Even in being the top smart contract platform to date, Ethereum is still small, at least relatively speaking. This reality doesn’t mean heavyweights in the making haven’t already sprouted up within the Ethereum’s young and promising ecosystem, however.
Indeed, there are already early decentralized finance giants like Maker and Compound. Early digital collectibles giants have blossomed too, like CryptoKitties and SuperRare. And then there’s Ethereum’s young virtual world hits, namely Decentraland and Cryptovoxels.
But what about the interesting Ethereum projects that are newer and underestimated but also have big potential going forward? To attempt answering that question, let’s examine some of the most promising and lesser-known projects on Ethereum that have generally flown under the radar so far.
RocketPool is an “Ethereum 2.0” staking-as-a-service project.
Ethereum is embracing the proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus model in a few weeks’ time. This will mark a major shift from Ethereum’s original and temporary proof-of-work (PoW) system. This significant technical pivot will open up all kinds of new Ethereum staking infrastructure plays, and it’s here we cue in RocketPool.
RocketPool is one of the earliest Ethereum 2.0 staking startups to hit the scene. It’s early, and bigger plays may flex RocketPool out of the game later, but as far as first-mover advantage goes, Rocket Pool is one of the most promising early “eth2” staking projects the cryptoeconomy has seen yet.
Microsponsors is a new peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace centered around auctioning off users’ professional time.
The project is a relatively new arrival within the Ethereum community, but it’s also a promising one. Specialists can use the Microsponsors platform to auction consulting period slots, for instance.
A prime example of the project’s potential came this past week when Gonçalo Sá, the co-founder of ConsenSys Audits, auctioned off a prized one-day project security review to the highest bidder.
In recent weeks, the DeFiSnap and DeFiZap projects have respectively been some of the most promising enterprises in Ethereum’s DeFi arena.
The good news for everyone, then, is the two darling projects have now merged under the banner of Zapper.fi — the so-called “ultimate hub for DeFi.” As the newly melded organizations explained on May 1st:
“DeFiSnap’s intuitive dashboard to easily track positions paired with DeFiZap’s system of smart contracts to deploy capital across multiple DeFi protocols in one transaction, create a holistic user experience to tap into and monitor the wider DeFi ecosystem.”
MetaGame is an Ethereum project that casts all the work around Ethereum as a game, and awards that game’s “players” accordingly. It’s not for everyone, to be sure, but it has the ingredients for a cult classic in the making.
The in-progress “real-life role playing game” characterizes itself as a massive online coordination game focused around Ethereum, and in that regard the possibilities around the project are absolutely wide open. Join in, help Ethereum, and build clout in other words.
Zooming out, MetaGame is a very interesting mix of gaming, freelancing, and social media, and it’s worth watching going forward as such.
At this point, the Sablier project is well-known by DeFi’s diehards. But that doesn’t mean the payments dApp isn’t underestimated in the here and now generally speaking. It deserves a lot more attention accordingly.
It’s likely you’ve heard of the project by now: Sablier is a real-time payments application that allows you to stream Ethereum tokens by the second to payees.
You don’t have to be a major Ethereum bull to understand why real-time, streamed payments are valuable. But Etheruem and Sablier make that dynamic possible now, and that certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.
Want to manage your project’s subscriptions and memberships in decentralized fashion? Then Unlock Protocol is definitely a solution for you to consider.
Unlock Protocol is a tool for “memberships built on a blockchain,” and its open-source system allows users to permissionlessly paywall their content, at which point such content is unlockable for a specified fee payable in ether (ETH).
“Unlock lets you easily lock and manage access to your content, apps, community and even real life events and spaces,” the project explains on its landing page. In this vein, Unlock’s useful precisely because it’s open and not controlled by a centralized organization.
Lock Protocol is a “timelock” project built on Ethereum. It allows users to safely store their ETH and ERC-20 tokens in smart contracts per fixed albeit customizable schedules.
Why lock your crypto in smart contracts, you ask? Consider this example: with Lock Protocol, you can create a “savings” smart contract wherein the tokens deposited can only be released once a certain preset sum is reached. “This [model] is useful when saving up for big purchases or to create accounts that will pay someone back once it hits the full value,” the Lock team said in a blog post earlier this year.
Want better data insights into Ethereum’s DeFi sector? Then you’ll definitely want to bookmark the new defimarketcap.io website in short order. Like its name suggests, the site lists all active “DeFi programmable tokens by market capitalization.”
Of course, there are plenty of notable cryptocurrency and DeFi analytics sites already active, but none of them go as deep and wide as defimarketcap.io goes in the DeFi space.
For example, the site lists data from individual token offerings powered by Set Protocol, which allows for the creation of Ethereum tokens that are underpinned by portfolios that are automatically rebalanced based on customizable parameters. To date, defimarketcap.io is the only site that goes this deep into DeFi.
If you’re big into Ethereum, then chances are you’ve already heard of the project’s premier cryptoart platforms like SuperRare and KnownOrigin. But there’s a new art platform on the scene, Async Art, and it’s worth major attention. Why?
That’s because Async Art is taking cryptoart to the next level by making it programmable. Collectors can buy “layers” of Async pieces, and trigger Ethereum-powered characteristics of these pieces to constantly keep their appearances in flux.
The project is blurring the distinctions between creators and collectors, and it’s all happening on Ethereum.
The LAO is a new decentralized venture fund that’s equal parts a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) and a Delaware-based limited liability company (LLC).
With that said, the initiative is arguably the biggest of its kind since the “The DAO,” which was infamously hacked back in 2016. Much has changed since then, and with all that progress The LAO is now like The DAO but much improved in virtually every way.
This means accredited investors in the U.S. now have a legally compliant, for-profit DAO they can participate in. And The LAO only points the way to many further like-minded projects to come.
Ethereum is a rising and flexible smart contract platform, which means it already has its early stars in dApps like Maker and Compound.
Yet these fledgling MVPs can sometimes overshadow the wide variety of excellent efforts taking place across the Ethereum ecosystem, oftentimes in much smaller projects that are sprouting up all the while.
These smaller projects may be upstarts, but many of them are certainly promising and worth deeper consideration. Some of them may become the Makers and Compounds of the future, in other words, so it’s best not to sleep on them.
William M. Peaster is a professional writer and editor who specializes in the Ethereum, Dai, and Biticoin beats in the cryptoeconomy. He's appeared in Blockonomi, Binance Academy, Bitsonline, and more. He enjoys tracking smart contracts, DAOs, dApps, and the Lightning Network. He's learning Solidity, too! Contact him on Telegram at @wmpeaster