Cryptocurrencies
19
Jan
bnb chain

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What is BNB Chain (BNB)?

BNB Chain (BNB) is a smart contract platform created by the Binance exchange. BNB’s history begins in 2017. The first step towards the BNB Chain was taken in April 2019.

BNB Chain is built using the Cosmos SDK. DeFi sector has traditionally been the strength of the BNB Chain. BNB has been a stable investment compared to its competitors.

What is BNB Chain (BNB)?

BNB Chain (BNB) is a smart contract platform created by the Binance exchange. BNB Chain provides a scalable ecosystem for smart contracts and decentralized applications. Its competitors include Ethereum, Cardano, Solana, and Polygon.

BNB Chain came to the general public’s attention in the spring of 2021. It was the first real challenger to Ethereum in the smart contract platform sector. In a short period, its DeFi ecosystem gained many users and liquidity. At the same time, the BNB token skyrocketed to new record highs.

BNB is the native token of the BNB Chain. It was initially launched as Binance Coin, but today, the token’s name is BNB. This change was made in a rebranding that took place in 2022. At the same time, the Binance Smart Chain blockchain became the BNB Chain.

BNB is used to pay BNB Chain’s transaction fees and for staking. It also has separate uses on the Binance exchange, which makes it different from other platform tokens.

Basic information about the BNB Chain:

FeatureInfo
Founder Binance exchange
Category Smart-contract platform
Ticker BNB
Max supply 153 million BNB
Circulating supply 153 million BNB
All-time high (date) $690.93 (May 10, 2021)
All-time low (date) $0.09611 (Aug 1, 2017)

Follow the live price of BNB from this page: BNB price.

One of the most essential features of BNB Chain is its compatibility with EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine). This makes it easy to clone Ethereum apps to BNB Chain. All popular Ethereum apps have a BNB Chain version of them.

BNB is also a deflationary cryptocurrency, i.e., the circulating supply decreases over time. Binance uses part of the company’s profits to buy BNB tokens from the market. After this, the coins are burned (destroyed). Binance will continue this process until only 100 million BNB tokens are circulated.

The History of BNB

BNB’s history begins in 2017. It all started with the ICO organized by the Binance exchange in the summer of 2017. BNB was initially known as Binance Coin, an ERC-20 token launched on the Ethereum platform. The ticker has been BNB since the beginning.

As the name suggests, Binance Coin was the coin of the Binance exchange. Its primary use was paying trading fees on Binance. If you pay the fee using a BNB token, you will receive a 25% discount. This use case is still valid.

Binance became the most popular crypto exchange in just six months. In the process, Changpeng Zhao (see the image below), became one of the most famous and wealthiest people in the crypto industry. Zhao is the founder of Binance. He also served as the CEO until December 2023.

changpeng zhao
1 November 2022; Speaker Changpeng Zhao, Binance, on Centre Stage during the opening night of Web Summit 2022 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Web Summit via Sportsfile

When Binance emerged as the leading cryptocurrency exchange, BNB’s price surged. BNB has significantly benefited from the Binance use cases, especially during the bear markets. The price of BNB fell less than that of most cryptos in 2018 and 2022—even Bitcoin!

To learn more about Binance, read this article: Binance review. This guide will not discuss its features in more detail.

The history of BNB Chain

The first step towards the BNB Chain was taken in April 2019. That is when Binance launched its blockchain, Binance Chain. It was technically a very limited blockchain.

Binance Smart Chain (BSC) launched in the fall of 2020. It directly competed with Ethereum and other smart contract platforms. BSC entered the market perfectly and gained massive popularity in the crypto boom 2021.

Binance’s blockchains brought substantial new demand for the BNB token, which serves as the native token for both. BNB is used to pay transaction fees and for staking.

BSC has maintained its strong position in the market even after 2021. The table below shows the ranking list of smart contract platforms in the DeFi sector.

PlatformNative tokenTVLMarket share
Ethereum ETH $50.3 billion 57.0%
Tron TRX $9.5 billion 10.7%
BNB Chain BNB $5.7 billion 6.3%
Solana SOL $4.6 billion 5.2%
Arbitrum ARB $3.2 billion 3.6%
Blast BLAST $1.3 billion 1.5%
Avalanche AVAX 1.2 billion 1.4%
Base - 1.2 billion 1.3%

In February 2022, the rebranding of Binance Coin and Binance blockchains was carried out. Binance Chain and Binance Smart Chain were rebranded to BNB Beacon Chain and BNB Smart Chain, creating BNB Chain together. Binance Coin was rebranded to the same as its ticker, BNB.

The purpose of the rebranding was to drop the Binance name. It was used to emphasize BNB Chain’s independent position.

The Binance exchange made headlines in December 2023 after the SEC, which oversees the US securities market, fined it $4.3 billion. In the same context, Binance founder Changpeng Zhao had to resign.

Although it was a major news event, it did not significantly impact the BNB price. This is because the SEC’s investigation had been ongoing for years, and the market was happy it ended.

The technology of BNB Chain

BNB Chain is built using the Cosmos SDK. The Cosmos SDK provides tools for creating a scalable blockchain, and its IBC protocol enables blockchains to be linked together.

BNB Chain (BNB), Cronos (CRO), Thorchain (RUNE), and Cosmos Hub are the most famous blockchains built with the Cosmos SDK. BNB Chain is by far the largest of these regarding market value. It is roughly as valuable as the other Cosmos SDK-based blockchains combined.

Read more about the Cosmos SDK at docs.cosmos.network.

cosmos sdk

BNB Chain initially consisted of Binance Chain and Binance Smart Chain, renamed BNB Beacon Chain and BNB Chain in 2022. At the end of 2023, it was announced that the BNB Beacon Chain would be run down, so the future focus will be only on the BNB Chain.

BNB Chain is an EVM-compatible smart contract platform. This means that applications built on the Ethereum platform can be easily cloned to BNB Chain. In the next chapter, we will examine DeFi applications in more detail.

BNB Chain uses a variant of Proof of Stake called Proof of Staked Authority (PoSA). Its strength is scalability, but its weakness is decentralization. There are only 40 active validators on the BNB Chain.

Validators are bonding (staking) over 23.2 million BNB tokens, meaning 15 percent of the coins are in circulation. Delegation is also possible. The staking reward is slightly less than 3%, lower than competing options.

bnb chain staking

You can view up-to-date staking data at bnbchain.org/en/staking.

BNB Chain can handle about 2000 transactions per second, and the block time is only three seconds. BNB Chain is technically in the same ballpark as its biggest competitors and Ethereum’s Layer 2. Transaction fees are typically in the range of 0.1-0.2 dollars.

BNB Greenfield, opBNB and zkBNB

The BNB Chain ecosystem also includes BNB Greenfield, opBNB, and zkBNB technologies.

BNB Greenfield is a data platform linked to the BNB Chain that enables decentralized data management and ownership. Greenfield connects Ethereum-compatible addresses to manage data and token assets and links the information to the BNB Chain. It also provides application developers with Web2-style cloud storage APIs.

Greenfield is a different blockchain that consists of a network of service providers that monitor data storage and access rights.

opBNB is BNB Chain’s Layer 2 solution, implemented with the OP stack, i.e., Optimistic Rollup technology. zkBNB is a scaling solution utilizing Zero-Knowledge technology. The opBNB and zkBNB levels will be combined into one Layer 2.

Although the BNB Chain is already scalable, its transaction fees are many times higher than those of its worst competitors and Ethereum’s Layer 2. A fee of only $0.1 doesn’t sound cheap anymore compared to the costs of $0.01. Because of this, the BNB Chain also needs Layer 2.

DeFi & NFT on BNB Chain

DeFi sector has traditionally been the strength of the BNB Chain. In 2021, BNB Chain came to the general public’s attention precisely through DeFi apps. PancakeSwap has been the most popular DeFi app on BNB Chain. It is a decentralized exchange, equivalent to the popular Uniswap.

pancakeswap

PancakeSwap was one of the top 10 DeFi apps for a long time, but its popularity declined after 2021. At the same time, the BNB Chain ecosystem has started to lose its market share. BNB Chain controlled almost 15% of the DeFi market in 2021, but today, its share is just over 6%.

Two reasons for BNB Chain’s weakening position are Ethereum’s Layer 2s and the rise of competing smart contract platforms. At the beginning of 2021, there was practically no DeFi on platforms other than Ethereum and BNB Chain. Nowadays, there are already two dozen significant competitors.

The advantage of BNB Chain is its EVM compatibility. This enabled it to gain many new apps during 2021, when DeFi investors wanted alternatives for the expensive Ethereum fees. However, Ethereum’s Layer 2s have eaten away at BNB Chain’s popularity, offering even cheaper transactions and a direct link to the Ethereum blockchain.

BNB Chain is not a popular NFT platform. When the article was written, its most popular NFT collection did not even fit in the top 250 places in the all-time ranking list.

BNB as an investment

BNB has been a stable investment compared to its competitors. It has gone through two bear markets and maintained its value better than other cryptos during them. BNB’s price fell in 2018 and 2022 even less than Bitcoin’s.

BNB Chain has also maintained its position as one of the largest DeFi platforms on the market for three years, although its market share is declining. The BNB’s advantage is that it has use cases on Binance that other platform tokens don’t.

The BNB token gives you a 25 percent discount on Binance’s trading fees. It is also needed in the LaunchPad, where you can acquire new cryptos before they are listed on the exchange.

binance launchpad

BNB is, therefore, a hybrid of an exchange’s utility token and a native token of a smart contract platform. It should also not be forgotten that BNB is one of the few deflationary cryptocurrencies. Its supply decreases with the token burns every quarter.

BNB’s greatest strength is also its weakness. Although there have been attempts to separate BNB from Binance, it is still very strongly seen as a Binance project. The success of the Binance exchange has a significant impact on its future.

Another weakness is BNB’s market cap. It is many times bigger than Cardano, Polygon, Avalanche, and Tron. BNB’s growth potential is not at the level of its competitors. This is especially true considering its declining position in the DeFi sector.

The third weakness is BNB Chain’s technology. In the spring of 2021, BNB Chain was a cheap and fast blockchain, but now it looks expensive compared to Ethereum L2 alternatives and Solana.

BNB is suitable for investors who want a portfolio of the market’s largest and most reliable cryptocurrencies. It has also proven to be an excellent investment in bear markets. BNB is not a good choice for someone looking for high returns. There are cryptocurrencies with better potential.

If you want to buy BNB, you should do so on Binance. If you need detailed instructions, read our beginner’s guide to buying BNB. The article explains how to buy BNB on Binance step-by-step.

Antti Hyppänen

Antti Hyppänen is the founder and editor-in-chief of AboutBitcoin.io. Antti has written articles about cryptos since 2017. He follows the crypto market every day of the year and is responsible for the daily operations of AboutBitcoin. Antti is not a maximalist regarding any cryptocurrency but looks at the industry objectively. Antti’s investment profile is “buy & hold,” i.e., he does not trade or use leverage. His crypto portfolio consists of mainly Bitcoin and Ethereum. Antti also follows macroeconomic events. In addition to cryptos, his interests include gold, silver, and the US stock market.