ethereum by over 500% last week as it saw an all-time high of nine million daily transactions on April 21, compared to Ethereum’s of 1.5 million transactions around the same day.
Not yet eight months old, the Binance Smart Chain has become the most used blockchain in terms of active unique addresses. It reached a high of one million active unique addresses on April 21, compared to Ethereum’s 700,000 on the same day.
The Binance Smart Chain runs in parallel with the Binance Chain, which was designed primarily for ultra-fast trading. BNB — the native cryptocurrency of the Binance chain — is currently ranked third with a total market value of US$88.7 billion, after Ethereum’s US$311 billion.
The Binance Smart Chain complements the Binance Chain with smart contract functionality and is compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which makes it easy for developers to port their projects over from Ethereum.
See related article: Binance report: over 100 million people are now crypto users
Ethereum is still ahead in terms of total value locked (TVL) at US$81.3 billion, according to DeFiLlama, more than double that of Binance Smart Chain’s TVL of US$34.6 billion as of publishing time. But the Binance Smart Chain’s ecosystem is growing more rapidly. Its TVL increased 30 times in the first three months of 2021, according to DappRadar data.
With more than 480 projects building on top of the Binance Smart Chain, the ecosystem has surpassed the DApp count of EOS, which has the second highest number of DApps after Ethereum.
Andrew Kang, managing partner at Mechanism Capital, a crypto fund, said in a tweet: “BSC activity is on a monster parabola with no signs of stopping. It is apparent that while the pie is growing, BSC is capturing the lions share of the new retail entrants.”
What’s driving Binance Smart Chain’s rise?
The majority of DApps such as DeFi protocols, NFTs and games still operate on Ethereum. With the rise of DeFi and NFTs over the last year, the Ethereum network has been plagued by congestion and increased transaction costs or “gas fees,” leading to DApps moving or expanding to other chains that can provide faster transactions and scalability at a lower cost.
The Binance Smart Chain has emerged as a strong contender. Gas fees on the Binance Smart Chain were 14 times lower than on Ethereum at the end of March, according to DappRadar. While Ethereum relies on an open and decentralized community of miners solving complex algorithms (proof of work), the Binance Smart Chain is more centralized and uses a system of closed and prevetted validators (permissioned “proof of staked authority”), which allows it to achieve a higher throughput.
PancakeSwap, a decentralized exchange (DEX) and automated market maker (AMM), built on the Binance Smart Chain, has been one of the drivers of the network’s growth. PancakeSwap-related transactions on Binance Smart Chain surpassed the number of transactions on the Ethereum blockchain for three consecutive days this month.
PancakeSwap — Binance Smart Chain’s version of Ethereum’s Uniswap and SushiSwap — enables users to swap between crypto assets as well as generate crypto through yield farming or liquidity mining with their crypto holdings. The low gas fees on the Binance Smart Chain allow small scale investors to participate in yield farming. PancakeSwap’s TVL is currently US$8.9 billion compared to US$6.6 billion and US$4.4 billion for Ethereum’s Uniswap and SushiSwap respectively.
Another reason for PancakeSwap’s popularity is that it is one of the main exchanges for trading SafeMoon, a DeFi cryptocurrency that launched last month and is similar to meme coin Dogecoin. SafeMoon, which attracted a lot of attention on social media, has seen its price surge by over 1,000% over the past month, but concerns are emerging on whether it could be a scam or a Ponzi scheme.
According to a recent report by derivatives exchange Deribit: “In many ways, the growth of BSC and PancakeSwap is a reinforcement of a truth that the space has known for a while: the majority (especially retail) won’t care about decentralization until they’re given a reason to. Especially with the repeated delays in Ethereum scaling solutions, BSC has offered a way for individuals to participate in many of the best features of DeFi in ways that they otherwise would not have had.”
“At present, PancakeSwap has much of the retail active users and attention, but this could shift as BSC runs into scaling problems with data storage just as Ethereum is running into scaling problems with the delay of EIP 1559 and the likely liquidity fragmentation that will result from Layer 2 adoption,” the Deribit report added.
‘A multi-chain future may become a reality’
The internet is rife with conjecture and speculation on Ethereum’s rivals and which ones, if any, could emerge as an “Ethereum killer.” But experts say it is unlikely that Ethereum will be displaced altogether. What is more likely to prevail is cross-chain interoperability where users can easily transfer assets across chains.
Ethereum is in the midst of its Ethereum 2.0 transition from a “proof-of-work” to “proof-of-stake” protocol to make Ethereum more scalable, secure and sustainable. Earlier this month, Ethereum’s Berlin upgrade, which was meant to optimize the usage of gas fees and improve the security of the network, was successfully deployed. Its next network upgrade, named London, is scheduled to take place in July or August. The upgrade will incorporate the EIP-1559 on fee market change and is expected to improve the efficiency of Ethereum transaction fees.
See related article: Ethereum’s Berlin upgrade goes live. What’s next for Ethereum?
“The adoption of Binance Smart Chain is in my view pivotal in the history of crypto. This is the first time a chain besides Ethereum has found genuine adoption. It shows which properties lead to adoption, and reveals a multi-chain future may become a reality,” said @Privatechad_ , a self-described “angel investor,” in a tweet thread.
“I think this is all extremely bullish for Ethereum. It will have a pivotal place within the crypto industry (even in a multi-chain universe) and the onboarding of new users through e.g. BSC is valuable also for Ethereum.”