How Fast Can a Blockchain be? ‘Web-Speed’ says the Internet Computer

Shruti Sutwala
How Fast Can a Blockchain be? ‘Web-Speed’ says the Internet Computer
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Remember the days of slow internet connections? When you would surf a website and that “loading” bar would just go on and on. Those few seconds or minutes were so frustrating that one felt like just breaking the computer.

Thanks to 4G and now 5G, we live in a world where we expect websites and apps to load and respond to our commands in milliseconds. Even actions that need verifications like money transfers and ticket bookings happen at the speed of a click. The internet world seems almost perfect.

And then, the world said hello to the blockchain Smart Contract revolution, and suddenly the problems of large organizations with centralized control started becoming obvious. Everything from banking to social media, web services, and utility apps, all began facing transparency & trust issues. It began with Defi (Decentralized Finance), then store of values assets like Art NFTs, gaming, and now even social media apps are slowly but steadily moving towards a decentralized future.

However, most blockchain protocols face scaling issues that prevent mass adoption. A Deloitte Insights report says this on barriers to the adoption of blockchain technology:

One major reason: as a means of processing transactions, blockchain-based systems are comparatively slow. Blockchain’s sluggish transaction speed is a major concern for enterprises that depend on high-performance legacy transaction processing systems

DeFi has found a home on the Ethereum Blockchain for high-value transactions, where users don’t mind compromising speed. Other blockchains like Solana, Cardano, Avalanche, etc., are trying to solve scaling, but usually, they are at the cost of security, one of the most significant pillars of blockchain technology.

The Internet Computer is the only blockchain that can scale with security, thus solving the so-called “Blockchain Trilemma.”

For mass adoption, the consumer experience needs to be the same at scale and the same as their internet surfing experience when it comes to speed. And here is where web speed becomes an important concept.

Webspeed means giving consumers of dApps the performance they expect of apps hosted on centralized cloud (Azure, AWS, IBM, Google Cloud, etc), which is currently not the case for decentralized blockchains.

A recent study done by Coincodex compares the Top 6 Layer 1 blockchains on various parameters, speed being one of them.

To give it context, Visa does around 1,700 transactions per second (TPS) on average (based on a calculation derived from the official claim of over 150 million transactions per day). In contrast, Ethereum does 15–20 TPS, resulting in an action on the chain completed in 14 minutes. Even for Solana, while theTPS is 2000–3000 TPS, it takes 21–46 seconds for transaction finality.

Imagine if Instagram or Twitter were built on these, it would mean waiting for 14 minutes or even 30–60 seconds every time you take action like posting, commenting, or searching. This takes us back to the slow internet experience days.

The Internet Computer is the only blockchain protocol that is really fast, with a TPS of 11500 and transaction finality of 1 second.

However, web speed is a broader concept than just TPS or transaction finality, so to understand what it is, let’s look at IC Web speed from two points of view:

1. From the point of view of an app user

From the point of view of a user of a dApp, the IC is “fast” enough that app consumers would have no idea that it runs with a blockchain as the backend. It would be comparable to services running on centralized services (Azure or IBM, or AWS).

This means that while it would be extremely tricky to “build Airbnb web app on (traditional) smart contracts” because of the slow user experience, developers can create “Airbnb dApp on IC canisters”.

That is how apps like OpenChat, DSCVR, and Distrikt can provide a seamless user experience.

2. From the point of view of an app developer:

There are two relevant factors:

a. How fast can an app READ data from a backend on the IC — Apps can make query calls to canisters so that they can read data in less than a second

b. How fast can an app WRITE data to a backend on the IC — Apps can make update calls, which go through consensus. The process is currently done within 2–5 seconds and is constantly decreasing.

So if you are a firm believer in Web3 and decentralization, IC is the only blockchain today that provides Web speed and the benefits of smart contracts. Integrated with Reverse Gas Model (0 transaction cost to the user) makes user adoption very easy by removing the friction of dApp adoption (which is currently Gas Fee-based for Users).

The next revolution of Web3 will be dApps that need to deal with many files like decentralized Social Media platforms, Email services, gaming, and services like Uber and Airbnb. These cannot compromise user experience to scale up and, therefore, should be built on the Internet Computer.

It’s truly an exciting time to be in this space to see how the next revolution of dApps happens on the IC.

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  • Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original author and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Dfinity Community staff and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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