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2 of Ethereum's top 10 smart contracts by total number of transactions belong to DEXs

This year, Ethereum’s price has dropped from a high of $1,374 per ETH to $233 — a whopping 83% loss.

One of the major targets of speculation in the Ethereum ecosystem is the potential of Ethereum’s smart contract technology. So, if you want to understand the highs and lows of ETH’s price, you need to understand which smart contracts are driving that ecosystem right now.

What are smart contracts meant to do — and are they doing it yet?

The promise of Ethereum was to create a blockchain-based platform for decentralized applications, a so-called “world computer” where anyone could deploy a snippet of code — or smart contract — to the platform and have it self-execute forever.

A smart contract is essentially a contract that can be deployed to a blockchain and is enforced by code rather than people. Just as the blockchain allows you to store, send, and receive digital assets, a smart contract allows snippets of code to transfer value to other contracts or people.

As the cryptographer Nick Szabo outlined in a 1996 paper:

The basic idea of smart contracts is that many kinds of contractual clauses (such as liens, bonding, delineation of property rights, etc.) can be embedded in the hardware and software we deal with, in such a way as to make breach of contract expensive (if desired, sometimes prohibitively so) for the breacher.

With a smart contract, you can theoretically do everything, from underwriting and enforcing a loan to creating a prediction market. The hype and meteoric rise of Ethereum are in large part due to the promise of smart contracts to create a decentralized platform for computing.

Three years after Ethereum’s launch, it’s worth looking into whether and how that promise is actually being realized. We analyzed the data behind 10 of the highest-transacting smart contracts on Ethereum’s platform to answer these exact questions.

The analysis in this article was performed using a Jupyter Notebook to query...

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