Eleven years ago, the first cryptocurrency — Bitcoin (BTC) — was launched after one person (or persons), known as Satoshi Nakamoto, decided that the banks have too much control over our finances. This was a single event that changed a lot.
It led to the creation of the cryptocurrency industry, and it also kickstarted the blockchain industry, as blockchain serves as the underlying technology for the crypto world.
However, it also led to the start of something else — the world of dApps, which was not discovered for several more years, despite the fact that Bitcoin itself was the first dApp.
In This Article:
What are dApps?
Let’s start from the beginning and answer the question of what dApps are. The short explanation would be saying that they are decentralized applications, hence the name — dApps.
But what does that mean?
Well, as you may know, decentralization is a big concept in the crypto, blockchain, and dApp industries. Basically, it means that no single entity has the authority, but that all decision-making is done by the community.
Let’s take finances as an example; In the traditional finance industry, banks run everything. They issue money, they process transactions, they have the power to freeze and unfreeze accounts, and much more. They are, basically, controlling all the money in the world.
Of course, they are limited by the law of each country, and they are being overseen by central banks, which has the power to issue additional rules, as long as they are within the limits of the law.
In the blockchain space, everything is done by the community. In fact, the community runs the blockchain through group participation. Any individual or entity can participate, but they all have a say in what will happen, what kinds of changes are to be introduced, and alike.
What are dApps Used for?
Now, let’s apply this knowledge to blockchain applications. These are open-source applications that can do pretty much anything that regular apps can do, only all of their usage is recorded on the blockchain.
There is no real limitation regarding what dApps can be. They can be finance-oriented software, blockchain games, gambling apps, streaming apps, and more.
Another thing worth mentioning is that dApps are tightly connected to a cryptocurrency project, as most activities in a dApp require some form of a small transaction to take place. For example, if you were to use a dApp designed for content creators to post their content for other people to see, they would charge a small fee for it. More often than not, these fees would be only a cent or two, often even a fraction of a cent. However, such small transactions would allow the viewer to access videos, texts, photos, and alike.
Meanwhile, the content creator would be able to earn money on their submission, and continue to support their art, or even make a living, provided that there are enough individuals that might be interested in what they have to offer.
Some dApps use the funds collected via the fees for further funding the development of the project, or to fuel the underlying network and the consensus mechanism. They can also provide users with the ability to exchange value, although this is all only scratching the surface, and there are plenty of other ways to use these funds for the good of the project, the developers, and the community itself.
Some of the most popular dApps these days are used for gambling, as mentioned, which comes with plenty of advantages. These apps act as online casinos that use cryptocurrency, which brings transparency, instant payments, and the ability to join any game at any time, no matter where you are. As long as you have access to the internet, that is.
What are the Most Popular dApp Platforms?
- dApps do not only exist on blockchain technology, and their existence actually started with P2P networks. Think of apps such as torrent clients, Popcorn Time, and alike — everything that is managed or maintained by a community, rather than a centralized authority, can be considered a dApp.
- Due to the potential and growing popularity of crypto and blockchain projects, however, the term quickly became tied to these industries.
- But, if we are talking about blockchain dApps, Bitcoin is definitely the first among them. It is an entire cryptocurrency, as well as an entire blockchain, but it still functions as a dApp meant to be used for transactions and payments.
- In fact, all crypto projects were single-purpose dApps until Ethereum came to be.
- Ethereum (ETH) unlocked the full potential of blockchain technology by shifting the attention away from cryptocurrencies themselves. With Ethereum, cryptos were no longer the point of it all, but rather a tool for creating entire decentralized ecosystems.
- They were used for running these ecosystems, as well as their smaller aspects, such as dApps. Since then, a number of blockchain projects emerged, that have tried to copy what Ethereum did, and expand on the concept, make it better, faster, cheaper, and easier to use.
- Some of the more noteworthy projects include EOS (EOS), TRON (TRX), Cardano (ADA), and alike. However, while they do have their advantages, Ethereum is still the oldest, the largest, and the most used development platform.
- It can be used for creating pretty much anything, from specific applications to new cryptocurrencies, decentralized exchanges, and more.
Top dApps in 2020
Finally, let’s talk about some of the best and most popular dApps that are being used in 2020.
CryptoKitties is a dApp created on Ethereum’s blockchain, and it is one of the oldest Ethereum dApps that is still very popular today.
The app became a sensation all the way back in 2017, and it is still a great way for newcomers in the world of decentralized technology to enter this space and become accustomed to it.
On the grand scale, CryptoKitties is not a lot more than a simple game, made for entertainment. It lets you purchase blockchain-based kitties, breed them, and sell them to make a small profit.
However, the fact that it is decentralized, developed on the blockchain; that its fun, and it offers a way to earn a small amount of crypto every time you sell one of the kitties, attracted quite a lot of people. In fact, at one point, CryptoKitties itself was responsible for around 10% of all Ethereum-based transactions.
Considering that this is the second-largest project in the crypto industry, as well as one of the most trusted ones, this is a huge amount, and CryptoKitties has a good chance to forever remain the top Ethereum app.
Highlights of Cryptokitties:
- Entertaining user experience
- It is a great way for newcomers to the crypto industry to get involved
Next up, we have IPSE, which is likely one of the top EOS dApps at this time. IPSE stands for InterPlanetary Search Engine, and it is just that — a decentralized search engine based on EOS.
This particular project uses its own InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), which is basically a hypermedia distribution protocol.
However, it has a massive potential to be the protocol that might replace HTTP someday. Most of its supporters see this as a protocol that will be used when Web 3.0 finally arrives, which is the next generation of the internet.
Meanwhile, IPSE itself acts as a regular search engine on the surface, although there are several important differences ‘under the hood.’ For example, it doesn’t feature ads, which is more than can be said for the likes of Google and its centralized competitors.
In addition, IPSE also focuses a lot on user privacy, and its privacy protection is pretty much unrivaled among search engines. Lastly, users who decide to contribute by sharing valuable data can also be rewarded with digital tokens, which is a great incentive to have people participate.
Highlights of IPSE:
- It has great potential for the future
- Addresses people’s privacy concerns
- No ads
- Offers token rewards
MakerDAO is arguably one of the most successful projects on Ethereum’s entire blockchain. This is a decentralized platform dedicated to issuing stablecoins, that is basically created on the concept of lending.
The way it works is that users can come to the platform, deposit a certain amount, and receive the same value in cryptocurrency. The cryptocurrency is backed by the deposited amount, and it is pegged to it, so that its value remains the same as the USD, for example, although it provides greater possibilities.
Those include instant payments, low transaction fees, immutability, transparency, and other such advantages that the crypto world has to offer.
MakerDAO is, of course, not unique. There are numerous other crypto lending projects out there these days. However, one thing that made it stand out is the fact that all operations are completely decentralized. In other words, neither the user nor the project itself requires a third-party in the form of a centralized firm to do anything.
Instead, in the spirit of blockchain and crypto, MakerDAO has its own governance system that uses smart contracts to regulate all operations, as well as the stability of the issued stablecoins.
Of course, there is still an interest that people have to pay while paying their DAI debt. This interest is also completely transparent and controlled by the Maker tokens’ decentralized network. This is how the project itself profits from the operations, and how it funds further development and improvements.
Highlights of MakerDAO:
- Increased transparency
- It has its DAI token, which is the only censorship-resistant stablecoin
- Available around the world
- Supported by wallets
- Great privacy elements
- Decentralized organization
4) Bank of TRON (+BTT)
Next up, we have Bank of TRON, which is a dApp based on the TRON blockchain, and it falls under the category of high-risk apps. Interestingly enough, it is not one of the gambling apps, which are typically the most popular ones on TRON. Regardless, this is a dApp with the highest number of daily active users, and it has around 12,220 of them.
Bank of TRON is a dApp that is fully automatic. It runs on TRON blockchain, and it uses smart contracts of the TRON ecosystem. These smart contracts cannot be edited, deleted, or influenced in any other way.
The bank also pays dividends to users automatically, also by using smart contracts. It supposedly provides high referral rewards, rewards for investments, and more.
Highlights of Bank of TRON:
- TRON’s most popular app judging by the number of users per day
- Fully automatic
- Based on smart contracts, meaning that it is immutable
- Users receive dividends, referral rewards and more
In the fifth spot, we have a Steem-based app, Steemit. This is a social dApp which acts as a platform for bloggers. It allows users to easily create an account, although the accounts also require verification, which can last anywhere from a few hours to days, weeks, or even months, in extreme cases.
But, once the account has been verified, the user can start writing blog posts on their own account, add tags, photos, or anything else.
Since this is a blockchain-based platform, most texts would likely have some ties to crypto or blockchain industries. However, this is not the rule and anyone can write posts about any topic they desire.
Some users do not tend to write at all. Instead, they use their accounts for posting interesting photos or their own art.
There is, of course, and incentive for doing this. If your posts end up being interesting enough, and people ‘like’ them, you get rewards in small amounts of STEEM coins. There are several different types of tokens that are included in the platform’s design, and they serve different purposes.
For example, there are tokens that can be converted into STEEM and withdrawn, as well as tokens that can be locked within the platform for a certain period. Doing so will give your own ‘likes’ on other people’s posts greater weight, and therefore, the person whose posts you end up liking will be rewarded with a greater amount of tokens.
Of course, these tokens come from the platform itself — you do not give your own coins by liking, which means that there is really nothing to lose. This ‘like’ system serves as a community-run filtering system that tends to help better-quality posts come out on top, while others tend to drop down and eventually end up lost in the sea of content.
Highlights of Steemit:
- Allows users to express themselves by giving them their own corner of the web
- Lets you earn money by writing
- Easy to navigate
- The amount of content and users is ever-growing
Lastly, we have Dice, which is another dApp coming from EOS’ blockchain. This is a full gambling app that currently has the highest number of daily users — nearly 15,000. This makes Dice the largest social gaming platform on EOS blockchain.
The dApp is pretty simple in concept — it allows users to earn DICE tokens by playing different games. Those who choose not to withdraw right away, but to stake the token — keep it locked up in their account — also receive rewards for doing so.
The platform and the token are both based on the user-centred design, which was done so that the users themselves would have the best possible gaming experience.
As for the games themselves, the platform offers pretty much all the classics, such as blackjack, roulette, baccarat, sic bo, and more.
Highlights of Dice:
- One of the most popular apps on EOS
- Largest social media gambling platform on the project
- Offers several different games
- Users can stake their winnings and get rewards
And, that’s it. There are thousands of dApps out there in the blockchain industry, many of which belong to different categories that the ones we mentioned there. There are also many, many different blockchain projects dedicated to dApp development, although we chose to list some of the most popular dApps on some of the most popular blockchains in the text above.
In other words, you can explore the dApp sector for ages and there will always be more to see, especially since their number continues to rise at all times. There is still no ‘killer dApp,’ which is a common name for a dApp that would go viral attract greater amounts of attention. Even so, the dApp sector is growing, people are getting used to it, and someday, there is a good chance that they might completely replace typical, centralized apps that we know and use right now.