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9 Best Blockchain Protocols To Know in 2024

11 mins
Updated by Maria Petrova
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From foundational layer-1 networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum to innovative layer-2 solutions enhancing scalability and reducing gas fees, this article covers the best blockchain protocols to know in 2024. Discover how smart contracts and consensus algorithms are creating more secure and efficient ways to transact. Plus, browse the native coins and tokens powering these crypto protocols into the bull run and beyond.

Methodology

Top 9 crypto protocols in 2024

1. Bitcoin

First crypto
Type of layer
Layer-1
Consensus mechanism
PoW
Type of permission
Permissionless
Transaction speed
7 TPS

2. Ethereum

Smart contract pioneer
Type of layer
Layer-1
Consensus mechanism
PoS
Type of permission
Permissionless
Transaction speed
15-30 TPS

3. Cardano

Academic peer-reviewed
Type of layer
Layer-1
Consensus mechanism
Ouroboros (PoS variant)
Type of permission
Permissionless
Transaction speed
~250 TPS

4. Polkadot

Interoperable blockchains
Type of layer
Layer-0
Consensus mechanism
Nominated proof-of-stake (NPoS)
Type of permission
Permissionless
Transaction speed
1000+ TPS

5. Solana

High-speed blockchain
Type of layer
Layer-1
Consensus mechanism
Proof-of-history (PoH)
Type of permission
Permissionless
Transaction speed
~65,000 TPS
Bridge between blockchains
Type of layer
Layer-2
Consensus mechanism
Decentralized oracle network
Type of permission
Permissionless
Transaction speed
Depends on Ethereum

7. Polygon

Scalable layer-2 for Ethereum
Type of layer
Layer-2
Consensus mechanism
PoS
Type of permission
Permissionless
Transaction speed
~7,000 TPS

8. Ripple

Banking integration
Type of layer
Layer-1
Consensus mechanism
Ripple Protocol Consensus Algorithm
Type of permission
Permissioned
Transaction speed
~1,500 TPS

9. BNB Smart Chain (BSC)

Dual-chain architecture
Type of layer
Layer-1
Consensus mechanism
PoSA
Type of permission
Permissionless
Transaction speed
~100 TPS

Crypto protocols compared

BlockchainConsensus MechanismCoinTPSType of Layer
BitcoinProof-of-work (PoW)BTC7Layer-1
EthereumProof-of-stake (PoS)ETH~30Layer-1
CardanoOuroboros (PoS variant)ADA~250Layer-1
PolkadotNominated proof-of-stake (NPoS)DOT1000+Layer-0
SolanaProof-of-history (PoH)SOL~65,000Layer-1
ChainlinkDecentralized oracle networkLINKDepends on EthereumLayer-2
PolygonProof of-stake (PoS)MATIC~7,000Layer-2
RippleProof-of-stake (PoS)XRP~1,500Layer-1
BNB Smart ChainProof of Staked Authority (PoSA)BNB~100Layer-1

What are blockchain protocols?

Blockchain protocols are the backbone of cryptocurrencies and ensure that all transactions are secure, transparent, and immutable — meaning they can’t be altered or deleted.

When we talk about crypto protocols, we’re referring to the specific systems that different cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, use to ensure their networks run smoothly and securely. Each crypto has its own unique protocol.

Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller directly written into the lines of code. Smart contracts are a key feature of many blockchain protocols, enabling more complex transactions and applications.

The easiest way to understand the importance and magnitude of a specific crypto protocol is to consider the dominance of its native crypto. For instance, for the Bitcoin blockchain, the crypto we’re looking at is of the same name, often abbreviated as its ticker, BTC. 

As of March 29, 2024, Bitcoin, the first-ever blockchain and crypto, maintains its dominance. According to CoinMarketCap, Bitcoin’s dominance sits at 51.53%. This is the most traded crypto, followed by Ether (ETH) at 16.38% dominance. 

crypto protocol bitcoin dominance
BTC dominance: CoinMarketCap

Blockchain layers explained

In the blockchain ecosystem, different layers can help to solve different problems. Layer-1 refers to the main blockchain architecture (like the Bitcoin network or Ethereum). 

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These blockchains can become congested as use rises, leading to issues like slow transaction times and high gas fees — the cost to complete a transaction or execute a contract on the Ethereum network.

Layer-2 solutions address these issues, working on top of the layer-1 blockchain to improve scalability — the ability of the network to handle a larger number of transactions quickly and cheaply. Layer-2 solutions process transactions separately and then record them on the main blockchain, reducing the load and, hence, the gas fees.

Layer-0 chains combine technologies and protocols that underpin the blockchain ecosystem. The layer includes networking protocols, physical hardware, and other elements.

Interested in L2s? Check our guide to the top layer-2 projects in 2024.

Consensus mechanisms

Transactions are verified on a blockchain through a consensus algorithm. The most common types are proof-of-work (PoW) and proof-of-stake (PoS). 

Proof-of-work, used by the Bitcoin network, involves crypto mining. During the crypto mining process, miners solve complex mathematical problems to validate transactions. Note that this process uses a lot of energy. On the other hand, proof-of-stake (PoS) is a more energy-efficient method. Here, validators are selected based on the amount of cryptocurrency they hold and are willing to stake or lock up as a form of security.

The relationship between blockchains and cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency primarily serves as the digital coin or token that operates within blockchain networks. In blockchain systems like the Bitcoin network, cryptos are essential for compensating the participants who maintain the network, known as miners. These miners use their computational power to validate transactions and add new blocks to the blockchain. In return for their efforts, they are rewarded with cryptocurrency.

Similarly, in blockchains that use a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, participants, often referred to as stakers, lock up a certain amount of their cryptocurrency as a stake in the network. They are then selected to validate transactions and create new blocks based on the amount of crypto they hold and are willing to stake. This method not only secures the network and processes transactions but also rewards those who participate in maintaining the integrity of the blockchain.

Crypto protocols: Not made equally

Blockchain protocols are the rulebooks for how data is handled on blockchain networks. Each one is different, and various algorithms and methods are used to keep data secure, transparent, and up-to-date. These protocols do share commonalities, though, with many utilizing a native crypto: a coin or token that powers the ecosystem.

Users looking to invest in the native cryptos of top blockchain protocols should remember that decentralized assets can be volatile. Always choose a safe and secure platform to conduct transactions and a reputable crypto wallet to store your assets. Never invest more than you can afford to lose.

Frequently asked questions

Which protocol is best in crypto?

What is a crypto protocol?

What are layer-3 protocols crypto?

What are the four types of blockchain networks?

What is the best blockchain protocol?

Top crypto projects in the US | April 2024

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Iulia Vasile
Iulia Vasile is a seasoned professional in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry, working full-time in the field since 2017. With a background in computer engineering, she has the unique ability to write about complicated topics, including DeFi, NFTs, trading, and AI, in a way that is easy to understand. Iulia learned multiple programming languages while completing her Software Engineering degree in Bucharest at Politehnica University. Iulia brings her expertise and personal...
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