Decentralized app (dApps) hub Solana (SOL -3.17%) and its coins have witnessed stellar gains -- up a stunning 9,500% since the beginning of the year. SOL is now the world's seventh-largest cryptocurrency, with a market cap of $43.9 billion. But up until recently, the Solana network had little fundamental value. Investors were euphoric about its technological advantage over networks such as Ethereum (CRYPTO: ETH) as a fast and scalable blockchain that can execute smart contracts

With its coins down over 20% from all-time highs, now's not the time to follow the crowd but to be a contrarian and buy the dip. Let's find out why. 

Blockchain concept across a digital carpet.

Image source: Getty Images.

Great accomplishments 

The first catalyst is that Solana has grown rapidly in the span of the past few months. Total value locked (TVL), which is the sum of all assets deposited in decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, on its platform surpassed $10 billion. What's more, the network lived up to its potential to process over 2,000 transactions per second with an average transaction cost of less than $0.01. In comparison, Ethereum, the crypto of choice in powering dApps, can only handle 10 to 15 transactions per second on its network, with costly fees.

Solana has attracted a fair number of partnerships due to its cutting-edge technology. For starters, FTX, the 17th largest cryptocurrency exchange globally by daily trading volume ($2.4 billion), selected the Solana blockchain to facilitate derivatives trading on its platform. Next, developers of stablecoin USD Coin have issued over $2.3 billion worth of USDC for use on the Solana blockchain, citing fast transaction times. Then there's blockchain music streaming Audius, which is using Solana to build its infrastructure. Audius has surpassed over 5 million users per month and is backed by celebrities such as Katy Perry. 

Amazing catalysts 

But it's not just partnerships that are causing Solana to gain traction. The rapid deployment of decentralized applications, especially decentralized exchanges (DEX), is spearheading Solana to new heights. Notable DEXs include Saber and Orca, which enable investors to swap for numerous different type of altcoins. In addition, users can deposit their namesake tokens, which are built on the Solana blockchain, to the Saber and Orca platforms and earn rewards for providing trading liquidity. This narrows the gap between bid-ask prices for cryptocurrencies trading pairs, resulting in lower costs for investors.

Aside from DEX, borrowing and lending platforms are also gaining momentum on the Solana blockchain. These include sites like Mint and SolFarm. Users can deposit their crypto and take out a stablecoin loan. This ensures their investment can continue to grow while everyday expenses are paid via the borrowed funds. Interest rates are very reasonable, ranging from 6% to 11% per year.

The number of dApps built on Solana surged to 208 this year. Slowly but surely, Solana is beginning to catch up to the 2,866 dApps built using Ethereum infrastructure. With the network expanding at this rate, Solana could very well climb further up the podium over the next two years or so. It's definitely a top cryptocurrency I would recommend investors check out.