Introduces and lists uses of Ethereum, including decentralized apps (dapps), infrastructure, middleware, projects, and decentralized organisations (DAOs)
Want to see live uses of Ethereum? Just download a dapp (decentralised app) browser such as Trust Wallet, Cipher or Coinbase Wallet and browse away!
Any good, service, governance or economic activity can be decentralized and tokenized with and transacted via Ethereum. The token represents the dapp (an abbreviation for decentralized app) while it uses the Ethereum blockchain, but the price of the token is different. Alternatively, a dapp may not have a token, and may thus be funded by other means (e.g. as listed here) than selling tokens via an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) or ITO (Initial Token Offering), DAICO (Decentralized Autonomous Initial Coin Offering), or iterative investment. Note that ideally, if someone is using a dapp, a user should not be able to tell that they are, i.e., a dapp should ideally not require any extra effort from a person using it, compared to a web 2.0 app (like e.g. Facebook, email web clients like Gmail and Protonmail, Twitter, etc.). Activity that has any economic or governance aspect, conceived or as of yet inconceived, can be done via Ethereum, provided that the right code is written and the necessary hardware or other required things are used (such as computers running an Ethereum node, and in some special cases, a measurement device to measure a resource flow for additional verification/auditable purposes, like a meter for electricity ⚡🔌, water 🚰 or gas 🔥; or a waste 🗑️ volume detector).
One kind of application that is particularly intriguing is decentralized autonomous organisations (DAOs); this includes entities as large as, or even larger than nation-states 🇦🇺🇺🇸🇮🇳🇬🇧🇨🇳🇧🇷🇷🇺🇯🇵, social networks, multinational public companies, etc.). Note that having complete autonomy is probably not a good idea, since code may not be able to handle new issues that arise, so human intervention should probably always be an option, but preferably in the hands of a small, non-profit entity or some decentralized solution (perhaps similar to the Aragon Network). See governance for more info. By analogy, you wouldn’t want a nuclear power plant to be completely automated with no possible means of human intervention. As a precaution, you’d want several safeguards including, for example, an off button. 😉 As explained in this Ethereum Wiki here, the first DAO, known as The DAO, resulted in many funds being stolen, and Ethereum hard forking into Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.
The following list is sourced from Coin Market Cap tokens (you can sort by market cap) and State of the Dapps, both of which lists many more, as well as elsewhere, e.g. Gitter research room chats. (Dapp Insight was added later but in addition to State of the Dapps, gives stats on live dapps.) There are 854 dapps on State of the Dapps as of Dec 1 2017; then [909 on Jan 1 2018] (https://web.archive.org/web/20180101114436/https://www.stateofthedapps.com/). 😯 You can search by tags. Other examples are also presented e.g. on day 4 of Devcon 3, as well as outlined in the Ethereum whitepaper in the introduction and applications section. Note also that while most of the dapps in the following list run on the Ethereum platform, some examples do not, and where they don’t run on Ethereum, it is generally noted as what they do run on. This is not a big deal, as any dapp could theoretically run on another blockchain, (or indirectly via inter-blockchains like Cosmos or Polkadot) provided that the host blockchain has the required features. Also note that the below list is not an endorsement, and is not exhaustive or necessarily well-maintained. At worst, it’s included because it was briefly looked into and it seemed like a good idea, while more time may have been spent doing due diligence on some ideas and can therefore have a better idea of its usefulness. Dapps that have been implemented, or are under development, or have been publicly conceptualised, includes:
- Tenzorum. “Tenzorum is the portal to use the web of the future in your devices, today. It allows you to get the full benefits of decentralization without compromising on user-experience or security.” This is really important for usability and scalability.
- Skraps, an investment platform that keeps things simple, allowing users to invest spare change from everyday transactions into cryptocurrencies. It also allows cryptocurrency investors to become portfolio managers, getting additional income when other investors look at and use their portfolio. It makes it easier for investors to diversify.
- a stable coin, e.g. Synthetix, Dai, and Tether;
- smart contracts for the legally enforceable and/or liquid transfer of assets, plus related services e.g. Mattereum and Sweetbridge, e.g. settlement, accounting, risk management, resource sharing, and Optimization & Liquid Talent. Also, asset-based lending: secure loans with holding of assets e.g cryptocurrenices (locking them up) in exchange for cash (fiat currencies), such as Sweetbridge and SALT;
- Veritaseum, which “enables software-driven P2P capital markets without brokerages, banks and traditional exchanges”.
- tokens denominated against ethical investment fund portfolios
- invoice financing with Populous
- decentralized exchanges to buy and sell cryptos and fiat, e.g. localethereum; for cryptos only there is Decentrex, Omega One and NVO, where the latter two have not been launched as of November 30.
- non-decentralized exchanges such as Coinbase (US), BTCmarkets (Australia), while more are below, or ones that only exchange cryptocurrencies like Poloniex;
- other exchanges like OmiseGo and Kyber Network. “OmiseGO is a public Ethereum-based financial technology for use in mainstream digital wallets, that enables real-time, peer-to-peer value exchange and payment services agnostically across jurisdictions and organizational silos, and across both fiat money and decentralized currencies. Designed to enable financial inclusion and disrupt existing institutions, access will be made available to everyone via the OmiseGO network and digital wallet framework.” “KyberNetwork is a new system which allows the exchange and conversion of digital assets. We provide rich payment APIs and a new contract wallet that allow anyone to seamlessly receive payments from any token. Users can also mitigate the risks of price fluctuations in the cryptocurrency world with our derivative trading.”;
- exchange platforms like Binance;
- asset exchanges like WAX.
- the Brave browser which uses the Basic Attention Token, which provides a better solution for users, publishers and advertisers;
- MaidSafe, which has another browser that actually runs on the Omni layer that runs on Bitcoin, not Ethereum. It is also claiming to be: “The World’s First Autonomous Data Network”. Currently you have to receive an invite which requires roughly an hour of interaction on their Discourse forum/site.
- ZeroNet, another decentralized internet network that runs on Bitcoin cryptography and the BitTorrent network. It on Ubuntu 17.10. You can make your own site, although you may have issues with following a tutorial. Note that this link won’t work unless you are running ZeroNet.sh) by clicking the download button on the homepage (then as detailed concisely below the button) extracting it and running (in bash)
cded to the extracted folder that ZeroNet.sh is located in.
- storage, e.g. Swarm and a distributed hypermedia protocol, IPFS website, doc;
- communication protocols, e.g. Whisper (also see here for code), which allows dapps (you don’t need to capitalize this since it is an abbreviation of decentralized applications) to communicate with each other;
- multi-chain networks/tools like Polkadot and BTCRelay
- Ethereum Name Service (names like jamesray.eth map to an address);
- mesh networking e.g. implemented here and as voted for here on Twitter (which also has other ideas posted in the comments);
- social networks e.g. Akasha (news here);
- decentralized social news network: Sapiens;
- Status: “A Mobile Ethereum OS: Browse, chat and make payments securely on the decentralized web.”;
- decentralized search engines, e.g. BitClave, Presearch Weipoint (a news post is here);
- reputation and ratings network e.g. as used by Etheal, which is described below (CTRL+F);
- identity (e.g. as provided by uPort, as well as in-blockchain proposal and Shyft);
- decentralized electricity trading and other decentralized energy economic applications, which would allow renewable energy to be more economical and accelerate the transition to a clean, renewable energy and safe climate future.
Examples of local electricity trading include (more details below):
Grid+ uses Ethereum and they have open source code. Power Ledger has closed source code and runs on the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance, rather than the public Ethereum blockchain. They had a token sale in early October. Both Power Ledger and Grid+ also detail more unique applications in their pipeline, such as renewable energy asset generation (Power Ledger) and Grid+'s in-home computer, an “intelligent agent” that pays for a customers electricity in real-time, using stable tokens, stores cryptocurrency like the hardware wallet functions of Ledger and Trezor; providing Casper proof-of-stake signing, and provide an Ethereum API for IoT (pp. 26 and 34-36, white paper). Transactive Grid uses Ethereum and it has been rolled out in Brooklyn with a microgrid, however LO3 hasn’t released any code or details for its Transactive Grid application. The others are still all under development (as of August 2017), and they have been scant on the details of how they would implement their application, at the least not releasing their code. Divvi say on its website that they will use the blockchain. Local Volts and Nexergy do not.
Continuing the list:
- electricity tokenization: e.g. SolarCoin, EnergyCoin, although both are altcoins rather than Ethereum tokens;
- governance of any organisation, e.g. Democracy.Earth; and also governance of DAOs, e.g. Aragon. There’s also Holographic consensus and a Gitter channel for governance in Eth;
- decentralized search engines like BitClave, Weipoint and Epocum;
- wallets like MyEtherWallet or hardware wallets Trezor or Ledger;
- blockchain explorers like Etherscan;
- a gateway to decentralized services such as Infura;
- visit dapps in your browser with Metamask;
- decentralized media;
- asset titles (such as land titles). Read more on that here: “Having so far built the software and tested it with a couple dozen land title registrations, Bitfury and the Georgian National Agency of Public Registry have now signed a new memorandum of understanding to expand the service to purchases and sales of land titles, registration of new land titles, demolition of property, mortgages and rentals, as well as notary services”. Nottar.io also provides notary services. A similar, more specific application is for academic certificates with Smart Diploma;
- Debit card 💳 transactions 🤝 (done on several exchanges 💱, e.g. Coinjar Swipe (but it accepts BTC only), Coinbase, while others which I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this article have plans to do this e.g. OmiseGO;
- co-ownership of real assets e.g. the Swarm Fund
- crowdsales, e.g. an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) as compared with an Intial Public Offering (IPO), or for tokens with Ethereum: an Initial Token Offering (ITO). Note that this is not so much a business model in itself, per se, rather it is more of a fundraising method (which has also led to scams, e.g. here);
- crowdfunding platforms such as Acorn Collective;
- crowd development (but not as part of the blockchain, e.g. here), e.g. for infrastructure and other public assets;
- think of public companies being remodelled into communities with tokens instead of shares, governance using a platform like Democracy.Earth (which can be tailored to have voting anywhere between one vote one person like direct democracy, or conventionally more hierarchical like a board of directors and token-holders instead of or in addition to—and probably eventually superceding—shareholders);
- dividend payouts and secure email-based transactions with Dividend. For sending ETH via email there is also You’ve Got ETH;
- prediction 🔮 🦉 markets like GNOSIS, Augur and WINGS DAO;
- Built-in price discovery and a liquidity mechanism for tokens with Bancor;
- labour/recruitment/freelance markets like Chronobank, Ethlance and Blocklancer;
- permissioned distributed ledgers like Hydrachain;
- trust-based models like the Trustlines Network
- Secure distributed computing, e.g. Golem. Ethereum needs to be faster e.g. with EWASM and parallelizability.
- accountability, e.g. for non-profits (e.g. “how do I know how badly you need a donation unless I can see your net liabilities, net assets, and balance sheet, and how you plan to use the funds?”) and aid (also see here)
- Self Learning, Autonomous, Decentralized Artificial Intelligence (this could be used for many things such as self-driving cars, robots, or anything else that is owned by a contract; bots; and art);
- decentralised financial services like WeTrust;
- futures-like dapps such as TimeBank and hodlethereum;
- sharing car refueling stations with Share&Charge;
- health, e.g. Etheal, a healthcare service comparison site with a content platform, trust and review / reputation system; an anonymous marketing platform for surveys, ads and communication research where users are paid by pharmaceutical companies; and a platform for building health apps;
- examples of contracts are here and here, e.g. voting, auctions (open or blind), safe remote purchases, micropayment channels, crowdfunding and company stock. Many more can be found on Github, which may be referenced from the whitepaper and the website of a dapp.
- insurance, e.g. Etherisc (flight delays, emergencies and crops);
- alt-etherea blockchains such as Rootstock, Expanse, Ethereum Classic and permissioned, consortium or private chains like the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance.
- Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT), e.g. Oaken Innovations (which has a ride sharing platform with WiFi sharing, electricity storage price arbitraging, micro-insurance, and collection of funds for tax to compensate reductions in tax).
- Decentralised dispute resolution and arbitral courts e.g. Sagewise, JurisProject, Confideal (which is also a platform for making deals), Kleros,
- Solidified is an audit platform; and
- platforms for ICO investment, e.g. Jury.online;
- Tron, “a blockchain-based decentralized protocol that aims to construct a worldwide free content entertainment system”
- Oraclize, a blockchain oracle service;
- curation markets, which is part of what Steemit does (which runs on the STEEM network), and which curators, social networks and wiki authors would all benefit from. More info is here;
- P2P Decentralised Autonomous Transportation Network;
- Telecommunications, e.g. OpenCT;
- Charity funding, e.g. I Gave; and
- Governance projects, e.g. Aragon Labs.
- Dapp Insight
- markets for personal data
- Radical markets ideas
- Origin Protocol: sharing economy
- Livepeer: Open Source Video Infrastructure Services
- Rocket Pool pooling for Casper PoS
- dAppBridge, an Internet data API bridge for the Ethereum network - allowing data to be pushed into the blockchain in a trusted way. Makes use of the NotaryProxy service to ensure all data can be validated, audited and traced back to source.
- CoinMirror, an investment platform, that allows users to co-invest with credible ICO investors, in order to manage risk and provide access to deals at the earliest possible stages. The smart contracts automatically mirror the actions of the syndicate lead for every backer and offers end-to-end processing (backing, buying, selling, returning profits).
- Astro Ledger, star naming and transparent grant distribution with ERC721 tokens based on a known star catalogue;
- supply chains, e.g. for sugar;
- Daolab: “A secure operating system for decentralized applications. Develop and keep track of your resources on any distributed ledger with confidence.”
Examples that have been conceptualized, but not implemented (at least as far as the creator of this wiki is aware of) include:
- reducing transaction costs for existing business models (here is a good read about that). However, to tokenize online centric business models, the network model should change from client-server to peer-to-peer, to avoid a conflict of interest. This is more difficult to achieve since a server is a piece of infrastructure, and transferring to a peer-to-peer model would cause it to be a sunk cost. Additionally, it may be difficult to build a replacement dapp for a successful website, because it is hard to get a network of engaged users to change to using something else (inertia). Centralized web apps (not just mobile apps but websites, and use the word to contrast with dapps) include:
- online marketplaces e.g. Amazon, eBay and Alibaba (decentralized alternatives include OpenBazaar for goods and bnbs; Soma for products or services, Canya for services also note this simple implementation and subreddit here, as well as more specific or niche marketplaces like Cryptokitties). For more info see here. Note that many successful mainstream apps use reputation networks, and search engines, so if you can implement just one of these (and make it usable in other dapps) then that would be really useful.
- making economically viable other business models that have seen low uptake or aren’t economically viable without blockchain tech. So-called sharing economy business models (which are more aptly called tasker or rentier capitalism models) like Airbnb, Uber, AirTasker, Fiverr, Upwork, TaskRabbit, and Menulog are particularly ripe for transformation (the term transformation is preferrable to disruption, since it should be a net positive change, while negative effects are manageable or solvable), since no trusted third party for a transaction is needed, such as banks 🏦, credit card 💳 companies or PayPal, just a smart contract; and
- mortgage brokers;
- More examples are here—scroll to the examples—they have bold headings and are about two thirds of the way down, or search for “Dank meme trading”. Note that the Basic Attention Token has already been mentioned, and the creator of this wiki is skeptical that AI will create truly beautiful art, since no AI can have any feeling. CryptoKitties is an example of meme trading and has taken up a lot of the transactions on the Ethereum network.
- Waste collection management.
- legally enforceable wills running on the blockchain, as well as being able to appoint an executor in a legally enforceable way on the blockchain.
- Other ideas include generally thinking of existing business models running on the blockchain, like real estate developers and mutual funds / investment trusts (with which blockchains could be used e.g. for crowdfunding).
More examples are e.g. here in a blog post.
Here is a list of noteworthy dapps as listed on Wikipedia, those not already mentioned above include:
- Slock.It smart locks;
- Digital tokens pegged to gold, e.g. Digix;
- Everex, a blockchain-powered financial service platform;
Here’s a challenge: keep an eye out for activity that has not been implemented on Ethereum (or could be implemented in a better way; check this article and research to check whether it’s implemented and if so, how well) and then:
- develop a dapp for the idea yourself (after learning Solidity, if you don’t already know it). Apply for grants or other funding sources; and/or
- Open-source the idea; and/or
- Or join an existing project.