The Different Types of Smart Contracts and Real-World Applications

The Different Types of Smart Contracts and Real-World Applications

9 min read

Imagine you’re at a vending machine. You insert a coin, make a selection, and voila! Your snack drops down for you to enjoy. What if we could apply this simple, straightforward transaction model to more complex aspects of our lives? That’s where smart contracts come into play.

Smart contracts are like those vending machines, but for transactions that are way more complicated. They’re self-executing digital codes that handle transactions between two parties without needing a middleman. Whether it’s buying a house, setting up a supply chain, or even voting in an election, smart contracts are revolutionizing how we think about contracts and transactions.

So why should you care? Well, all types of smart contracts eliminate the need for trust and reduce paperwork, making processes more efficient. They’re not just a trend; they’re quickly becoming a staple in various blockchain technology platforms.

In this article, we’ll explore the history of smart contracts, delve into the different types, and look at some real-world applications that are changing the game. So, stick around; you won’t want to miss this!


History of Smart Contracts

You might think smart contracts are a brand-new invention, but you’d be surprised to learn that the concept has existed for a while. The term “smart contract” was coined by Nick Szabo, a computer scientist in the ’90s. Nick Szabo compared their operation to that of vending machines, as we mentioned in the earlier section.

Fast forward to today, and these nifty pieces of software code are making blockchain platforms more robust and versatile.

Why all the buzz? Valuates Reports, a reputable market research firm, predicts that the global smart contracts market value will nearly quintuple (five times) over the next six years. We’re talking about a jump from $315.1 million in 2021 to an astounding $1.46 billion by 2028. With a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 24.2% from 2022-2028, it’s evident that smart contracts aren’t just a fleeting trend; they’re scaling up and becoming a cornerstone in modern transactions.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. While smart contracts are still in their early stages, they’re already shaking things up, especially in the realm of traditional financial services. From making transactions more secure to streamlining business processes, smart contracts are becoming integral to handling transactions and contractual obligations.


How Do Smart Contracts Work?

Remember our vending machine analogy? Smart contracts work similarly to that, but they’re way more versatile. Think of them as computer programs running on a blockchain network. These programs have specific rules and conditions, often following an “if-then” logic. For instance, sending 1 Bitcoin to a smart contract might receive 16 ETH in return. Or, if you send a certain token, you might gain access to a specific application.

Developers can create these smart contracts on various blockchain platforms like Ethereum, Cardano, and Hyperledger Fabric. Each platform offers its own set of features and advantages for smart contract development. A smart contract consists of two main components: the code, which handles the functions, and the data, which sets the conditions. These components reside at a specific address within the blockchain.

Smart contracts are like specialized accounts on the blockchain. Unlike regular user accounts, which you control, smart contracts are managed by their own code. This means you can interact with them just like you would with another user. You can send tokens to a smart contract, and it will execute specific functions or transactions based on its programming.

So, smart contracts are perfect whether you’re looking to swap tokens, gain access to applications, or initiate specific functions. They’re the future of automated execution and are making waves in how we think about contracts and transactions.


The Three Types of Smart Contracts


Let’s dive into the meat of the matter – the different types of smart contracts. Think of smart contracts as pieces of code that live on a blockchain. They spring into action when certain conditions are met. And because they’re on a blockchain, they’re transparent and can’t be tampered with. Now, there are mainly three types of smart contracts you should know about:

  • Smart legal contracts
  • Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)
  • Application logic contracts


Smart Legal Contracts

These are your traditional legal contracts but with a digital twist. They’re legally enforceable and operate on an “if-then” logic. These Smart Legal Contracts are the cornerstone of many blockchain activities. They’re crucial in everything from swapping cryptocurrencies and powering decentralized finance (DeFi) to enabling Game-Fi ecosystems. Beyond that, they’re the engine behind NFT platforms, metaverses, asset tokenization, and even blockchain-based real estate transactions.

Imagine a ‘digital will’ that automatically distributes assets to your loved ones upon verification of your passing. No need for a lengthy legal process; the smart contract takes care of it.


Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)

DAOs are like companies run by smart contracts. There’s no CEO or board of directors; instead, decisions are made collectively by community members. Votes are cast through smart contracts, and the outcome is transparent and immutable.

Take MakerDAO, for instance. It’s a DAO that lets its token holders decide the rules of the game. Want to change the interest rate on a crypto loan? Put it to a vote. The smart contract will count the votes and implement the decision, all without human intervention.


Application Logic Contracts

These are the smart contracts that make our devices smarter. Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), devices can communicate with each other through these contracts. These smart contracts are the brains behind the seamless interaction between programs and the blockchain.

They’re the reason you can use NFT tokens in video games or link blockchain data to external Oracle programs. Essentially, Application Logic Contracts act as the bridge between the blockchain and other software or hardware systems. They’re the reason why decentralized ride-sharing or smart homes are not just concepts but realities.

Consider a smart fridge that can order groceries for you. When it senses you’re low on milk, it could automatically place an order through a smart contract, ensuring you never run out.

So, there’s a smart contract for whether you’re looking to formalize a legal agreement, participate in a decentralized organization, or make your devices smarter. And the best part? They’re all built on blockchain platforms like Ethereum or Cardano, making them secure and transparent.


Smart Contracts in Action: Real-World Applications

smart contracts use case

Source: Capital

Smart contracts are no longer just a concept but actively reshaping various industries. Legal frameworks around smart contracts are also evolving. Believe it or not, in some places like California, you can even tie the knot using a smart contract marriage license!


Streamlining Supply Chain

Home Depot integrated smart legal contracts into their vendor relationships, allowing for real-time tracking of shipments and payments. Brian Quartel, their Director of Financial Operations, likens it to “instant settlements” for each transaction rather than waiting for months to reconcile accounts.


Health and Research

In the healthcare sector, a unique partnership has emerged between Molecule, a decentralized tech firm, Apollo Health Ventures, a VC fund, and VitaDAO, a DAO focused on longevity research.

VitaDAO streamlines the funding process for biotech scientists, bypassing traditional grant applications. They even issue IP-NFTs for each project, allowing DAO members to manage research proposals, allocate funds, and even find patients for studies.


Everyday Life

Beam Technologies, an Ohio-based startup, has introduced a smart toothbrush that syncs with their dental insurance plans. The more you brush, the lower your premiums – talk about an incentive for good dental hygiene!


Data Marketplaces

Platforms like Datapace and Ocean Protocol are pioneering data marketplaces where smart contracts automate the buying and selling of data streams.


Medical Research

Encrypgen is another game-changer, using smart contracts to securely transfer DNA data to researchers. This speeds up clinical trials and ensures that sensitive information is handled responsibly.

So, as you can see, smart contracts are not just a buzzword; they’re a transformative technology with real-world applications that are as diverse as they are impactful.


Wrapping Up: The Expanding Universe of Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are no longer just a buzzword; they’re becoming integral to our daily lives. Whether it’s improving your dental health, revolutionizing global trade, or even tying the knot digitally, smart contracts are diversifying their applications at an impressive rate.

As blockchain technology continues to gain traction, the possibilities for smart contracts seem boundless, signaling a bright future for their market value. So, the next time you brush your teeth or make a business deal, remember – smart contracts might just be involved.


Frequently Asked Questions on Smart Contracts

What are the Most Used Types of Smart Contracts?

Smart legal contracts are among the most commonly used types of smart contracts. They offer a blend of traditional legal agreements with the automation and transparency of blockchain technology. The Ethereum blockchain, in particular, is a hotbed for these kinds of smart contracts, making it the most popular platform for deploying them.


Which Financial Institutions Are Leveraging Smart Contracts?

Several major banks, including Bank of America, Barclays Corporate Bank, Standard Chartered, and the Development Bank of Singapore, are exploring the benefits of smart contracts. These institutions primarily use smart contracts to streamline ownership changes and automate payment processes, enhancing efficiency and reducing manual errors.


What is the Role of Decentralization in Smart Contracts?

Decentralization enhances the security and transparency of smart contracts by distributing data across multiple nodes. This eliminates a single point of failure and ensures trustless transactions.


What Are the Legal Implications of Smart Contracts?

In some jurisdictions, smart contracts are legally binding. However, the legal landscape is still evolving, and it’s crucial to consult legal experts when dealing with smart contracts.


How Do Oracles Interact with Smart Contracts?

Oracles feed real-world data into smart contracts, enabling them to execute based on external events like stock prices or weather conditions. They act as a bridge between blockchains and the external world.


Can Smart Contracts Be Hacked?

While blockchain technology is secure, smart contracts can still be vulnerable if poorly coded. Various security protocols and audits are in place to minimize this risk.


What is Gas Fee in the Context of Smart Contracts?

Gas fees are transaction costs required to execute smart contracts on networks like Ethereum. They compensate miners for validating transactions and are essential for network maintenance.


How Do Smart Contracts Work with NFTs?

Smart contracts govern the creation, ownership, and transfer of NFTs. They ensure each NFT is unique and securely tied to its owner.


How Are Smart Contracts Audited?

Smart contracts undergo rigorous audits to check for vulnerabilities and ensure they function as intended. Specialized firms or community experts usually perform these audits.


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