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LearnCrypto 101

What are dapps?

Lipsa Das
    What are dApps?

    Key takeaways

    • Decentralized applications (or dapps) are blockchain-based software apps that do not rely on a third party and are built using smart contracts.
    • dapps solve data ownership and censorship problems across major industries — from finance and business to gaming and social media.
    • With your Phantom wallet, you can explore dapps across all the major chains, such as Ethereum, Solana, and Polygon, in a few clicks.

    Most of the apps we use today like Facebook, TikTok, or YouTube are centralized. And while these services provide value and convenience, they come with tradeoffs. Since they're controlled by a single authority, it introduces inherent risks to user security and data privacy.

    And it's not just about data — one party making the rules also means they can change them whenever they want. This means an application can change features or censor or ban users without notice.

    Decentralized applications, or applications that run on the blockchain, offer solutions to these problems.

    What are dapps?

    Decentralized applications (dapps) are like normal apps, but they're built using smart contracts and run on the blockchain.

    The core promise of dapps is to provide greater freedom and ownership over user data than traditional web apps. Because they're decentralized, there’s no single point of failure, which makes them more secure and censorship-resistant than their centralized counterparts.

    Dapps are accessible, just like a normal website — through your desktop or mobile web browser. However, instead of logging in with email addresses or phone numbers, you connect using your decentralized identity, aka your crypto wallet. Once you’re connected, you can use your wallet to interact with all the dapp's functionality.

    While many dapps start on one network, some — such as Opensea and Uniswap — have grown to support multiple chains. This means they provide the same utility and user experience across multiple blockchain ecosystems, lending to the overall interoperability of web3.

    Since we live in a blockchain world, you'll often see us refer to dapps as just apps (it's cleaner). You can access every app (or dapp) on Ethereum, Solana, and Polygon with Phantom.

    What are the main types of dapps?

    Dapps have the potential to disrupt a wide range of industries — from finance, to art, and games. Let’s take a look at some of the prominent use cases for dapps and how you can use them with Phantom:


    Decentralized finance or DeFi lets you access all the services from the traditional financial system like borrowing, lending, and trading, but without the need for intermediaries like banks or financial institutions. You can borrow, lend, and trade your crypto, all without relying on any third party.

    You can explore the world of DeFi with your Phantom wallet across major chains like Ethereum, Polygon, and Solana. Here are some of the types of DeFi applications we recommend exploring:

    Decentralized exchanges

    Usually, the first step in a crypto beginner’s journey involves a centralized exchange (CEX) to convert their fiat currency to crypto. While CEXs can be feel easy and intuitive, they're not the safest for storing your funds — since the company behind the service can lose or block your access.

    Decentralized exchanges, or DEXs, are the solution to this problem. DEXs rely on smart contracts to facilitate peer-to-peer trades, so you can trade crypto while retaining full control of your assets — without having to trust a third party.


    If you’re excited to dive into the world of DEXs, we recommend starting with Uniswap. Trusted by millions of users, Uniswap is the preferred DEX for the Ethereum and Polygon ecosystems. Connecting with your Phantom wallet is quick and easy — just click on the "Connect" button, click "MetaMask," and click confirm in Phantom.

    Lending and borrowing platforms

    Traditional banks have their pain points — hidden fees, inefficient and slow transactions, and high barriers for credit approval. While our banking systems work, there's a lot of room for improvement. Decentralized lending and borrowing platforms offer solutions.


    AAVE is a DeFi protocol that offers a new way for users to borrow and lend cryptocurrencies from each other, without needing to go through a third party like a bank.

    You can use other cryptocurrencies and real-world assets as collateral while borrowing from the protocol.  The process is instant, and operates 24/7, which means you don't need to wait two to three business days for your requests to be processed. You can also directly lend to the protocol or other users, earning you interest on your crypto.


    Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are unique tokens on the blockchain, typically representing ownership of a real-world or digital asset. While NFTs started with art and collectibles, they're now being used for membership passes, music, and even real-world assets.

    You can look up NFTs of all kinds and genres via NFT marketplaces like OpenSea or Tensor. These marketplaces allow you to buy, sell, trade, and view popular NFTs. To get started, visit any NFT marketplace, connect your Phantom wallet, and voila, you’re ready to dive into the world of NFTs.


    Decentralized gaming offers players a new level of control and monetization within games. Powered by NFTs and in-game tokens, web3 games give users more control of their games, allowing them to own elements like characters, weapons, land, etc. Players can choose to sell them to earn money or just upgrade their gaming experience.

    Phantom makes it easy for you to play web3 games. Here are some you should try:

    Star Atlas

    Star Atlas is a a blockchain-based space themed game. Star Atlas offers a fully immersive gameplay experience where you can fly ships, navigate the stars and planets, participate in territorial conquests and interstellar warfare — all while getting rewards for doing so.

    In Star Atlas, you can get rewarded for the time you spend playing in space. These rewards are typically in the form of theStar Atlas native tokens’ $ATLAS and $POLIS, unique NFTs, or in-game items.

    Learn more about Star Atlas on our Zeitgeist Podcast episode with Founder and CEO Michael Wagner.

    Planet Mojo

    Planet Mojo features a player-vs-player game where you play competitive chess battles. You can own the heroes (“Mojos”) in the game, upgrade them, or trade them. Further, Planet Mojo plans to expand to a metaverse of games — meaning you’ll have access to a wide variety of strategy and competitive games you can play with your customized characters.

    Listen to our podcast with Planet Mojo CEO Mike Levine to learn more.

    Social and publishing

    Social apps built on the blockchain allow you to take full ownership of your content and audience, allowing you to move your identity from one app to the next without the need to create new profiles. For creators, decentralized publishing apps open up new ways to monetize and distribute content.

    Here are two decentralized media apps worth exploring with your trusty Phantom wallet:

    Lens Protocol

    Lens Protocol is a decentralized social graph that developers can leverage to build social dapps. With Lens Protocol, you can use a single social profile across hundreds of social applications built on Lens. Want to move to a new app? Your identity, content, and audience go with you.

    Claim your handle and explore hundreds of decentralized apps built on Lens.


    Although web3 writing platforms operate similarly to traditional platforms like Medium and Substack, they are censorship resistant and enable a direct relationship with your audience.

    Mirror.xyz, a web3 writing platform has a unique model which allows you to mint your content as NFTs. You can crowdfund writing projects, auction NFTs, and own your work. To get started on Mirror, all you need to do is connect your Phantom wallet and start writing.

    Dapps: The next generation of applications

    Dapps change how we interact with applications and the internet as a whole. What’s more: we’re still in the early stages. The next generation of applications is here — decentralized, autonomous, and full of possibilities.

    Phantom makes navigating the world of decentralized apps a breeze. If you’re just getting started, download Phantom and read our setup guides to get started.