Despite the hurdles facing the platform, the Ethereum network could end up emerging stronger and accomplish the milestones it set out to achieve in 2017, especially those related to smart contracts.
Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, in his paper “Opportunities and Challenges for Private and Consortium Blockchains” released by the R3 Consortium earlier this year, highlighted some of the milestones, which include:
- Serenity (‘Ethereum 1.5’): the release of the proof of stake (Casper) version of the Blockchain, also including Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) 101 and 105. Expected in early 2017.
- Web Assembly release (‘Ethereum 1.75’): faster virtual machine. Expected in 2017.
- Ethereum 2.0 (yet unnamed): initial scalability release. Expected in late 2017.
- Ethereum 3.0 (yet unnamed): ‘unlimited’ scalability release. Expected in late 2018.
Even the release of Metropolis, the Mist browser which was expected by summer/fall 2016, has been assumingly delayed due to various issues. The biggest issue concerns the recurring attacks on the network that have necessitated four separate hard forks in the past few months.
The benefits of the Ethereum ecosystem
Undoubtedly, these milestones will be significant to the Ethereum ecosystem if and when most or all of them are eventually achieved. Like Bitcoin, the Ethereum protocol has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Ethereum popularized the concept of smart contracts which is expected to increase the value of its native asset, Ether or ETH. According to Kraken CEO Jesse Powell, the currency has appreciated more than ten times compared to only about three times for Bitcoin in the past year, though it has been fraught with slight drops now and then.
In the currently ongoing Kraken contest, 13 participating teams coming from various universities across the world were asked to choose their preference between the Bitcoin and Ethereum network for a possible $1 mln investment within a 5-year period. Three of those teams chose Ethereum.
In particular to this case is the submission by the team from the Robert A. Foisie School of Business at WPI. The team devoted 100 percent of their investment to Ethereum on the basis that the platform has the potential to generate revenue streams. In addition, the team highlighted that it could serve as the operating system of partnerships with corporate or government agencies, such as the Federal Reserve, international governments and publicly traded financial institutions, who have all hinted they would be interested in Blockchain applications as a means to reduce transaction costs and improve transparency.
Ethereum-based projects are still springing up
It didn’t come as a surprise that despite the platform’s state, new Ethereum-based projects are still springing up. They include Ethereum-DApps prototypes Pokereum, a decentralized poker, and Dappsery, a Blockchain advertising marketplace which is both EVM neutral for deployment on any smart contract Blockchain including Ethereum, Ethereum Classic and Rootstock.
There is also Chainy, an independent Ethereum-based smart contract DApp that could be used to engrave data, such as information critical to businesses or personal messages to loved ones, on the Blockchain for eternity. In addition, there is Status which enables seamless interaction with the emerging ecosystem of DApps.
These new initiatives give another ray of hope in addition to the milestones to be achieved in the coming year giving a good feeling about the second placed digital currency in terms of market cap. However, it cannot be rightly said at this point that we can still see a pre-DAO hack Ethereum.