How many Ethereum smart contracts are there?

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It has been a wild ride since Ethereum first launched in 2015. Since then, there was a hard fork, several major hacks, controversies, and a historic ICO boom. Due to this explosion in popularity, many people are now asking themselves how many smart contracts on Ethereum have actually deployed.

Read on, because that’s exactly what we will be covering in this article.


Deployed smart contracts on Ethereum

At the time of writing, there are over 1,000,000 smart contracts deployed on Ethereum, holding a total of over 100,000,000 ETH. Out of these contracts, over 49,000 have been verified on Etherscan. This is a 100 fold increase in the total number of Ethereum smart contracts in existence in just 2 years.


Why are there so many Ethereum smart contracts?

The barrier of entry for deploying a simple Ethereum smart contract is fairly low, hence why so many have been created. Creating a basic “Hello World” smart contract can be done with just a few lines of code, and a few dollars worth of ETH to cover the involved gas costs.

Furthermore, the ICO boom of 2017 boosted the total number of smart contracts even further by adding thousands of token sale, escrow, and token generation smart contracts to it.


Security problems and vulnerable smart contracts

Although the large number, it is concerning that the number of smart contracts vulnerable to hacks has grown exponentially as well. A recent research paper by Singaporean students shows that there are 34,000 Ethereum smart contracts that are vulnerable to attacks. This is mainly due to the extreme complexity of developing in Solidity.

Previous hacks like the DAO hack and the Parity freeze have resulted in a combined loss of over $200M, hence why smart contract security is so important for the rapidly growing Ethereum ecosystem.

That being said, improved smart contract languages for Ethereum are already being worked on. One promising example is Vyper, which albeit being slightly more limited in its feature set than Solidity, it is also significantly simpler to use and understand, which should limit the number of buggy smart contracts.


What are these smart contracts used for?

Smart contracts open the doors to countless disruptive applications. They can be used for making trustless trades between two (or more) parties, for tokenizing real-world assets, for establishing digital identities, and more.  Throughout 2017, it was largely thought that consumer-oriented “DApps” would be the killer application of Ethereum smart contracts. As the data shows, that thought may have been incorrect.

According to StateOfTheDApps, there are currently over 2,000 deployed DApps, out of which the majority is built on Ethereum. Even assuming that the average DApp is composed of 20 smart contracts, which is a very high number, that means that there are less than 40,000 DApp-related smart contracts. This is less than 4% of all Ethereum smart contracts. Furthermore, at the time of writing, the top 3 Ethereum DApps have less than 3,000 daily active users combined.

Excluding a brief explosion in popularity of blockchain collectibles game “Crypto Kitties” in late 2017, data suggests that currently, the most popular applications of Ethereum smart contracts are ERC-20 tokens contracts and decentralized exchanges.

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