A million transactions isn't cool. You know what's cool?
One billion transactions.
It took the Hedera mainnet one year, six months, and 28 days to reach one billion transactions. Since Hedera's initial open access in September of 2019, the decentralized network’s utility has quickly grown.
For context, a billion transactions is a big deal for any public ledger. The original decentralized network, Bitcoin blockchain, is approaching 700 million transactions. Ethereum recently surpassed one billion transactions this year.
The speed at which the Hedera mainnet surpassed one billion transactions is as much a testament to the maturing decentralized space as it is to Hedera's technology and community.
How we got here
The Hedera Hashgraph journey thus far has come a long way and grown at a rapid pace. While the network has achieved major milestones, like alpha mirror nodes, deploying council member nodes, when it comes to reaching a billion transactions a few key milestones stand out.
Hashgraph public network is announced (2018)
Hedera is the only public ledger that can use hashgraph, the innovative and efficient consensus algorithm created by Hedera founder Dr. Leemon Baird. Hashgraph allows for fast, fair, and secure transactions to take place in adversarial network environments. With the efficiency of hashgraph, the Hedera network requires less electricity and cost to operate than a blockchain-based system. While hashgraph was initially deployed in private, permissioned environments in the spring of 2018 a public network was first announced.
Hedera mainnet launched and opened (2018-19)
In 2018 the Hedera mainnet first came online, with Mance and Leemon minting the total supply of 50 billion hbars. One year later, the Hedera mainnet was officially open for anyone to use. The network supported APIs to manage hbar transactions, smart contracts, and files. At open access, developers deployed over 30 applications. Using hashgraph, transactions on Hedera reach finality in two to five seconds. With the performance of hashgraph different types of applications can be created on Hedera that aren’t financially, environmentally, or technically viable on blockchain-based networks.
Messaging with Hedera Consensus Service (2020)
From 2019 to early 2020, most Hedera applications were creatively using the memo field within an hbar transfer to write small messages to the public ledger. Developers and members of the Hedera Governing Council, such as IBM, wanted a more thoughtful way to log arbitrary event data to the ledger. The outcome was the launch of the Hedera Consensus Service. A new native Hedera network service to provide tamper-proof and verifiable events.
Through 2020, Hedera Consensus Service encouraged centralized applications to decentralize some of their most critical records. Additionally, plug-ins for popular permissioned blockchain frameworks like Hyperledger Fabric were open-sourced. These plug-ins offer a way to have decentralized ordering within a controlled, permissioned environment.
Fast forward to today, and Hedera Consensus Service transactions make up the bulk of what's happening on the Hedera mainnet. Hedera Consensus Service has been 81% of the past year's transaction types, while hbar transactions make up 19%, per Dragonglass.
With a majority of Hedera transactions using hbars or the Hedera Consensus Service, the associated cost and energy consumption of a billion transactions is a fraction of what it would be on alternative networks.
Who is sending transactions?
A Hedera transaction is any Hedera API request sent by a client to a node with the expectation that it be submitted to the network for processing into consensus order and, if appropriate, subsequent application to the state. One hbar transfer, for instance, equals one transaction.
Transactions are not to be confused with operations, as commonly debated on monitoring sites like Blocktivity. At the time of this writing, Blocktivity equates a Hedera transaction with an operation, which isn't accurate. A Hedera transaction, like other blockchains, can have many operations within. As an aside, the delta between operations and transactions is likely to continue to grow with atomic swaps and token transfers using the new Hedera Token Service.
Hedera, like any decentralized public network, does not require authorized permission to send transactions. As such, unlike a traditional centralized platform, we can't be certain who is sending transactions. However, we can highlight several of the projects we know to be actively running on the Hedera mainnet:
AdsDax, one of the earliest Hedera users, is a self-serve advertising platform that uses blockchain technology to increase transparency, remove middle-men and reduce fraud in the ad industry.
The Coupon Bureau is a non-profit, industry-managed, centralized data exchange connecting all stakeholders to the new Universal Digital Coupon positive offer file.
Everyware helps your business to digitally track and monitor its assets. Saving time and money when you efficiently track and monitor.
Entrust ensures end-to-end supplier, manufacturer, and consumer security and automates record-keeping of every stage.
Hala Systems develops advanced solutions for civilian and asset protection, accountability, and the prevention of violence before, during, and after conflict.
ProvenDB uses Blockchain technology to create the world's first genuinely trustworthy database.
Safe Health Systems creates solutions that help people play a more active role in their health care via the SAFE platform.
Hedera Hashgraph engineering does conduct limited testing on the mainnet. This testing is mostly node health checks that run every 15 minutes and amount to roughly 228 transactions each hour. Overall, Hedera Hashgraph contributes a tiny percentage of the total transactions on the mainnet.
On to the next one (billion)
With over a billion transactions, Hedera has arrived. And is arguably the most trafficked mainnet, with millions of transactions occurring each and every day. As mentioned previously, this is a combination of the maturing market, Hedera's technological advancements, and the network's ability to support higher-throughput use cases. Applications, like those cited above, wouldn’t be possible from a performance, economic, or environmental perspective on most alternative decentralized networks.
As the Hedera community marches forward, will new services like the Hedera Token Service catch up with Hedera Consensus Service use? Projects like eftpos, Calaxy, DOVU, TOKO by DLA Piper, Jigstack, Power Transition, Taskbar, and INFINITE by SUKU are sure to give it a run for their ℏ.