What is Avalanche?
April 20, 2023

Avalanche is an EVM-compatible, open-source blockchain with smart contract functionality for decentralized applications (dApps). Avalanche’s native token is AVAX.

What is Avalanche?

Avalanche is a decentralized, open-source blockchain network designed for creating and deploying decentralized applications (dApps), smart contracts, and digital items. Developed by Ava Labs, and launched in September 2020, the platform is built with a focus on high throughput, low latency, and energy-efficient consensus mechanisms to provide a scalable and secure environment for various use cases, including decentralized finance (DeFi), NFTs, and enterprise blockchain solutions.

Avalanche is an L1 blockchain. Layer 1 blockchains are main, or base level, blockchains. This means they execute and validate transactions on their own, without assistance. 

Per Avalanche’s whitepaper, the blockchain targets three broad use cases:

  1. Building application-specific blockchains, spanning permissioned (private) and permissionless (public) deployments.
  2. Building and launching highly scalable and decentralized applications (dApps).
  3. Building arbitrarily complex digital assets with custom rules, covenants, and riders (smart assets).

How does the Avalanche platform work?

The Avalanche platform is a heterogenous network of blockchains. In homogeneous networks, all applications exist in the same chain, but in heterogeneous networks, separate chains can be created for different applications.

Imagine a company’s organizational chart: the CEO sits at the top of the chart and is followed by the head of departments. Avalanche functions similarly. The “CEO” in this case is The Primary Network, which is where blockchain consensus methods take place.

Each “head of the department” is one of the three blockchains that make up Avalanche. Those three blockchains are Exchange Chain (X-Chain), which is responsible for operations on Avalanche Native Tokens, Platform Chain (P-Chain), which is responsible for all validator and Subnet-level operations, and Contract Chain (C-Chain), which is an implementation of the Ethereum Virtual Machine. 

While developers can choose to build on any of the three blockchains, they would still need to stake AVAX and be a member of their individual blockchain and The Primary Network. 

What are the key features of the Avalanche blockchain?


Avalanche is designed to offer high transaction throughput and fast confirmation times, with the capability to process thousands of transactions per second (tps) and achieve sub-second finality.


The platform is built to scale with demand, enabling it to handle an increasing number of transactions and dApps without facing significant performance issues or network congestion.


Avalanche uses a novel consensus mechanism called Avalanche Consensus, which is based on the Snow family of protocols. This consensus algorithm is designed to be lightweight, energy-efficient, and highly secure, making it more environmentally friendly compared to traditional Proof of Work (PoW) systems.

Flexible architecture

Avalanche features a unique architecture consisting of multiple custom blockchains, called subnets, which can be tailored to specific use cases and requirements. This flexibility allows developers to create customized solutions for various industries and applications.


The platform supports cross-chain communication and transfers, enabling seamless interactions between different blockchain networks and facilitating the exchange of data across multiple ecosystems.

Community governance

Avalanche employs a community-driven governance model, allowing token holders to participate in the network's decision-making process by voting on proposals and upgrades.

EVM compatibility

Avalanche is compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which enables developers to easily deploy and run Ethereum-based dApps and smart contracts on the Avalanche network with minimal modifications.

What is Avalanche’s validation method, the Avalanche Consensus Protocol?

Avalanche has its own consensus mechanism (the mechanism by which a blockchain agrees on which transactions are recorded), called the Avalanche Consensus Protocol, which is based on the Snow family of protocols. 

The Avalanche Consensus Protocol combines Classical Consensus (all votes have to be unanimous to erase the probability of failure) and Nakamoto Consensus (the basis for Proof-of-Work).

Unlike Blockchains that use the Proof-of-Work method, which verify transactions using miners that solve complex math equations to verify each transaction, the Avalanche Consensus Protocol uses the Proof-of-Stake method to verify transactions. Blockchains that use the Proof-of-Stake method verify transactions using validators. Validators are users who stake large amounts of that blockchain’s cryptocurrency. These validators check each transaction and monitor all activity on the blockchain to ensure it’s correct. This method has validators vote on the outcome.

Avalanche Consensus Protocol is also unique in that nodes aren’t constantly “on” monitoring for transactions to verify; instead, they only turn “on” when there is something to verify. 

What are Avalanche’s main uses?

Avalanche DeFi

Decentralized Finance, often shortened to simply “DeFi,” is the term used to describe all financial services that operate on blockchain technology. DeFi enables trustless, permissionless, and fast transactions. On Avalanche, you’ll find DeFi applications like DeBank and Dexalot

Avalanche dApps

Decentralized Apps (or dApps) utilize blockchain technology, though they don’t necessarily need to be decentralized themselves. dApps can be operated via peer-to-peer network on the blockchain, or they can operate using traditional hierarchical structures, but what makes them dApps is their utilization of decentralized protocols. Examples include OpenSea, Uniswap, In Avalanche’s dApp ecosystem, you’ll find Blocknet, Core, and Dappradar.

Avalanche NFTs

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are unique digital items stored on a blockchain. NFTs can represent almost anything, and serve as a digital record of ownership. Examples of NFTs include art, music, collectibles, in-game items, domain names, memberships, and more. Avalanche’s blockchain is home to art collections like 30 Years of Airbus Helicopters (created in commemoration of the Airbus helicopter and gifted to employees as a celebration) and gaming NFT collections like Chikn

Does Avalanche have a native token?

Yes, AVAX is Avalanche’s native token and it can be used to purchase items on the Avalanche blockchain. Per Avalanche, “it’s a hard-capped, scarce asset that is used to pay for fees, secure the platform through staking, and provide a basic unit of account between the multiple Subnets created on Avalanche.” 

You can purchase AVAX through an exchange, and then transfer it to your wallet. If your wallet permits, you may also be able to purchase AVAX directly through your wallet extension.

Since Avalanche is EVM-compatible, you can easily add it to Ethereum-based wallets, such as MetaMask. OpenSea is comaptible with a number of wallets including MetaMask and the Avalanche-based wallet extension, Core.

How can I store Avalanche?

You’ll need an Avalanche-compatible wallet to store, buy, or sell cryptocurrency or digital items. Setting up a crypto wallet differs from wallet to wallet. For Avalanche, OpenSea is compatible with MetaMask or Core. 

Is OpenSea compatible with Avalanche?

Yes, OpenSea supports the Avalanche C-Chain.

🧠 Q&A

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