Smart contracts are basically computer protocols set to create, verify and execute negotiated contracts in order to achieve pre-defined tasks and goals. These tasks and goals are based on the contractual rules and agreement between the parties involved in the contract. Since they are self-executing -- after the pre-defining of desired goals -- and with minimal human intervention, they achieve low costs, faster execution times, tamper-proof, minimum human error and less conflict.
For instance, in blockchain transactions, a smart contract validates the transactions against the pre-defined rules and automatically determines whether the funds in question should go through to the person being paid, whether they should revert back to the paying party.
As such, they require intense programming skills. Many crypto platforms now allow you to set up contracts at the shortest time possible, all with custom rules and conditions, without doing any intense programming.
Ethereum has the advantages of being the largest decentralized and smart contracts platform with very many use cases -- being Turing complete to mean that they can be used to run any program.
Also, it has many first-mover advantages with many developers on-board building dApps and scaling the platform. It has a huge community and the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance.
Stratis has just announced at this year's Blockchain Expo London event that they will be introducing working smart contracts written in C# language.
The company offers Blockchain-as-a-Service platform with Sidechains. The new smart contract feature will allow .NET developers to build out of the box. Professionals using Strati’s platform will be able to write, debug and test contracts in C# inside Visual Studio. This is in contrast with other competitor platforms where adoption of new development environments is a requirement.
The company also announced last year that they will also have structured smart contracts -- essentially around 10 smart contracts, off the shelf templates, that can be selected and modified for use as desired by the user.
NEO is a non-commercial blockchain based out of China and supported by the Chinese government, aimed at developing a decentralized "smart economy." It follows the principles of working with smart contracts and uses virtual machines that automatically optimizes the smart contract code before launching it, to ensure it is highly efficient. However, code reorganization requires more time to run and implement than in Ethereum. However, it has the advantage of high certainty, high concurrency, and high scalability for smart contracts based on the blockchain.
The contracts can be coded using C#, Java, or any other mainstream programming language. NEO has its own tokens NEO and GAS.
Nxt contains a number of sets of template smart contracts that can be modified by users as desired. The team believes they have templates for most business applications; be easy to code, and ensure safety in the system. However, users cannot run their own smart contracts.
To use the contracts, all a user needs to do to create a custom contract is to select the most appropriate template and adjust the parameters to customize the contracts.
Nxt was launched in 2013 to create tokens on the NXT blockchain. The open-source also allows launching of various and different DApps, such as electronic payment systems, instant messengers, and trading platforms.
Qtum allows users to create own tokens, automate supply chain management and engage in self-executing agreements in a standard environment. The company seeks to offer secure and thoroughly tested contract templates that are tailor fitted for different industries and use cases -- these include supply chain management, telecommunications, IoT, social networking and others.
Qtum uses own programming language known as Qtum Smart Contract Language (QSCL).
Waves is also developing highly-versatile Turing complete contracts although their initial iterations will have limited functionality. The company, however, wants to release smart contracts to cover the most popular use cases built into the client and deplorable by anyone regardless of the programming language knowledge and skills.
Waves contracts will include multiple controls such as multi-sig accounts and the ability to lock tokens for a certain amount of time, to prevent them from being moved.
Their contracts feature smart accounts where an account requires only signing transactions before sending them to the blockchain; and smart assets for use in specific asset cases where it is not possible to use a smart account -- in this case, scripts are attached to an asset and the scripts work as smart accounts. The smart contracts are still applicable in a variety of use cases including different security, integration, and crowdfunding cases.
Confideal aims at eliminating the existing problems in contract creation, execution, and management including time delays, risk of forgery, high costs of dispute settlements, etc. Users do not need lots of programming skills to create smart contracts. The platform serves as an impartial escrow agent for storing all terms of the deal and the money. The money is then transferred to the party as necessary when the terms of the contracts are fulfilled.
Since the rules are stored on the blockchain after the agreement, it is impossible for the parties to change them. The parties can also break or close the contract. These contracts are applicable in a variety of areas including employment contracts, international supply deals, and cryptocurrency-based escrow services for several real estate parties.
ChainLink is a decentralized oracle network that seeks to solve the connectivity issues that are associated with smart contracts. With ChainLink, the creator of the contract can connect the smart contracts with external off-line data and APIs.
Thus, it serves as a secure blockchain middleware that helps to connect smart contracts with several retail and bank payments services. For external resources, anyone with APIs, off-chain payment services or data can provide it to smart contracts in exchange of LINK tokens.
Businesses that offer services or payments options can perform cross-border operations by creating decentralized smart contracts on the network and linking the contract through the ChainLink Node Operator.
Etherparty lets you create, manage and execute smart contracts on any compatible blockchain, all without intense programming tasks. EtherParty allows for the creation of tokens, crowdfunding, and creation of other tokens such as sports betting all for free.
Users can also create peer-to-peer escrow contracts, wagering, token creation, supply chain management, real estate agreements, contractor agreements.
The smart contracts are launched using customizable templates/form completion or simple API calls. It then deploys the smart contracts on the Ethereum or Bitcoin blockchain for execution. Etherparty also allows users access to their contract library & marketplace.
Once a smart contract is sealed, the other major concern is the security, efficacy, effectiveness, and efficiency, for instance. Before deployment, these contracts are tested to discover potential loopholes which can be easily missed.
It is in beta and uses Fuel cryptocurrency or tokens and these are used to buy all services on Etherparty.
Recently, EtherParty entered into a partnership with CoinPayments to allow users to use 55 cryptocurrency varieties in purchasing Fuel tokens. That means over 760,000 merchants on CoinPayments, stretching across 182 countries worldwide can access the Etherparty services and products much more easily.
The company is also considering supporting other smart-contract enabled blockchains in their Mainnet including Qtum, Achain, and Neo are some possibilities.
BlockCAT is for creating, managing, deploying and executing smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. The company seeks to achieve fast, cost-effective and safe operations in smart contracts.
In addition to the desktop application, users can launch smart contracts using a mobile interface.
Other platforms for creating smart contracts include Tezos, Monax, Lisk, Stellar, Bitcoin, Jincor, Ubiq, Urbit.