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Since the introduction of Bitcoin in 2009:

The blockchain technology has gained great popularity globally. However, blockchain as an infrastructure layer still has limitations in terms of scalability, security, and decentralization. To address these limitations, blockchain innovators are exploring new generations of blockchain networks, often referred to as ‘Layer One blockchains.’ In this blog post, I will explain what a Layer One blockchain is and how it differs from traditional blockchain networks. I will also discuss some popular Layer One projects and their key features.

What is a blockchain?

Before diving into Layer One blockchains, let’s first understand what blockchain technology is at its core. A blockchain is essentially a distributed public ledger or database that maintains an ever-growing list of records called ‘blocks.’ Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. This forms a chain where each additional block reinforces the ones that came before it.

The key aspects of blockchain technology include decentralization, immutability, and transparency. A blockchain network has no central point of control or single point of failure. It relies on a peer-to-peer network of users or ‘nodes’ running the blockchain protocol to maintain consensus and validate new transactions and blocks. Once a block of data is recorded, it cannot be changed or removed, making the records immutable. All transactions and records are visible to anyone with access to the blockchain, providing transparency.

This challenge led to the development of next-generation blockchains, often referred to as Layer One or protocol layer blockchains. Let us now explore what makes them distinct from traditional blockchain architecture.

What is a Layer One blockchain?

A Layer One or protocol layer blockchain aims to offer a more decentralized, secure and scalable foundation for building blockchain applications compared to traditional blockchain networks. Here are the key differences between a Layer One blockchain and traditional blockchain:

  • Protocol layer: A Layer One blockchain operates at a lower protocol layer compared to traditional blockchains which work at the application layer. It provides basic networking and consensus layers which advanced applications can be built on.
  • Scalability: Layer One blockchains are designed to scale massively in transaction throughput through innovative technical solutions like sharding, side-chains, state channels etc. Some projects aim for millions of transactions per second.
  • Decentralization: Decentralization is a core design principle of Layer One blockchains. They ensure the blockchain protocol and operations are controlled by no single entity through open participation and consensus algorithms.
  • Advanced features: Layer One blockchains deliver more sophisticated features and services at infrastructure level like smart contract capabilities, database storage, token creation etc. using advanced cryptography and networking.
  • Interoperability: Interoperability between various Layer One and cross-chain communication is an important focus to unlock the true potential of the decentralized web. Standards like Ethereum 2.0 make it easier for applications on different blockchains to interact.
  • Lower fees: By addressing scalability bottlenecks, Layer One chains enable handling of millions of low-value transactions with negligible fees compared to legacy systems, bringing the cost benefit to end-users and businesses.

In summary, a Layer One blockchain establishes a more decentralised, scalable and advanced foundational layer upon which various forms of decentralised applications, protocols and decentralized financial services of the future can be developed to realise the blockchain revolution in a mainstream way. Let’s now explore some of the popular Layer One blockchains.

Popular Layer One Blockchain Projects

Ethereum (ETH) 2.0

Ethereum laid the foundation for smart contract functionality and decentralized applications. However, its scalability was limited to around 20 transactions per second. Ethereum 2.0 is its next significant phase transition to a proof-of-stake consensus model with sharding to greatly improve throughput, decentralization and security. While the fees are still fairly high on Ethereum, the project, which aims for 100,000 transactions per second initially with a maximum theoretical capacity of over 1 million transactions per second. Ethereum 2024 Dencun upgrade aims to increase space and hopefully with reduced fees, improve sustainability and governance structure of ETH. Ethereum 2.0 presents a complete redesign of the Ethereum protocol layer for next-gen scalability and mass adoption of Web 3.0 decentralized applications.


Polkadot is a heterogeneous multi-chain technology that pioneered the concept of shared security between connected blockchains through a relay chain protocol. It uses a proof-of-stake consensus security model between participating blockchains termed ‘para-chains’ which can transfer messages and assets between each other. Polkadot supports parallel processing of transactions across independent blockchains in an interoperable way to scale massively. Its heterogeneous design allows parachains to choose consensus algorithms best suited for their use cases. This open blockchain ecosystem focused on interoperability is designed to bootstrap a new internet of blockchains called the Polkadot network to fuel decentralized innovations.


Solana is an open source project implementing a high-performance permission-less blockchain with a focus on decentralization, security and scalability to support the next generation of decentralized financial applications and services. It uses a novel proof-of-history consensus mechanism based on proof of stake and a combination of techniques like gossip protocols, distributed timekeeping and redundancy to achieve secure, scalable transactions supporting over 50,000 transactions per second. Solana aims to provide an Ethereum killer alternative with fast, low-cost transactions for mass adoption.


Cardano is a proof-of-stake blockchain platform often touted as the third generation cryptocurrency platform providing decentralization and security through its Ouroboros consensus protocol. It follows a ‘scientific philosophy’ and layered architecture approach through extensive peer review to deliver features in a planned, structured way using extended unspent transaction mechanism for smart contracts. Its Roadmap includes scaling solutions like Hydra, native assets and decentralized apps support. Cardano focuses on sustainability, upgradability, and governance to emerge as a trustful decentralized network for developing financial applications and services for billions of people globally in a secure, scalable manner.


Avalanche is a high-performance smart contract platform offering native support for decentralized applications, decentralization, and modular blockchains through three blockchains, namely X-Chain, P-Chain and C-Chain. It utilities a novel snowball voting mechanism for fast finality in less than a second with low latency and high throughput to power speedy, low-cost applications including payments, markets and custom blockchains. Avalanche aims to become the most programmable blockchain platform and decentralized exchange infrastructure.

Some key points

In summary, Layer One blockchains aim to overcome the scalability and decentralization challenges of previous blockchain generations through continuous innovation in consensus mechanisms, database processing, cryptography, networking techniques and cross-chain communication standards.

They provide an advanced foundation on which the next wave of decentralized apps and financial services can flourish. As the space rapidly evolves, Layer One projects are enhancing their core protocols to fulfil the promise of mass blockchain adoption through solutions including sharding, sidechains, subnetting, state channels and protocol bridges.

Interoperability standards like Ethereum 2.0 and projects like Polkadot enabling cross-chain communication will help realise the full potential of an interconnected decentralized economy in a responsible way. Meanwhile, Layer One ecosystems incubating through community participation can help shape decentralized governance of digital value and networks.

It will be fascinating to witness the breakthrough advancements that projects at this foundational layer introduce in the coming years to accelerate humanity’s transition to a new decentralized digital era. With continued growth, Layer One blockchains have the potential to fundamentally transform industries and our models of value exchange, collaboration and digital identity in trust-less ways for the betterment of all.


What applications can be built on Layer One blockchains?

Layer One blockchains provide the foundational infrastructure for a wide range of decentralized applications such as DeFi platforms, exchanges, identity systems, gaming, IoT networks, supply chain solutions, content monetization and more. Their high throughput and advanced features enable innovative apps not possible on earlier blockchain networks.

How does a Layer One blockchain differ from earlier blockchains?

Compared to blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum 1.0 that operate at the application layer, Layer One blockchains function at a lower protocol layer for greatly improved scalability, interoperability, security and decentralisation through innovations like sharding, new consensus mechanisms and cross-chain communication standards.

How do Layer One blockchains achieve massive scaling?

Projects employ innovative techniques like sharding, sidechains, state channels and new consensus algorithms to parallelize blockchain operations and reduce bottlenecks. This allows them to exponentially increase transaction throughput to levels needed for mainstream adoption, while maintaining security and decentralization.

How secure are Layer One blockchains?

Advanced cryptography, decentralized consensus involving numerous global nodes, and protocol-layer innovations help Layer One blockchains achieve greater security than earlier networks. Hackers would require controlling over 50% of the network to compromise the chain, which becomes exponentially difficult as it scales to include millions of participants.

Are Layer One blockchains fully decentralized?

Decentralization is a core design principle and decentralization increases over time as networks scale. While no project is perfectly decentralized today, Layer One chains ensure no single entity controls the protocol, incentivizes all participants equally, and allows open participation in validating transactions and upgrading the protocol through democratic consensus.

How can someone get involved with Layer One blockchains?

Individuals can engage with Layer One blockchain communities by running a node to participate in consensus, help testnet activities, build decentralized applications, stake tokens, participate in governance discussions, educate others or get employed by projects and startups in this innovative sector. Continuous participation is important for decentralized growth of these networks.


In conclusion, Layer One blockchains represent the cutting-edge of blockchain innovation as they establish a highly scalable yet decentralized foundation for the next generation of mainstream blockchain applications and services. By operating at a lower protocol layer, these projects employ novel techniques to address scalability challenges that plagued earlier blockchain networks.

As the space rapidly progresses, Layer One blockchains will continue enhancing their core protocols through community-driven research and development. Projects are collaborating more through cross-chain bridges and interoperability standards to foster win-win cooperation within the ecosystem. With refined design approaches that balance performance, decentralization and sustainability, they offer an optimize infrastructure for realizing the true potential of decentralized technologies.

Over the coming years, as these advanced networks expand their reach and real-world use cases demonstrate the transformative possibilities, adoption and trust in Layer One ecosystems is expected to surge globally. Meanwhile, partnerships with enterprises and progressive regulations can encourage more secure innovation within legal frameworks. Widespread blockchain integration has the power to revolutionize entire industries for improved collaboration in innovative as well as equitable ways.

Also See What is Layer 2 Blockchain..