The Solana Ecosystem

The Solana Ecosystem
0 minute read


  • Why web3? Crypto, smart contracts, and decentralized apps
  • What makes Solana the faster, more affordable, and eco-friendly network
  • SOL: The native asset of the Solana network
  • A tour of the Solana ecosystem: DeFi, NFTs, DePIN, gaming, memecoins
  • Using Step Finance to get onchain in seconds

The Solana Network is home to the most exciting things happening online right now.

Solana represents a new generation of internet tech that uses crypto, blockchain, decentralized apps to make possible things like DeFi, NFTs, and an entire ecosystem of platforms, startups, services, and communities all over the world. In fact: Over 50 million transactions take place on Solana every day across over 500 apps — and that number is growing fast. 

For example: Solana is where everyday people share the power of IoT devices in their homes to create global, open data networks — and get paid for it. It’s where anyone, anywhere can access financial services ranging from savings to lending to trading — all without a bank. Solana is home to the world’s biggest community of digital artists and NFT collectors. It’s also where people can turn their knowledge of internet culture and community building into real profits with memecoins, and web3 gaming worlds where your in-game assets have real world value. 

As you can see, there’s a lot happening on Solana, and all of this is only possible because of the network’s unique properties. 

Compared to other web3 networks, Solana has three major advantages: incredibly high capacity for network traffic, its hyper-low fees, and its minimal impact on the environment. That means it’s affordable, it’s reliable, and it’s fast. You can send payments on Solana anywhere in the world and it takes only seconds and costs fractions of a cent. That’s what makes Solana’s diverse ecosystem of innovative products and services possible.

What makes Solana unique?

Before we dive into everything you can do on Solana, let’s discuss some of the key aspects of its tech…

At the core of Solana is smart contract technology. Smart contracts are what makes decentralized applications possible. Think of them as self-executing agreements.They make it so that payments, trades, and any kind of contract can execute automatically and without the need for third parties like banks or corporations that add cost, time, and censorship to an online transaction. 

Under the hood, Solana distinguishes itself from other web3 networks with a unique architecture. Solana is a Proof of Stake network, which means that thousands of computer nodes around the world called validators collaborate to keep the network running smoothly. Proof of Stake doesn’t require the costly and energy intensive process of mining that’s core to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin that use an older method called Proof of Work. By comparison, one single bitcoin transaction is equal to over seven million Solana transactions. In fact, Solana transactions consume about the same energy as 1.6 Google searches.

Additionally, Solana's architecture uses unique technology like Proof of History and parallel processing that enable the network can handle a huge scale of transactions without experiencing congestion or enduring prohibitive fees. Other leading web3 networks, like Ethereum for example, can be slow and expensive, and are often prone to periods of congestion and elevated fees. That makes them a bad choice for the kind of scale required for Solana’s cutting edge platforms.

SOL: The Native Currency of Solana

SOL is the cryptocurrency of the Solana network, its native asset, and It has many uses. You can treat SOL as a means of exchange to pay for goods and services on Solana. You can also approach SOL as an investment. SOL has proven to be one of the largest and fastest growing cryptocurrencies since its launch in 2020, and billions of dollars are transacted in SOL every day. 

SOL is also essential in keeping the Solana network operating via staking. This is at the core of the Proof of Stake consensus mechanism referenced above. Here’s how it works: Users stake SOL by locking it up in the network, where it plays a key role in maintaining network stability and security. In return, these validators are rewarded in SOL. 

In addition to SOL, Solana supports the creation of an entire spectrum of tokens and digital assets. There are over 1000 tokens built on Solana, and they can include cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and utility tokens for specific decentralized applications. These utility tokens can range in use cases from staking to rewards, micropayments, and even used to vote on how certain Solana platforms are governed.

To get going in the Solana ecosystem, you’ll need SOL. You can learn more about How to Buy and Trade SOL in our explainer.

A Quick Tour of the Solana Ecosystem

Because Solana is so easy to use, affordable, and highly performant, there’s been an explosion of sectors and applications being built on it that you can use right now. ‘Only Possible on Solana’ is a phrase that’s come to exemplify the kind of technology that’s emerging on Solana every day. 

Here’s what we mean: 


Before you do anything on Solana, you’ll need a wallet. Online wallets are a great option for storing, buying, and swapping SOL and other digital assets. They come in many forms, and for varying types of users. 

Solflare — The safest way to explore Solana. Buy, store, swap tokens and NFTs, and access Solana DeFi from web or mobile
Phantom — A multichain wallet for exploring web3 across Solana, Ethereum, and Polygon on mobile and desktop
Backpack — An NFT-focused crypto wallet for Solana and Ethereum
Coinbase Wallet — The self-custody wallet provided by the Coinbase exchange
Coin98 — An all-in-one DeFi platform for borrowing, lending, investing and staking.
Exodus — Crypto wallet that supports 50+ tokens
Glow — A fast and friendly Solana wallet 

All of the wallets above are self-custody, meaning your tokens will be under your own possession. 

Read more about Solana Wallets.


DeFi on Solana

Decentralized finance is a core sector of web3. Solana DeFi platforms offer a diverse array of financial products, including lending protocols, decentralized exchanges, staking and yield farming.

Step Finance — A dashboard for Solana, and an essential tool for navigating the Solana ecosystem 
Kamino — Makes lending and borrowing Solana assets available to anyone
Jupiter Exchange — A popular app for swapping tokens and advanced trading tools
Marinade Finance — Automated staking for SOL and solana applications
Orca — A decentralized exchange built to be as easy to use as possible
Raydium — An advanced finance platform for Solana ecosystem
Zeta — A decentralized futures trading platform for advanced traders

Jump ahead to the DeFi on Solana explainer to learn more about decentralized finance.


NFTs on Solana 

Solana is home to the world’s biggest NFT marketplaces and digital art communities, with creators and collectors flocking to the platform to mint, trade, and showcase digital artwork and collectibles. NFTs like Mad Lads and Claynosaurz 

Magic Eden — A leading cross-chain NFT marketplace
Tensor — A leading Solana NFT marketplace with an advanced suite of trading tools
Exchange Art — A fine art marketplace focused on unique pieces by independent creators
DRiP — Connects creators and collectors with free NFTs every day
Metaplex — A platform for creating and launching digital assets
Dialect — A social messaging app with NFT stickers


DePIN on Solana

DePIN — which stands for decentralized physical infrastructure networks — sits at the cusp of the Internet of Things and decentralized networking. Via DePIN platforms, everyday people can contribute computer power in their homes towards endeavors like computer rendering, mobile networking, and geolocation services — and earn for the services they provide. 

Helium — Provides nationwide 5G wireless mobile network in the US
Render — Decentralized  processing for high powered computing 
Hivemapper — Decentralized geolocation mapping for navigation, automotive, and logistics
ShdwDrive — Decentralized cloud storage that runs on Solana


Gaming on Solana 

One of the fastest growing sectors in web3 is Solana gaming. Today’s most exciting gaming experiences utilize Solana for seamless in-game transactions and asset ownership. 

Star Atlas — Search for resources in a massive, futuristic, NFT-powered universe
Aurory — Fight battles across an expansive RPG world with pvp gameplay and NFT trading
Photo Finish LIVE — a play-to-earn virtual horse racing ecosystem
Dungeons and Degens — A retro RPG built around collecting digital assets as loot
Caveworld — a play-to-earn battle game with NFT


Last but not least, memecoins are a type of cryptocurrency that gain popularity primarily through memes, social media, and online communities rather than traditional investment fundamentals. Unlike established cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Solana, which are built for utility, memecoins are often intended as jokes or parodies. While some memecoins may start as lighthearted experiments or community-driven projects, they can attract significant attention and trading volume, leading to volatile price fluctuations. 

Solana memecoins like BONK and Dogwifhat have built active global communities of traders and fans. However, although they can be lots of fun to explore, you should exercise caution when considering trading memecoins, as their value can be highly speculative and prone to rapid changes based on social media trends and sentiment.

If you’re especially interested in memecoins, jump to the Memecoin lesson.

Try Step

Now that you have this handy guide map of the Solana ecosystem, a great way to start exploring it is with wallet dashboard apps like Step. 

Step is the largest portfolio dashboard on Solana. It provides data insights about your wallets and the Solana ecosystem. That’s why it’s referred to as the front page of Solana

Step connects to your wallets, and allows you to trade, stake, engage with DeFi, and access NFTs all in one easy-to-use interface. It plugs right into your Solana wallets with insights and analytics about the Solana ecosystem all in one easy interface. 

Head to