Despite being less than two decades old, the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry has been one of the most active and interesting niches.
If you’ve been curious about Web3 and gone down the rabbit hole, it’s likely you have seen a lot of industry terms such as “EVM-compatibility” used a lot. In this article, we’ll discuss what EVM-compatibility is, and why it’s so important to the Web3 industry.
What does EVM-compatibility mean?
EVM-compatibility is used to describe a blockchain network that works with the Ethereum blockchain. Simply put, it describes the level of interoperability between the Ethereum blockchain and other blockchain networks.
For you to understand what EVM-compatibility is, you need to have a full understanding of what an EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) is.
But, what’s an EVM?
An EVM is a computational engine that interprets and implements smart contract protocols and requests. It’s a software environment built on the node infrastructure of the Ethereum network to run and maintain Ethereum’s smart contract protocols. The EVM is a virtual platform that offers developers the right environment for creating DApps and running smart contract protocols.
Unlike the Bitcoin blockchain, which is only a distributed ledger that facilitates transactions and maintains the decentralised transactional database, the Ethereum blockchain is Turing-complete. It is a blockchain that can understand and implement any instruction given to it.
Why is EVM-compatibility important?
Why does a blockchain network need to be EVM-compatible? Here are some reasons.
#1 EVM-compatibility let developers port Ethereum DApps and Smart contracts protocols to other Blockchain with ease
Being the first blockchain that allows DApps and smart contract implementation, Ethereum has become a perfect ecosystem for many smart contract protocols and DApps. However, as Ethereum expands and grows, it becomes congested and less scalable because of its architecture.
As a result, developers find it extremely difficult to build and maintain DApps and smart contracts protocols.
With the help of EVM-compatible blockchains, developers can easily port their DApps to another chain with little or no modification to the smart contract protocols. Therefore, in the case of a malfunction on a blockchain, developers can easily move their project to other EVM-compatible blockchains instantaneously with zero cost and less stress.
#2 Some wallets (e.g. Metamask) only support EVM chains
For blockchain users, an EVM-compatible blockchain reduces the stress involved in using blockchain technology by increasing user experience and reducing ambiguity.
Instead of needing to create a separate wallet and keeping multiple private keys for each cryptocurrency token, you only need to create a single wallet for your EVM-compatible blockchains and manage the tokens with a single public key.
Metamask, for example, is an EVM-compatible decentralised wallet, so it can work with all EVM-compatible blockchains out there. Instead of having to create multiple wallet addresses, you only need to create a single wallet and you’d be able to manage several EVM-compatible networks.
At Krystal, we support both EVM-compatible networks and Solana, which is not an EVM-compatible network.
If you would like to improve your multi-chain experience, download our app on either iOS or Android!
One of the problems of blockchain technology is that it operates in silos, i.e., blockchains are independent of one another. They are not interoperable and so they don’t communicate with each other.
However, for blockchain to achieve its utmost goal (creating a decentralised peer-to-peer network that’s free of any centralised control), they need to communicate.
By introducing EVM-compatibility, blockchains can now communicate with one another. This means that token contracts can be the same, assets can be easily transferred across chains, and DApps and smart contract protocols can communicate and interact.
Moreover, this makes it easier to bridge one chain to the other.
#4 Low barrier to entry for developers
For a new blockchain project to be successful, it needs to attract users and investors who are willing to lock their funds in the blockchain. One way to attract investors and users is by increasing the number of projects being developed on the blockchain, which means developers should be interested in building on the chain.
With an EVM-compatible blockchain, developers don’t need to worry about learning a new programming language. They also don’t need funds and much tweaking to move their DApps and smart contract protocols to your compatible blockchain. And with this, you increase your blockchain success rate and lower the barriers for developers.
How do I know if a blockchain network is EVM-compatible?
Let’s check out the two major ways to verify if a blockchain is EVM-compatible or not.
#1 EVM-compatible blockchain addresses start with “0X”
Since most EVM-compatible blockchains are forks of Ethereum, they’re usually based on Ethereum designs and share some key fundamentals like the address format and so on. Although some are designed separately and only worked on for compatibility, they still share the same addressing format.
Most EVM-compatible blockchains share the same wallet address format. The addresses are usually 42 alphanumeric characters, which usually begin with ‘0x’ and are followed by 40 numbers and letters.
So when you see a blockchain with the same format as Ethereum, you should know that it is EVM-compatible. While most EVM-compatible blockchains have the same format as Ethereum, some of them usually have unique addresses but share the same functionality.
#2 Use defillama or chain list to verify EVM compatibility of blockchain
Another way to check if a blockchain is EVM-compatible is by using DefiLlama and Chainlist. These websites are web3 aggregating sites that analyse and show different blockchain networks available with their unique attribute.
Here are the steps to go about the process.
Checking EVM-compatibility using DefiLlama
DefiLlama is a DeFi aggregator and analytic dashboard that provides information about different DeFi platforms and chains. It keeps track of all activities happening in the web3 ecosystem. To verify the EVM-compatibility of a blockchain:
- Visit DefiLlama.com and select DeFi at the left side of the page
- From the drop-down menu, select Chain
- Select the EVM tab on the chain page to check the list of EVM-compatible blockchains available.
- Verify EVM compatibility using Chainlist
Chainlist is also a Web3 aggregating site that automatically connects EVM-compatible chains to decentralised wallets and web3 middleware. It supports over 200 different EVM-compatible chains, including testnets. To check if a chain is EVM-compatible:
- Visit Chainlist.org
- Search for the chain in the network search bar (if the network is EVM-compatible, it’ll be available on the search result page).
Top EVM chains
Here are the top five EVM-compatible blockchains by Total Value Locked (TVL).
Launched in 2015 by Vitalik Buterin, Joseph Lubin, and several other developers, Ethereum is the pioneer of the smart contract blockchain and it’s the second largest blockchain behind Bitcoin blockchain. It is usually referred to as the “World Computer” because of its ability to execute and run Dapps and smart contract protocols. Ethereum is a layer1 blockchain that runs a fully decentralised network of nodes. It’s a decentralised peer-to-peer (P2P) blockchain with smart contract functionalities.
Ethereum’s native currency is Ether (ETH) which supports the blockchain by incentivising transaction verifiers.
BNB Chain, formerly referred to as Binance Chain, is also a layer1 decentralised EVM-compatible blockchain launched in 2017 by Binance exchange. This project serves as an alternative decentralised smart contract ecosystem to Ethereum’s blockchain.
Unlike the Ethereum chain, the BNB chain has a dual architecture, i.e., it comprises two chains (the BNB smart chain and the BNB beacon chain) running concurrently with each other. The BNB Smart Chain facilitates and supports the smart contract and Dapps implementation, while the BNB Beacon Chain controls the governance and decision-making of the blockchain.
Since the BNB chain is a dual-architecture blockchain, it also has two native currencies (the BEP20 and BEP2 tokens), which are native to each sub-chain. The BEP20 tokens are EVM-compatible tokens native to the BNB Smart Chain, the smart contract platform. They are interoperable with the Ethereum network and are used for transactions on the BNB smart contract. While the BEP2 tokens are used for governance and voting on the BNB Beacon Chain.
They serve as the native governance token for the BNB chain.
You can find out more about the differences between the BNB Smart Chain and Beacon Chain here.
Arbitrum is also a layer2 scaling solution that aims to solve Ethereum’s scalability and congestion problem by offloading computational work and data storage for Ethereum’s ecosystem. Developed by Offchain labs, a New York-based web3 startup, Arbitrum was launched in May 2021.
Like other layer2 scaling solutions, it leverages the security of Ethereum and allows smart contracts and Dapps to run on another layer to reduce congestion in Ethereum’s network. Currently, Arbitrum doesn’t have a native token, but there are speculations it will soon have one.
Unlike the previously discussed blockchains, Polygon is a layer2 blockchain that aims to help Ethereum’s blockchain scale. Launched in 2017 under the name Matic, it later rebranded to Polygon in 2021. Since it’s a side-chain, it uses the security of the Ethereum blockchain and operates using the Ethereum blockchain.
MATIC is the native currency of Polygon. It is an ERC20 token that’s compatible with all Ethereum-based digital currencies. MATIC is used for governance and Polygon’s decision-making. It’s also used as a transaction fee.
Launched by AVAX lab in 2020, Avalanche is a layer1 cryptocurrency and smart contract platform like Ethereum and Binance. It supports a variety of blockchain projects. It’s nicknamed “the Ethereum killer” because it offers different high-end functionalities that make it a better alternative to Ethereum.
For example, Avalanche provides a near-instant transaction finality. It can also process about 4500 transactions per second (tps) compared to Ethereum 10 to 14 tps.
AVAX is the native currency of the Avalanche ecosystem. It is used as the basic unit of account among the blockchain in the Avax network and used as the transaction processing fee. It is also used for securing the avalanche ecosystem.
An EVM is a virtual machine that provides blockchain DApp developers with the runtime to run DApps and process smart contract instructions written in Solidity, Ethereum’s programming language. Apart from just being an environment, an EVM is an integral part of Ethereum’s ecosystem, which serves as a state machine that determines the state of the blockchain.
So, when a blockchain is said to be EVM-compatible, it means:
- The blockchain implements and processes DApps and smart contract protocols written in solidity.
- The EVM-compatible blockchain can write and run smart contract codes that Ethereum nodes can interpret.
- There are some levels of interoperability between Ethereum and the blockchain. For example, the blockchain can share the same decentralised wallet.
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