To put it bluntly, Ether sank like a stone in 2018. Ethereum investors watched in horror as the blockchain protocol that virtually designed 2017 suffered losses in value and credibility. Ethereum was suddenly slow and expensive, stuffed with scammy ICO projects, and losing market share to upstarts like EOS (EOS), NEO (NEO), and Stellar Lumens (XLM).
But, just like that, the tide may be turning. Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin has expressed uncertainty at various times this year, sounding like the shell of boy genius who revolutionised the crypto space just a few years ago. In recent days, Buterin seems ready to lead with confidence, and the market has responded. ETH broke $220 for the first time in weeks, and may be preparing for a major correction if investor sentiment continues its present momentum.
Ethereum Finally Approaches Proof of Stake
Proof of stake is the technological innovation which Ethereum has been trying to actualise in its technology for many months. Proof of stake is a major upgrade from proof of work, the mining method by which Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others add new coins to the circulating supply, as well as secure transactions recorded on the blockchain.
Proof-of-work mining is secure, but costly. It’s energy intensive, Bitcoin alone consuming more energy than some small nations. Though Buterin hasn’t yet given a date, Ethereum will soon begin to abandon mining, instead using a manual security and verification process run by stakeholders.
Ethereum’s proof-of-stake solution is called Casper. Casper will be just one of many important innovations that will be part of “Ethereum 2.0” (as the media often calls it), or Serenity (as Buterin calls it). Serenity is the 4th of four planned stages for the evolution of Ethereum, following Frontier (July 2015), Homestead (March 2016), and Metropolis (October 2017).
Some of these innovations include Sharding, which could enable Ethereum to increase speeds by several orders of magnitude. ZKSnarks will make full proof private transactions and ownership possible on Ethereum. New virtual machine fundamentals will make it easier than ever to develop on Ethereum, and for Dapps to perform at new levels.
JP Morgan Chase Now Uses Ethereum
Another major point for Ethereum came when banking giant JP Morgan Chase announced they’d begun using the Ethereum blockchain for enterprise. JP Morgan’s “Quorum” is a version of the Ethereum blockchain that runs smart contracts for company tasks.
Says JP Morgan’s Umar Farooq about applications performed within Quorum, “There are people outside our firm using Quorum to tokenise gold…They wrap a gold bar in a tamper-proof case electronically tagged, and they can track the gold bar from the mine to the endpoint…If you know it’s a socially responsible mine, someone will be willing to pay a higher spread on that gold versus if you don’t know where it comes from. Diamonds is another example.”
Just a year ago, JP Morgan head Jamie Dimon called Bitcoin a fraud, and the CEO has been occasionally critical of other key market players. The adoption of Ethereum is a major vote of confidence from a traditional market maker, one which could help cement Ethereum’s role in the global financial ecosystem, at a key moment prior to the release of Serenity.
Where Will Ethereum Prices Go From Here?
At its all-time-high, investors would buy Ethereum for $1,500 per token. At the start of November, prices dipped beneath $200. Ethereum has been one of the hardest-hit major cryptocurrencies, and there were numerous times during the past year that key investors seemed to leave it for dead.
Despite Ethereum’s difficult days, the blockchain remains the most integrated with global technology infrastructure. It’s also the world’s most aggressively developed blockchains, or technologies of any kind. We expect Ether prices to recover modestly as more news of Serenity/Casper starts to spread. As a release date becomes clear, expect more intense price gains to accrue.
If Ethereum is truly able to achieve transactions in the thousands per second, expect the blockchain to become a juggernaut, making good on the massive potential touted by its supporters these past several years. Even in its present form – expensive and sluggish – Ethereum is already used daily by enterprises and individuals all around the world. Imagine what it could achieve in its mature form?
(*Information in this article should not be taken as investment advice.)