Over the past decade, cryptocurrency has effectively conjured a brand new economy out of thin air. Understandably, it has become a rather controversial asset class, with smart people arguing for and against it. Even so, no one can deny the wealth this emerging asset class has created. In the last year alone, the crypto market has skyrocketed 109% to $2.1 trillion.
However, enthusiasm for more speculative assets has waned in recent months as high inflation and the prospect of rising interest rates have driven investors to look for safer alternatives. To that end, despite tremendous gains in the past year, the crypto market currently sits 29% below its all-time high.
Here’s the silver lining: Every past downturn has proved to be a buying opportunity, and there are dozens of cryptocurrencies worth owning. For instance, Cardano (CRYPTO:ADA) and Fantom (CRYPTO:FTM) look like smart-long term investments. Here’s why.
Cardano is a programmable blockchain powered by the ADA token, which currently ranks as the seventh-most-valuable cryptocurrency. In 2015, the project was started by Charles Hoskinson shortly after he left Ethereum (CRYPTO:ETH). Cardano aims to be a better version of Ethereum, and it differentiates itself in three ways.
First, the developer team has taken an academic approach to building the blockchain. Rather than rushing to complete the platform, the Cardano project was divided into five phases, focusing on the foundation, decentralization, smart contracts, scalability, and governance. Moreover, the team frequently submits research papers for academic peer review, taking an evidence-based approach to development.
Second, Cardano is secured by an eco-friendly proof of stake consensus protocol known as Ouroboros. In that system, validators stake tokens to ensure their honesty, as that stake will be forfeited in the event of fraud or an attempted attack. Unlike proof of work consensus, where miners compete based on computing power, Ouroboros randomly selects validators to add new blocks to the chain, thereby securing the network with reduced energy consumption.
Third, the upcoming fourth phase of development — expected to begin in late 2022 or 2023 — will feature Ouroboros Hydra, a scaling solution that will add multiple side chains to the core blockchain. In other words, Hydra will add additional blockchains to the platform, dividing network traffic more efficiently. In turn, Hydra will boost throughput from its current 250 transactions per second (TPS) to a theoretical 1 million TPS. That would make Cardano one of the fastest and most scalable blockchain platforms, and maybe even the top performer.
So what’s the investment thesis? Cardano has roots in peer-reviewed academic research. Its Ouroboros consensus protocol is energy efficient and highly scalable. As of Sept. 12, 2021, smart contracts are live on the blockchain, meaning an ecosystem of dApps and decentralized finance (DeFi) services should blossom in the near future. However, those products aren’t free. Users pay transaction fees using the blockchain’s native cryptocurrency. In other words, as dApps and DeFi products on Cardano become more popular, demand for ADA should rise, pushing its price higher.
Fantom brands itself as a high-throughput smart contracts platform for digital assets and dApps. The project aims to resolve two key limitations frequently found in other blockchains: a lack of scalability and a lack of interoperability. To do that, Fantom relies on a unique proof of stake consensus mechanism known as Lachesis, a protocol that allows validators on the network to calculate the time order of events independently. That means each node (computer) can achieve consensus without waiting for confirmation from every other node. In turn, that makes Fantom very fast.
In fact, Fantom can handle thousands of transactions per second (TPS), and those transactions are finalized in about one second. For perspective, Ethereum — the largest dApp and DeFi ecosystem by a wide margin — can handle about 14 TPS and it takes six minutes for those transactions to reach finality (i.e. be incorporated into the blockchain). That means Fantom is far more scalable than Ethereum, which could help it take market share.
Furthermore, Fantom is also compatible with Solidity, the programming language used to build smart contracts on Ethereum. That means developers can easily port their Ethereum-based dApps over to the Fantom blockchain, where performance is better and fees are lower. Not surprisingly, developers and investors have taken note, and Fantom actually ranks as the sixth-largest DeFi ecosystem, with over $7.1 billion invested on the platform.
Going forward, as Fantom-powered dApps and DeFi products become more popular, rising demand for FTM tokens should drive its price higher. That’s why this cryptocurrency looks like a smart long-term investment.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.