Ethereum isn’t exactly known for its scalability, despite the fact that it is the second most valuable cryptocurrency in circulation. In fact, during late-2017’s crypto boom, the blockchain was clogged by thousands of transactions pertaining to CryptoKitties, the blockchain collectible fad.
However, some of the project’s biggest proponents are optimistic about its future as a scalable, multi-faceted chain that can see adoption from all corners of the Earth.
Ethereum Co-Founders Await Scaling
Since Ethereum came to life in mid-2015, its core developers and co-founder have had lofty ambitions. Creator Vitalik Buterin and Co.’s plans have changed over the years, but alternative consensus mechanisms like Proof of Stake (PoS) and scaling solutions, such as the fabled Plasma and sharding protocols, have long been floated.
The developers’ goal is to integrate all these improvements in an upgrade known as Serenity.
But, the blockchain’s path to activate staking over its incumbent mining solution, a move claimed to reduce Ethereum’s energy requirements, improve decentralization, and bolster transactional throughput, hasn’t been entirely clear.
The hope was that by Q3 or Q4 of 2018 — yes, last year — PoS would have seen some semblance of integration on the main chain. As the cryptocurrency community now knows, this hasn’t come to fruition. In fact, the project’s timeline has seemingly been pushed by upwards of six months to a year.
Yet, some are still hopeful. In a recent interview with CoinTelegraph in New York, Joseph Lubin, a co-founder of Ethereum and the chief of development consortium ConsenSys, suggested that his go-to blockchain could be on orders of magnitudes faster in 24 months than it is now.
He suggested that Ethereum could become 1,000 “more scalable” within the next two years, looking to the aforementioned Serenity upgrade as a medium for this potential. This comment echoes that made by Buterin at Token2049, during which the Russian-Canadian coder explains that Serenity, which includes improvements to/the addition of Merkle Trees, the Virtual Machine, and sharding, will build a “next-generation blockchain” to be hundreds of times faster and scalable than Ethereum’s current iteration.
During his interview, Lubin continues:
“In a small number of months, we should have a fully operational testnet and possibly, by the end of this year we’ll have a fully operational phase 0 Ethereum 2.0.”
For those unaware, phase zero, also dubbed “Beacon Chain,” will allow for validators, rather than miners, stake Ether and vote on improvement proposals. This, if launched, will be an important step in leading Ethereum away from the traditional mining system.
Lubin’s comment isn’t baseless conjecture. As Blockonomi reported last week, developer Prysmatic Labs last week revealed that it had launched a testnet for Beacon Chain, following the footsteps of another startup, Status. The new testnet will allow for staking, confirming that good development is being made on this front.
Detractors Beg To Differ
Sure, Ethereum’s co-founders are optimistic that staking will go live within the coming months, but one notable industry analyst and chief executive is a tad skeptical. According to CoinTelegraph, during a panel headlined “The Smart Contract War Is Coming”, Ryan Selkis of Messari drew attention to the shortcomings of PoS.
He claimed that the consensus mechanism, which gets rid of energy-chomping miners for entitled full nodes that can process Ethereum blocks, is “not proven to work.” Selkis adds that Ethereum’s current Proof of Work (PoW) system may be “even good enough” for long-term scaling.
And thus, he added he doesn’t expect for “Proof-of-Stake and ethereum 2.0 to happen before the end of 2021 at the earliest.”
He isn’t the only detractor. Earlier this year, Tetras Capital’s Alex Sunnarborg suggested that the layoffs at ConsenSys seen in late-2018 and early-2019, the lack of users on decentralized applications such as Augur, and the overvaluation of Ethereum-based coins is a sign that the blockchain is losing steam.
He adds that the fact that Ethereum has lost some key development talent, like Afri Schoeden, is a sign that the community surrounding this project may be in turmoil, thus decreasing its future chance of success.