FTX-, A16z-Backed Aptos Blockchain Is Off to a Sluggish Start

Transaction speeds and tokenomics disappoint on the first day of transactions for the ‘Solana killer’ chain run by ex-Meta employees. Can this protocol gain the trust of investors?

AccessTimeIconOct 18, 2022 at 5:01 a.m. UTC
Updated Oct 18, 2022 at 8:31 p.m. UTC
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Aptos, a new layer 1 blockchain, established by former Meta (META) employees, that promised extremely fast transaction speeds isn't living up to those brisk expectations on its first day.

On-chain data from Aptos’ block explorer shows the protocol is currently processing four transactions per second. During the development process the Aptos team said that its parallel execution engine was capable of processing 160,000 transactions per second (far above speed demon Solana’s advertised 65,000 per second).

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Also, the vast majority of these, as Crypto Twitter personality Paradigm Engineer #420 pointed out, are not actual transactions from users but rather maintenance messages from validators writing metadata to the blockchain.

“It's hard to see how users can even use Aptos right now, I personally cannot find any rpcs nor connect with any validators to send transactions,” they wrote.

The engineer also pointed out that nearly 80% of the tokens on Aptos are staked, which they said will result in them being dumped on retail users.

In a post on the Aptos Discord, the team said the TPS shown was a "function of network activity" and having announced the activation of the mainnet only a few hours ago there are no user transactions yet. Those are expected to start tomorrow.

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The race for a faster blockchain

As institutional interest in digital assets increases, there’s a hunt for infrastructure that can keep up to the demands of real-world finance applications. Right now, Ethereum in its current form can do a maximum of 15 transactions per second, and has done an average of 13 TPS during the past month. Ethereum 2.0, when complete, will have a theoretical ceiling of 100,000 TPS.

Venture capital firms have been enthusiastically looking for this nirvana, and hundreds of millions of dollars have been deployed to build out faster blockchains.

Jump Capital, as an example, has doubled down on its commitment to Solana, investing in fixing the back-end infrastructure of the once-hot protocol, which has suffered from a number of high-profile breakdowns during the last year.

Jump has also invested in Aptos, alongside FTX and a16z in Aptos’ $150 million series A round.

Trust from investors

But Ethereum, despite its sluggishness, still has the trust of investors with 58% of the total value locked in decentralized finance (DeFi) on that protocol, according to aggregator DefiLlama.

After Tron and Binance’s BNB Smart Chain, which have 10.2% and 9.9%, respectively, the rest of the total value locked (TVL) is split among protocols that have 1%-2% at most, like Solana, which has 1.72%.

Part of this long-tail distribution likely comes from the skepticism about the integrity of platforms.

As CoinDesk reported earlier, Solana has struggled with developers faking the size of the ecosystem and high-profile exploits including the hack of Mango Markets that preyed upon the immaturity of the codebase.

This won’t bode well for Aptos as Ian and Dylan Macalinao, who operated under 11 different pseudonyms while building for Solana, say they are moving on to Aptos next.

And Avraham Eisenberg, part of a group that drained $114 million from Solana-based DeFi platform Mango Markets last week before returning $67 million, recently tweeted, ominously: “So guys are there lending protocols on Aptos?”

UPDATE (Oct. 18, 2022 07:12 UTC): Adds details on amplification regarding transactions per second.

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