NEW YORK (InsideBitcoins) — A small, alternative cryptocurrency called Burst claims to have beaten both Ethereum and Counterparty in a race toward functional smart contracts, without any pre-mine or external funding.

“Ethereum became lauded for planning to implement smart contracts,” Burst said in a release. “However, for over a year now all we (have) seen is planning and no implementation; in fact they still do not estimate release to be ready for another several months. Counterparty, on the other hand, recently announced they would be implementing Smart Contracts; their phrasing seemed to indicate they already had them working. However, it turned out it is not possible, for example, to send or receive bitcoin using their smart contracts,”

Counterparty did announce that they successfully recreated Ethereum’s project onto their platform in November, claiming to eliminate the need for a separate cryptocurrency besides bitcoin. Counterparty’s contract system is based on the most recent version of Ethereum’s “pyethereum,” and Counterparty co-founder Adam Krellenstein said it will continually be updated with Ethereum’s contract language.

Ethereum’s smart contract system has yet to launch in full, but contributors can write contracts stored in their repository. The Counterparty system is currently undergoing tests.

The tortoise and the hare

The notion of using a cryptocurrency outside of bitcoin is contrary to the goal of Counterparty’s initiative, which is working to utilize the bitcoin blockchain for its platform. Meanwhile, Ethereum says its project is about  much more than simply smart contracts – taking the first steps in creating what they call “Web 3.0.”

Along with varying visions, the technical aspects also differ. On Counterparty’s platform, the block times are ten minutes long. The length could affect how useful smart contracts are in the future; the wait times could easily be seen as a hindrance in the fast-paced world. Burst’s block times are four minutes, meaning they’re faster than bitcoin’s, but still not automatic.

Ethereum, however, is striving hard to create 12-second block times and Vitalik Buterin is quite confident that it’s possible, theorizing that five or three-second block times may be achievable.

Examples of working Burst smart contracts

Burst has five contracts that they claim are currently functional. One of those is a crowdfunding smart contract that’s based on the idea that funds are sent to one account. To draw a parallel, think of Kickstarter. In order for a project to be funded, companies on Kickstarter must reach their specified goal or the funds are never sent.

In Burst’s smart contract, users send funds to one account. If the account receives enough funds by a specified block in the contract, also seen as a time limit, the total amount is released and the project is considered funded. If the project is underfunded, the money will be sent back to the users.

There’s also a contract for auctioning off items or services where users send their bid to the contract from the start. If they’re outbid, the funds are returned and they can rebid at a higher amount.

“Smart contracts can be used in many different situations, but since this innovation is fresh, many possible uses have probably not even been thought up yet,” Burst claims.

While Burst has developed functional smart contracts for their currency, they may not have actually beaten Ethereum or Counterparty to the punch. In the end it’s not a race to be first – it’s a battle for the most efficient platform.

Editor’s note: A reference to automated transactions and atomic cross-chain transfers, made in error, has been removed.

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