Ethereum Interest, Development on the Rise
If you’ve been living under a proverbial rock for the past 12 months, you’d be forgiven for asking “What happened to Ethereum?” To quickly fill in some historical gaps, we’ll quickly explain that Ethereum proved unable to scale with growing demand without driving up costs and decreasing transaction speeds. This, coupled with a “party’s over” atmosphere in the crypto investment markets at large, means that today’s Ether is trading at a small fraction of its all-time high of +$1,500.
This process didn’t happen overnight. Ether’s slump was gradual and, over and over, industry analysts thought we’d found the bottom. With the global markets finally in (hopefully) steady sideways action, the Ether buying community seems to be giving Ethereum a cautious re-appraisal. Could this be the beginning of a major Ethereum recovery?
Ethereum’s Devoted Developers…and Haters
Ethereum hit a conspicuous speedbump in October when the Constantinople hard fork was delayed until 2019. The major technical update would update numerous aspects of Ethereum, making it sleaker and faster, while accelerating its move beyond its reliance upon proof-of-work mining consensus protocols.
The delay is a black eye for Ethereum, but recent events have proved that, if anything, Ethereum development is progressing faster than ever before.
Ethereum has been shown to have more development activity than all but 4 technology projects on GitHub. Even though the Ethereum community is slow to come to a consensus on the scope of Constantinople (and other future hard forks), this establishes that progress is being steadily made. Ethereum’s next evolution may be delayed, but its development is certainly not inactive.
This brings us to a second source of interest for the massive blockchain smart contract platform: Ethereum haters. The charge is led by Nouriel Roubini, conventional markets economist who predicted the 2008 financial crisis, and who is now calling Ethereum a scam.
Roubini has challenged Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin to a debate, where Buterin will explain Ethereum‘s claim to validity. Buterin agreed to the debate with composed nonchalance (“Yeah sure why not”), but Ethereum fans expect the eloquence that so often follows Buterin in public addresses.
Roubini’s public criticisms can be seen as a good thing for Ethereum, and crypto at large. Roubini makes certain indisputable claims about blockchain, smart contracts, and Ethereum in particular (many ICOs are scams, for example). But in other statements, Roubini steps far afield of reality. He’s called Buterin a billionaire (he isn’t). He’s called Ethereum itself a scam, plain and simple (the dozens of institutional members of the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance must be shocked).
If Roubini holds true to form, his blanket statements are likely to seem imprecise and strident on the debate stage. But even if the older economist comes out the better, a frank discussion of Ethereum’s strengths and weaknesses, with its creator himself, will be a good thing for the worldwide crypto community.
Can Ethereum Deliver?
All of this proves nothing more than that there is an air of expectation regarding Ethereum. Will Ethereum markets ever recover? Will upcoming protocol updates bring Ethereum back into blockchain technology dominance? Is Ethereum too large, complex, and cumbersome to retrofit itself to deal with challenging upstarts like NEO and the hordes of NEO investors?
We see three basic paths forward for Ethereum at this time.
1) Ethereum prices could rise in a market recovery sparked by other cryptocurrencies. The crypto markets are very often an all-or-nothing affair, where the prices of all tokens rise and fall together regardless of individual developments. If a bull run were to transpire (and we just might be due for such an upward correction), Ethereum would no doubt be swept up in the upward momentum. This would have nothing to do with Ethereum development, but investors would, in this case, conclude that Ethereum is too big and too powerful to discount, even in its current hobbled form.
2) Ethereum slowly changes course. Everybody is impatient for Ethereum to fix itself, but these changes may take months or years. Ethereum may not improve as fast as we might want, but if it manages to “cross the finish line” someday, all of its investors’ patience would be validated.
3) Ethereum gets surpassed by competitors. In this case, other smart contract platforms (NEO, ICON, ARK, Elastos, Ethereum Classic, EOS all come to mind) take to much of Ethereum’s market share that the older platform never recovers its former glory.
So we wait. In one corner we have Ethereum developers, working around the clock to change their fortunes. In the other corner, we have Ethereum’s critics, trying to tear it down in short order. Who will win? Stay tuned.
(*Information in this article should not be taken as investment advice.)