With a market cap of more than $90 billion, Cardano has displaced Binance Coin and Tether as the third largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin and Ethereum.

It (along with Polkadot) has been described as the ‘Ethereum killer’ for its purported ability to do what Ethereum can do, only better.

As the table below shows, Cardano has delivered extraordinary gains over 12 months compared to most other assets, including cryptos.

Had you invested R1 000 in Cardano a year ago, it would today be worth more than R21 000, putting it multiples ahead of the returns delivered by Bitcoin, Ethereum and the stock market.

Cardano is up 115% since the start of August in anticipation of a major upgrade next month known as Alonzo which will allow self-actualising smart contracts to be written on its blockchain (which is a detailed ledger that records and validates transactions).

Cardano is being promoted by some as a rival to Ethereum and a platform that will revolutionise the way we transact and do business, essentially by eliminating agents and go-betweens (such as banks, stock exchanges and insurance agents).

Returns after investing R1 000 in different assets over 12 months:

Source: Revix

So, what is Cardano exactly, and why is there so much buzz around it? We asked Brett Hope Robertson (BHR), investment analyst at Revix, to sort