In a year where expectations are riding pretty hard, the Solana blockchain has had mixed performances.
Awareness of the blockchain continues to grow, and its ecosystem is expanding. But frequent network outages and security issues have threatened growth and given developers cause for concern.
Down, But Not Out
In the final week of January, the Solana blockchain suffered yet another outage. According to reports, the outage left the network off balance and almost inaccessible for up to eight hours.
A notice on the Solana website claimed the outage was caused by numerous duplicate transactions that congested the network and left developers out in the cold.
Anatoly Yakovenko, the Solana Labs co-founder, tried to calm traders and developers on Twitter. He said the downtime was a result of market volatility. Bots were deployed to earn bounties on leveraged positions, and their activity eventually congested the Solana network.
During periods of Solana network instability, transactions ultimately come to a standstill. Traders can't sell off their positions. Transactions won't go through, and trading balances are put at risk.
Combined with a widespread market crash that happened around this time, investors were running for the hills and seeking ways to offload tokens.
As investors' portfolios continue to drop in value, many could be stranded thanks to a network that has shown it isn't the most reliable time and again.
Time for Developers to Step Up
The outage was the sixth to befall Solana's blockchain in January alone. Solana has been suffering from network outages for the better part of three months now, with one issue after another plaguing the rising blockchain and giving everyone doubts.
The outages are also partly due to the success of Solana. Developers are having problems with Ethereum, and many sought possible alternatives. In Solana, they found a blockchain that supports massive transaction loads and offers considerable security. So, they trooped to it.
As activity on the Solana network has grown, so has the blockchain's native token - SOL. In 2021 alone, SOL delivered almost 10,000 percent in gains - even with the mid-year market downturn.
Sadly, an increase in developer activity has shown that Solana might not be mature enough to handle this load.
Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of crypto exchange FTX and a major Solana affiliate, shared some insights in a Twitter thread following the outage. He said the Solana blockchain continued to do massive numbers even during the week of its outage.
"As far as I can tell, during the week when it's had performance issues, and if you exclude all of the voting transactions from the TPS, it's still processed more transactions than all other major blockchains. Combined," he wrote.
Bankman-Fried added that Solana is mostly out of slack - meaning demand for network capacity appears to have caught up with supply. Now is the time for Solana to become more scalable, and developers might not be willing to tolerate any other issues. As the crypto boss sees it, building - and building right - is the only way to break out of this problem.
Still Looking At The Future
All eyes are now on Solana as the blockchain looks to regain developers' trust. And, to be fair, Solana Labs has been doing its best to increase utility for everyone within its ecosystem.
This month, the company launched Solana Pay. This peer-to-peer payments infrastructure allows point-of-sale operators and e-commerce service providers to accept and settle transactions in different coins.
Solana Pay is the result of collaboration between Solana Labs and several other companies - including payments processor Circle, e-commerce payment operator Checkout.com, and payment gateway Citcon. It also includes wallet integrations from FTX and Phantom.
The tool will be a middleman between fiat-centric businesses and the crypto space, ensuring proper crypto engagement and adoption from traditional businesses and consumers.
Solana Pay accepts payments in different coins - including SOL, USDC, FTT, and SRM. The tool could also be integrated into emerging asset classes like non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Building more use cases for its blockchain and cryptocurrency is what got Solana Labs this far. But, it could all be for nothing if the company doesn't fix problems with its blockchain.
Blockchain developers are a picky bunch, and they'll be happy to move to some other platform if they don't get what they want. As Bankman-Fried said, now is the time to build carefully.