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What Is Solana? The Ultimate Guide

Solana is a high-speed Layer 1 blockchain created in 2017 that aims to scale throughput beyond what is commonly achieved by popular blockchains, such as Ethereum and Bitcoin, while keeping costs low.

It boasts a unique consensus mechanism called Proof-of-History that allows Solana to process transactions almost instantly. Solana can theoretically process more than 50,000 transactions per second without scaling solutions, thanks to this lightning-fast timing mechanism, which is a proof-of-stake version.

Solana also has a vibrant ecosystem of non-fungible tokens (NFT) and was recently supported on OpenSea, the main NFT market, after Ethereum. Thanks to its fast and cheap transactions, perhaps NFT enthusiasts and creators have called Solana home for their NFT projects, so it’s no surprise that numerous decentralized applications (DApps) on this list are related to NFT.

The layer-1 chain has been a favorite of many analysts when it comes to challenging Ethereum, which pushed it to a top-10 cryptocurrency. However, Solana has also faced a number of issues and criticisms, due to the downtime suffered by the network, which is why it is facing increasing competition from other emerging L1s and Ethereum layer-2 (L2) scaling solutions such as Arbitrum and Optimism.

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How does Solana work?

Solana targets the blockchain trilemma by designing a single consensus mechanism that compromises decentralization to maximize speed.

The more transactions per second (TPS) a blockchain can support, the more scalable it is. But in decentralized blockchains, higher throughput slows down the blockchain due to small discrepancies over time. With local timestamp transactions, nodes verify timestamps to validate transactions. More nodes verifying transactions and timestamps take longer.

Solana solves this problem by having a node as a leader that sequences messages between nodes, which is chosen based on a Proof-of-Stake mechanism.

Even without a centralized and exact source of time, nodes benefit from a reduced workload, which leads to increased throughput.

By hashing the output of a transaction and using it as input to the following transaction, the network creates a chain of transactions, in other words, a transaction history, hence the name Proof-of-History.

The biggest advantage of Proof-of-History is the increased throughput, which allows Solana to process more than 50,000 transactions per second. In practice, the network was mostly running at 1,000 – 2,000 TPS, which is still considerably more than many other blockchains. However, this increase in productivity comes at a cost.

The criticisms that Solana faces

Solana faced severe criticism on two topics: high allocations to VCs and repeated interruptions.

The following video generated a lot of anger in Crypto Twitter a few months ago:

Solana has been the target of crypto-purists, who accuse him of having an excessively high allocation to venture capital funds. According to a report by Messari, Solana actually assigns almost half of its tokens to insiders, that is, “all tokens purchased by teams, companies and VCs”.

However, this is even less than other layer-ones, such as Terra and Fantom, and almost on par with a supposedly “sustainable” blockchain, such as Celo.

Not only Did Solana come under scrutiny, but also the projects built on Solana’s blockchain. ZachXBT, an account on Crypto Twitter that has repeatedly denounced dishonest practices in space, said this:

Some of Solana’s nominees have responded to the criticism. Here is Anatoly Yakovenko, co-founder of Solana, pointing out that he sees nothing wrong with this:

Raj Gokal, another co-founder of Solana, said this:

VC allocations aren’t Solana’s only problem, though. The other is the repeated interruptions that have begun to weigh heavily on the price of SOL. Solana has suffered outages not once but several times, prompting users to criticize it for being little more than a slightly decentralized database. Its last outage was the fifth of the year, and the network was idle for four and a half hours before validators restarted the mainnet. During past outages, users suffered liquidations on DeFi protocols as a result, which sparked outrage on social media.

How to buy Solana

You can buy Solana (SOL) on many different exchanges. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to buy Solana on Binance.

1. Open Binance and log in to your account.

You need an account on Binance (or any other SOL exchange offer). If you don’t have an account yet, sign up for Binance and pass KYC verification. You can choose between two options (circled in the screenshot): buy cryptocurrencies if you don’t have cryptocurrencies in your account yet, or trade to trade another cryptocurrency for SOL.

2. Select SOL from the drop-down menu.

Click on your preferred payment option (credit card in this example) and choose SOL from the drop-down menu. You will be redirected to another window where you will need to add your credit card details to process the transaction. After that, you can confirm the transaction.

3. Add a credit card and process the transaction.

To trade another cryptocurrency for SOL, go to trade and select convert from the drop-down menu. You will see the following option, where you have to choose which currency you want to exchange for SOL (in this case USDT).

Where to buy SOL

SOL is available in all major centralized exchanges such as Binance, FTX, Coinbase, Kraken, Huobi, Gemini, KuCoin, Bitfinex, and Gate.io. It is also available on decentralized exchanges on Solana, such as Raydium, Serum, and others.

Solana Wallets

Phantom

Phantom is a simple and intuitive Solana wallet that has become the most popular wallet on the market. It works as a browser extension or on iOS and Android. Phantom is non-custodial and supports hardware wallets as the Ledger Phantom also offers biometric authentication for added security.

Sulflare

Solflare is another unattended wallet that supports token exchanges, staking, and token sending based on SOL and Solana. It is available on desktop, mobile devices, or as a browser extension. Solflare is very popular and represents over $7 billion staked through its portfolios.

Solong

Solong is another browser-based Solana wallet. It is a lightweight wallet with a simple interface and only available on Chrome.

Solana Ecosystem

Despite its problems, Solana’s flawless technology has seen its TVL increase significantly in 2021. Unlike other blockchains, Solana boasts various niches and use cases, from DeFi on GameFi to a significant NFT industry.

The best DeFi projects on Solana

  1. Serum – the main decentralized exchange of the ecosystem.

  2. Raydium: The largest automated market maker on Solana.

  3. Tulip Protocol: one of the main ecosystem yield aggregators

  4. Jupiter: Solana’s main liquidity aggregator.

  5. Soldex: an ambitious high-speed DEX.

Serum

FTX, formerly known as Blockfolio, is a popular centralized exchange for derivatives trading. It was launched by a team of traders, led by Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), one of the most well-known figures in the cryptocurrency space. FTX is backed by Alameda Research, also founded by SBF, a crypto trading hedge fund and market maker in the cryptocurrency space.

FTX stands out for its impeccable performance, resulting in fast transaction execution and near-zero downtime even in times of increased market volatility. This led to a massive increase in the volume of trading on the stock exchange. It also bought the naming rights to the Miami Heat arena and began building an NFT marketplace, based on Solana, on its platform. In addition, the exchange has become (in)famous for being very quick to list new tokens and introduce innovative new products, such as leverage tokens that allow investors to speculate on assets with higher risk exposure and no liquidation risk.

Launched by FTX and Alameda’s Serum Foundation, Serum is the ecosystem’s leading DEX, boasting a central on-chain order book and matching engine, thanks to Solana’s performance. This allows users to choose the price, size and direction of their operations and other projects to benefit from its architecture, initiated liquidity and correspondence service.

Its main product is the asset-independent order book to match any Solana-based trading product. This essentially allows Serum to have the performance of a centralized exchange and allows for a greater source of aggregate liquidity. Its wormhole token bridge connects Solana to other blockchains, but it was recently the victim of a huge $320 million exploit.

Raydium

Raydium is a DEX running on an automated market maker (AMM) model built on Solana. which leverages Serum’s central order book to provide fast trading and shared liquidity.
Raydium offers the standard features of money market protocols such as decentralized exchange, liquidity agriculture, and staking.
As with any protocol on Solana, Raydium mainly benefits from the high transaction speed and near-zero gas tariffs. In addition, it has access to the order flow and liquidity of the Serum ecosystem, reducing slippage and liquidity shortages.

Tulip Protocol

Tulip Protocol, formerly known as Solfarm, is a decentralized return aggregator on Solana. It offers auto-compounding return strategies, which means users can engage in more passive investment strategies and cultivate the protocol’s native TULIP token.

Thanks to its leveraged yield farming, investors can increase their annualized return and take riskier positions. Unlike other AMM protocols, the Tulip protocol offers a rather high loan-to-value ratio of 85%. It is one of the few yield cultivation protocols on Solana to date.

Jupiter

Jupiter is a liquidity aggregator that seeks the best prices throughout the Solana ecosystem. It combines more than a dozen different sources of liquidity, both automated market makers and order books.

In total, over 860 tokens can be traded on Jupiter and make up 2% of non-voting transactions on Solana per day.

The Jupiter algorithm supports multi-hop swap routing and trade splitting.

A multi-hop route allows token exchanges in a single transaction even if these tokens cannot be exchanged directly with each other. It also facilitates better price discovery since it improves the efficiency of the market between different tokens.

Division swaps send trades to different trades to reduce slippage and improve the price at which a trade is matched.

Soldex

Soldex is a permissionless, non-custodial decentralized exchange that allows perpetual trading of any listed trading pair. It boasts efficiently incentivized liquidity pools and a smooth trading experience with real-time settlement and ultra-fast swaps. In the future, Soldex strives to become Solana’s main DEX.

Alfprotocol

Alfprotocol is a liquidity protocol for leveraged and unleveraged agriculture. Implement a tailor-made version of an automated market maker based on invariants. Alfprotocol contributes to Solana by enabling leveraged liquidity provider positions in AMM pools and yield farming protocols.

By improving capital efficiency, Alf facilitates the creation of liquid markets and connects risk-averse investors with lending protocols that host risk-averse liquidity providers.

Solanius

Solanium is a decentralized all-in-one lending solution for Solana. It offers an integrated wallet, a DEX, transaction management and a decentralized launchpad. Solanium focuses on improving the user experience compared to comparable projects and prioritizes decentralization.

LP Finance

LP Finance is an interest-free loan protocol on Solana. Users can collateralize more than 20 different tokens to borrow a synthetic stablecoin minted by the protocol. Other services include short selling of cryptocurrencies such as BTC, ETH and SOL with leverage of up to 20x.

LP Finance also offers a Liquidity Pool 2.0 service that pairs the synthetically minted stablecoin with other assets and pays liquidating premiums to lp providers for liquidated positions. Finally, it can also be used as a mobile payment app.

Trush

Trush is a next-generation DeFi banking protocol that offers lending and lending services, as well as stake and peer-to-peer payments.

It aims to provide a user-friendly and globally available lending platform that connects lenders with borrowers looking to generate revenue, while maintaining a revolving loan. The Trush Payments subsection of the protocol should bring banking activity to non-banks by issuing custom Trush cards for payments.

Enrex

Enrex is a DeFi gateway to carbon allowances and renewable energy certificate markets. Users can exchange energy certificates and carbon allowances through the ENRX token and help save the environment by offsetting their carbon emissions.

Enrex aims to launch only sustainable, zero-emission IDOs and IEOs and tracks cryptocurrencies for their sustainability.

Magic Eden

Magic Eden is probably the best NFT market on Solana due to its selection of high quality NFT collections. It accounts for more than 90% of secondary market trading on Solana. Magic Eden owes some of its popularity to its free listing service, though there’s a two-percent transaction fee.

Magic Eden does not stop at being an NFT marketplace but is also a DAO and a springboard for other projects. In addition, it provides a dedicated section for games and API services to other platforms.

The platform shines with its intricate statistics of auctions and collections that allow you to filter by different traits and prices. This is reminiscent of OpenSea, the market-leading NFT market on Ethereum.

Magic Eden also enjoys the backing of venture capital funds such as Sequoia, Coinbase Ventures and Alameda Research.

Solsea

Solsea.io is another popular Solana NFT marketplace that shines by offering different minting tools such as a rarity calculator, collection rankings, and a verification service for popular collections. These collections are verified by the Solsea team and receive a blue check mark next to their name.

Solsea also offers a licensing service for collections. Sellers can specify how buyers can use their work and can define commercial or private licenses. It also provides a timetable for upcoming NFT ticks and has launched the First 100 Virtual NFT Art Fair which aims to feature pioneers and early adopters. Solsea charges transaction fees of three percent.

Solanart

Solanart is an important Solana NFT marketplace that lists many Popular Solana NFT collections such as Degenerate Ape Academy, Aurory, Abstractica, SolPunks and others. It is a curated market, which means that the collections must pass an application process from the platform so as not to dilute the quality of the collections.

Collectors can search for various NPTs according to their characteristics and buy and sell NFT Solana according to their needs. Solanart charges a 3% transaction fee. In addition, the creator of NFT can choose what kind of royalties they want to receive, which are not included in the platform’s fees.

Metaplex

Metaplex is an unusual NFT marketplace because it works as your showcase for NFT collections. NFT projects are listed in accordance with market guidelines and standards, which can be an advantage for some collections but a disadvantage for others. Essentially, Metaplex works like the Shopify equivalent of NFT marketplaces.

It also lists popular collections such as Solana Monkey Business, Degen Ape Academy, Genopets, Nyan Heroes, and others, and offers social integrations and development tools.

For more advanced NFT collectors and creators, Metaplex is definitely worth looking into.

Alpha

Alpha is a Solana NFT marketplace that is very similar to OpenSea and offers many of the same options such as property filters, authoring tools, and common list options. It also has a bespoke NFT collection called “Piggy Sol Gang” which can be bet on its website. Alpha charges a 2% fee on the platform.

Digital Eyes

Digital Eyes claims to be the first “open” Solana NFT marketplace that is still in its alpha stage and lists only verified collections. It has a limited search function but lists some popular collections such as Solana Monkey Business, Thug Birdz, Solarians, and Degenerate Ape Academy. With the mint calendar, NFT collectors can plan the next ticks.

Digital Eyes only charges a 2.5% transaction fee.

Exchange

Exchange is a Solana NFT marketplace focused on unique art curated by independent creators. Compared to other NFT markets, it has a high percentage of art collections, illustrations, photographs and other hand-selected works of art.

In addition, Exchange boasts a Creators Portal with a built-in dashboard for artists and creators to manage their collections.

The platform fee on Exchange is 2.5% standard and offers minting tools such as a rarity calculator and search filters.

Artz •

Artz is the self-proclaimed first truly decentralized NFT marketplace on Solana. In this way, the platform tries to stand out from some of the other markets that may be more centralized.

Artz offers various listing options and minting tools and promises to publish a mobile app for its market. In addition, it has a user verification feature to improve the security of the platform. The platform also stands out for its transaction fee of only two percent.

Solport

Solport is a Solana NFT marketplace with standard tools such as rarity filters, user auctions, and notifications of market activity via Discord and Telegram. Prominent collections include Solana Monkey Business and Realm Kings Mutant. Solport’s redemption feature is the transaction fee two percent lower than usual.

Supadrop

SupaDrop is a niche NFT marketplace that focuses on independent creators with authentic digital art. Artists can publish works that have been created in various ways, such as paintings, 3D art, or videos. It sponsors Artist Drop Part Sessions every week for artists to promote their work on Supadrop.

The platform charges a transaction fee of 2.5%.

Best Web3 Apps on Solana

  1. Star Atlas: A successful MMORPG.
  2. Aurory: an NFT fantasy game.
  3. Stepn: a web fitness app3.
  4. Audius: a decentralized music streaming platform.
  5. Samoyedcoin: Solana’s native meme coin.

Star Atlas

Star Atlas is a next-generation blockchain mass multiplayer online game. Set in a futuristic space environment, the game revolves around three factions and their battle for resources and political influence. Based on Unreal Engine 5, Star Atlas will feature photorealistic graphics and real-time environments.

The game combines different genres such as combat, space exploration, flight simulation and strategy. As with other blockchain games, the assets acquired in the game are all NFT and can be exchanged for other cryptocurrencies.

The game has a two-token economy model consisting of ATLAS and POLIS. ATLAS is the in-game currency that players will acquire by playing and trading with other players. POLIS is the game governance token that will serve for in-game governance, as well as influencing decisions regarding the development of Star Atlas.

Aurory

Aurory is a role-playing game set in a retro-futuristic universe that revolves around a series of NFTs called Aurorians. Players can engage in a solo player mode, in which they follow the quest for Helios, a retro-futuristic cat who accomplishes missions and fights opponents that can be earned as NFT. These can be exchanged or used later in the game’s multiplayer mode.
Aurory replicates the success of Axie Infinity (AXS) and its IDO was the biggest IDO on Solana. The game will also offer ownership of the land in its metaverse and an annual Aurory Championship Tour, where players will be able to win rare items and significant cash prizes.

Stepn

STEPN (GMT) is a web3 lifestyle app that pioneered the move-to-earn movement. Essentially, STEPN is a fitness app that combines exercise with the ability to earn its GMT token by purchasing custom NFT sneakers that you wear while exercising. This has made STEPN one of the fastest growing applications in 2022.

STEPN offers different modes such as a solo mode, a marathon mode and other multiplayer modes in the future. Users buy NFT sneakers with SOL and let the app follow their movements as they walk or exercise. The more the user moves, the more GMT can earn and level up his NFT sneakers, buy more powerful ones or cash out his tokens.

By combining an existing concept (fitness applications) with monetization through encryption, STEPN has unlocked a whole new field of interesting applications and will likely remain relevant for the foreseeable future.

Audius •

Audius is a decentralized music streaming platform that aims to remove inefficiencies in the music industry, such as non-transparent rights, ownership, and the excessive presence of intermediaries.

Audius does this by aligning the interests of the various stakeholders in the sector: artists, fans and node operators.

Artists can post content to the platform’s content registry, with streaming music with quality comparable to Spotify and Google Play Music.
Fans can listen to music for free and will be able to support their favorite artists by pointing AUDIO to the platform.
In addition, nodes can help maintain the availability of content on the protocol or improve user queries through metadata indexing. Both things happen through staking.

Samoyedcoin

Samoyedcoin is Solana’s native meme coin which is an excavation at Dogecoin. It revolves around Samoyed, a breed of dogs from Eastern Europe and the same breed that owns Anatoly Yakovenko, founder of Solana.

The coin was brought to life in April 2021 and has since become the “mascot and ambassador” of the blockchain. Now there are NFT SAMO and a SAMO Swag store with dog-themed merchandise. Unlike other dog coins, Samoyedcoin is not fully owned by the community, with the core team reserving an allocation of 3.9%.

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