The Web3 space tends to be tribal, with community members defending their blockchain as the "best" blockchain. I have a controversial take: There is no "best" blockchain, but there are best blockchains. Most people tend to focus on layer 1 (L1) solutions that claim to be the fastest or that support the largest number of transactions per second.
Yet, we’re ultimately faced with a set of tradeoffs in our design approaches that can make a blockchain better or worse for a particular use case, but not better or worse on an absolute scale. Transaction throughput is only one of a set of critical attributes that also include security, decentralization, censorship resistance, programmability, interoperability, etc. In this L1 design space, there is no correct set of these choices, rather different attributes and use cases for which you can optimize.
Blockchains should be able to focus on their distinctive strengths and rely on other chains for things at which they don’t excel. Rather than a chain claiming to be the best solution for everything, what we really need is a way to easily access and utilize a variety of chains (and their unique strengths) to support the needs of an application and its users. A key trend in the coming years will be the combination of different specialized chains into native multi-chain applications that are more scalable, more efficient and create unified user experiences.
A varied toolset offers more solutions
Most people would probably love to own a Lamborghini, delighting in the thrilling speed. However, if that same person was driving through the tight alleyways of Rome, their car of choice might be a Fiat, something small and safe to navigate the narrow corridors. Then again, if they’re helping their best friend move, a pickup truck would probably be the best option, something that excels at storage capacity and hauling.
There is no objectively best car because the context of what the car will be used for matters. High-performance, superfast engines have their place, but so do the more utilitarian solutions.
The Web3 ecosystem is like a garage full of cars; there are a lot of choices, but we drive the vehicles that best suit our specific purpose at the time. If we allow a blockchain to focus on its unique strength and being truly great at a specific function, we can look to other chains for things that specific chain isn’t good at.
Imagine a chain that is optimized for storing and managing user identities, a chain that has full Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) support for arbitrary smart contract logic and a chain that is optimized for storing data. All three of these chains are each good at a particular set of use cases, but not all of the use cases.
As a developer building an application, it is very limiting to choose only one of these chains to deploy to. A much better option is to use all three chains, each for what they are best at. The application could leverage specialized identity, smart contract and storage functionality, combining these three elements into a single, stronger application.
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Complexity defers mass adoption
When someone asks what the best blockchain is, they’ve already framed the question in the wrong way. The world needs various blockchains that specialize in different use cases or that carry different workloads. The key enablers for this vision of the future are an easy way to create blockchains, combined with the ability to connect these blockchains together in a secure way while allowing them to interoperate. Unfortunately, most blockchains today are still islands that do not natively work together.
Ethereum is the most built-upon blockchain, but it has some well-known drawbacks in its current form. The most obvious are high transaction fees and throughput. Layer 2 (L2) scaling solutions are an attempt to address the scalability issues on Ethereum but can cause more confusion because they introduce a second blockchain and users now have to be adept at using both. While L2s have done a good job at helping solve throughput issues, the overall user experience has suffered from additional backend components that the user needs to track and understand.
Asset bridges are another infrastructure component that developed from the need for moving assets between chains. However, this approach to interoperability also brings user experience challenges due to the introduction of more transactions, more steps and more layers of security assumptions on top of the base L1s they are connecting. There is no standardized bridge design, so not all are created equal. In the worst-case scenarios, this can lead to everything being more difficult to use and less secure on each side of the bridge.
The increasing complexity of DeFi and other protocols leads to increasing complexity for users. This stands in contrast to Web2 user experiences, which require the user to know less and less about the infrastructure they are interacting with. This increasing complexity in the user experience is a major inhibitor of broader adoption.
Unified large-scale, long-term solutions
There already are many blockchains and there will be many more in the future, each specializing in different use cases and in servicing different workloads. We are at the beginning of a big shift in how Web3 applications are built. Developers are moving from single-chain to multi-chain deployments.
Web3 applications will hopefully begin to incorporate specialized functionality from multiple chains, which will be faster and more scalable than existing approaches. Developers will hopefully be able to choose the functionality they need based on their specific requirements and combine these specialized functions into a single application with a single user experience.
Native interoperability among these components means that the end-user doesn’t need to know about all of the different blockchains with which they interact. Keeping the end-user interactions reasonably abstract and high-level will be a great help in bringing broader end-user adoption.
Derek Yoo is CEO & founder of Moonbeam.
This article was published through Cointelegraph Innovation Circle, a vetted organization of senior executives and experts in the blockchain technology industry who are building the future through the power of connections, collaboration, and thought leadership. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Cointelegraph.