That year was 2019. I went to the Rebel nightclub in Toronto for the Futurist Cryptocurrency Conference. It was a bear market at the time, and cryptocurrency prices were falling. People were talking about how the famous blockchain platform, Ethereum, was moving to a major development milestone, a proof-of-stake mining algorithm.
On Wednesday, I went to the same venue for the same conference held in person for the first time since 2019. Yet crypto is in a bear market and — surprise, surprise — Ethereum is still moving to proof of – Stake.
Ah, the great rhymes of history.
In a poetic twist, the event’s keynote speaker was none other than Ethereum’s principal co-founder, Vitalik Buterin.
Toronto is Buterin’s hometown and where the billion-dollar network was first developed. On Thursday, Mr. Buterin returned to Ground His Zero to talk about the project, which some critics said despite huge ratings.
Ethereum is undoubtedly the next cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. If you haven’t heard of it, you’ve probably heard of very expensive digital photos, NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) and all that runs on top of it.
Launched in 2014, Ethereum is a kind of base layer infrastructure upon which blockchain-based games and apps, peer-to-peer financial products, and even entire currencies can be built. The network aims to use Bitcoin’s decentralized principles to build the next internet where Big Tech does not control users. Web3. Yay.
In February, the total value of all applications and assets was estimated at US$585 billion. This made him one of the 10 most valuable companies in the world if they were publicly traded.
But what did Ethereum actually do?
Buterin asked the crypto world a similar question during the Bitcoin boom of 2017 when the value of all cryptocurrencies exceeded $5 trillion.
Buterin tweeted: But did we *earn* it?
“How many dapps (decentralized applications) have you created that have significant usage? How much value is stored in smart contracts (a core component of Ethereum) that actually do something interesting….hyperinflation How many Venezuelans were actually protected by us from
On Wednesday, the crowd cheered when Buterin provided an update on Ethereum’s transition to proof-of-stake, which is expected to be completed around mid-September. People laughed when Buterin acknowledged the “strange direction” that Ethereum has led cryptocurrencies.
“Billions of people have cryptocurrency wallets…why? Well, because they want to exchange pictures of monkeys,” he said.
Buterin said, “You have a really deep and philosophical debate” in trying to get people to participate in cryptocurrencies. Which do you think will work? ”
NFT transactions clog the Ethereum network on a daily basis, slowing down parts of the network.
Ethereum’s move to Proof of Stake has been debated for years, as it is seen as not only greener, but also a way to scale up the network to be able to handle more activity. However, delays have been postponed one after another.
The move has been so troubled that critics have talked about creating another Ethereum that essentially maintains the status quo, after the developer controversially reverted several transactions. It reminds me of the 2015 event when the network split in two.
This Proof of Stake move has also led to the establishment of new crypto markets. This marketplace allows coins to be locked into the future Ethereum network for a profit equivalent to interest, and its derivatives can be traded on the current network. The now-bankrupt crypto lender Celsius has been heavily involved in that entire game, with some observers saying the slow move is somewhat responsible for the recent crypto meltdown. I’m here.
Crypto games like Axie Infinity, on the other hand, are more about crypto than games. Critics called them repetitive and tedious, and because in-game objects have value outside of the game, users often choose game moves to make money rather than actually like playing them. I have experienced
Two days before Buterin spoke, the US government imposed unprecedented sanctions on Tornado Cash. Tornado Cash is a decentralized application on Ethereum that obscures transactions, often through illegal means.
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So what did Ethereum actually do? The sanctions against Tornado Cash have a broader implication, with a nasty response. How revolutionary is decentralized finance (DeFi) really if dapps are licensed by governments like anything else?
It’s been five years since Buterin asked if he “earned” the money the crypto world was raving about, and the question is just as relevant.
In an era of rising Big Tech dominance, Ethereum represents a much-needed vision and promise.
But how long will Ethereum be welcomed just for its potential?
Ethan Roux journalist and author of Former Bitcoin Miners: Scandals and Turmoil in the Crypto Wild West.