One coin to rule them all? Making sense of the Ethereum scaling debate.

Ethereum Scaling Debate

The Dream of Disrupting the Monopoly on Money

There are few industries where how people think about the future affects asset prices as heavily as in the world of blockchain. This means the theoretical battles about how things might play out can create or erase fortunes in a matter of minutes. It also means that there are major incentives to obscure or distort the truth, complicating matters even more.

At present, blockchains simply don’t scale, and scaling solutions are numerous and highly contentious, which is unsurprising given the potential value of a winning solution. It has become very clear that blockchains are disrupting industries with a combined value in the hundreds of trillions- by comparison, Amazon is disrupting a global retail industry estimated at $20-30 trillion. If one coin can come out on top, the profits would dwarf those of the internet revolution so far. If engineers can convince investors that they might have it, they can also secure some serious funding for their teams, creating a big incentive to claim to have the solution.

Billions of transactions per second!

In the case of Ethereum, discussion revolves around terms like layer 1, layer 2, sharding, Raiden, Casper, Plasma, state channels- the list goes on. The discussion of the merits and drawbacks of various approaches could fill volumes, but as of yet all of the proposed solutions remain purely theoretical and have yet to be deployed.

Layer 1 solutions are fundamental changes to the code- in this case, Ethereum’s source code. Most Layer 1 solutions (even theoretical ones) offer marginal benefit, like Bitcoin’s SegWit. “Layer 2 solutions” refers to improvements that are built on top of the source code. These are the solutions that are often touted as enabling millions of transactions per second, making the “world computer” envisioned by Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin a reality.

Reality Check- Interchain or Blocknet?

But here’s the thing- all of the epic scaling solutions that are supposed to make one chain into “the one,” boil down to the same thing- more blockchains. Ethereum “shards” are simply additional blockchains that are linked to the main chain.

There is a whole camp of blockchain developers betting on a different outcome. Teams like those of Cosmos and Blocknet are aiming to create the “internet of blockchains,” linking various chains together in the same way the early internet linked together various private and public networks. The key difference is that unlike the internet, the “interchain” as some have called it, would be a protocol for transferring scarce information- coins and tokens.

In other words, the blocknet would be more or less a decentralized exchange that looks a lot like a protocol- imagine if TCP/IP and the New York Stock Exchange had a baby. Ethereum’s team may have a good shot at being the ones who come up with this protocol, for the simple reason that Solidity is the most well known and widespread smart contract language. Ultimately, it is not the best technology that wins the day, but the one that people use.

Every day organizations around the world are working to develop new tech on the blockchain platform to solve problems and provide value to society. Icocrow strives to continue working with prominent organizations and drive awareness for upcoming ICO’s supporting innovative and promising technology. Need help finding targeted marketing opportunities? Reach out to the icocrow team at icocrow!

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