The blockchain is not just a payment method. There are different types of them and they serve different purposes. Firstly, there are very large networks around which very large technological innovations revolve, which are the most significant and most imposing. They are called infrastructure blockchains, because they embody the basis for all these digital networks.
Ultimately, infrastructure blockchains (also called layer 1) are the blockchain itself, on which projects & protocols can be implemented to improve or develop the infrastructure.
A blockchain of this type is capable of developing smart contracts (computer protocols which ensure that a task is completed and executed properly, that a contract is signed), which allows it to regulate and develop its own environment that applies to anything built on its platform. As a result, a blockchain of this type is able to create a customised and structured ecosystem.
In order to ensure the security of the network, the blockchain infrastructure is the place where transactions and blocks are validated, so it makes it obvious that each layer 1 has its own native token to be used as a reward for those who contribute to securing the network, as well as as a currency that can be exchanged for all the projects that will be built on this network, as well.
We can use collections of non-fungible tokens (NFT) to illustrate this point; for example, a collection based on the Ethereum blockchain would be sold in ETH, one based on Solana would be sold in SOL, etc.
In order to better understand which projects are involved, here are a few known layers 1:
- Near protocol
- Elrond (MultiversX now)
Obviously, there are many more, but this sample of various layer 1 blockchains.
In order for blockchain networks to be reliable, viable, and usable, they must meet three criteria, which are referred to as the trilemma of the blockchain by Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum's founder, as the biggest challenge. As of today, this trilemma remains unresolved.
There are three key elements to this: security, scalability, and decentralization. Until today, performing on two of them meant abandoning the third point. Ripple is secure and scalable but very centralized; Ethereum is secure, fairly decentralized but not very scalable; Bitcoin is very decentralized and secure but not at all scalable, etc.