• Market downturns can be a smart opportunity to buy at a discount
  • Ethereum is one of the strongest players in the crypto space, but it has its weaknesses
  • Solana is already a worthy competitor, and it could have an even brighter future

The stock market as a whole has taken a beating over the last few months, and cryptocurrency has been hit especially hard. The global crypto market has lost more than $1 trillion in the past six months, and individual cryptocurrencies have seen their prices plummet.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't invest right now. Crypto is a riskier investment because nobody knows for certain whether it will survive a major downturn. But right now is also one of the most affordable times to invest, as prices are the lowest they've been in months.

Choosing the right investment is tough, because all cryptocurrencies are speculative right now. But there's one crypto that could have a bright future ahead of it: Solana (SOL -4.33%).

How does Solana compare to Ethereum?

Ethereum (ETH -1.87%) is one of the most popular cryptocurrencies of the past two years, and it has plenty of advantages. Its network is the most widely used for decentralized applications (dApps), including decentralized finance (DeFi) projects and non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces.

The biggest problem plaguing Ethereum, however, is its speed (or lack thereof). Currently, the network can only handle around 13 transactions per second. Slower speeds also mean higher transaction fees, and developers and users alike have been flocking to Ethereum's competitors as a result.

Cryptocurrency purchases in rubles are at a record high
Cryptocurrency purchases in rubles are at a record high AFP / Nhac NGUYEN

One of those competitors is Solana, which shines in the areas where Ethereum falters. Like Ethereum, Solana is a smart contract platform that can host dApps. However, it boasts speeds of up to 65,000 transactions per second, making it one of the fastest networks in existence.

Solana also recently revealed its latest project, Solana Pay, which is a decentralized payment system. Solana Pay allows merchants to accept crypto as a form of payment. Its decentralized nature means there are no intermediaries, it's incredibly energy efficient, transactions happen instantly, and fees are just a fraction of a penny.

With Solana Pay, the cryptocurrency is not only competing in the dApp space, but it's also becoming a stronger payment coin. This type of diversity could help Solana succeed in multiple areas, potentially even competing with companies like Visa and Mastercard.

Should you invest in Solana right now?

If you've been on the fence about Solana, now could be a smart opportunity to buy. Its price is down nearly 80% since November, and if it does rebound from this crash, you could see substantial returns.

That said, there are risks to consider. For one, Solana uses a proof of history consensus mechanism, which is different from most other cryptocurrencies. While this does increase Solana's speed and efficiency, it could also make it less secure and more vulnerable to attacks, according to a 2021 report from investment firm Grayscale.

Also, Solana could face stiffer competition in the future, especially as Ethereum completes its upgrade. Ethereum is currently in the process of moving to a proof of stake protocol, which could potentially result in speeds of up to 100,000 transactions per second. If that happens, Solana could lose its biggest competitive advantage.

This doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't invest in Solana. Every cryptocurrency has its strengths and weaknesses, and they're all speculative at this point. Whether Solana is right for you will depend on how much you believe in its potential as well as your tolerance for risk.

The crypto market may be in a slump, but it's managed to recover from periods of volatility in the past. While nobody knows what the future has in store for crypto, Solana could be one to watch this year.

This article originally appeared in the Motley Fool.

Katie Brockman has positions in Ethereum. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.