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Cryptocurrency in Focus: Ethereum Aims for 'Serenity'

Ethereum has seen its ratings and price decline over the last two months, but its goal of creating a more scalable blockchain shows great promise for long-term growth.

Leading cryptocurrency project Ethereum (ETH) - Get Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. Report garners a lot of attention in the industry, but this is a particularly interesting time for the asset as its ratings have declined over the last two months. Price has also dropped significantly.

As the prominent "smart contract platform" in the space, Ethereum boasts a market cap just over $20 billion at the time of this writing. Ether, ETH, is the native currency and lifeblood of the platform, used as "gas" to pay for network transactions.

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Nearing 'Serenity'

The Ethereum blockchain -- or database containing transaction information -- currently processes transactions in a similar way to Bitcoin. However, massive development efforts are underway on Ethereum 2.0, also known as "Serenity," to produce a new type of blockchain capable of greater scale. The need for scalability is key as the number of transactions, and subsequent gas prices, continue to rise on the platform.

This summer, Ethereum ratings have been in decline. Its FCAS (Fundamental Crypto Asset Score) slid 2.43% over the last two months, driven by a 50-point (-5.27%) drop in User Activity. Developer Behavior also fell 1-point (-0.1%), and Market Maturity slipped 18-points (-2.27%). Price is down 41.41% over the same time period.

From a high-level, Ethereum's slump in User Activity is potentially tied to several trends impacted by scalability concerns. First, existing projects building on top of Ethereum are either launching their own types of blockchains or moving to other platform competitors with better scale and cheaper fees. Second, new projects are simply choosing to build elsewhere, and third, users are engaging with Ethereum's decentralized applications at a diminishing rate.

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Additionally, increasing competition for transaction processing and the high fees associated with these volumes have been a deterrent to adoption by large businesses, said Ethereum's founder, Vitalik Buterin, recently.

Still, Ethereum's overall User Activity rating is still very strong, ranking 11th overall.

Our Hot Take

Ethereum has a major head-start in what has been dubbed the "Platform Wars," where a number of emerging blockchain platforms are vying for supremacy and mass adoption in the industry. These new platforms have benefited from watching Ethereum take the early lead, creating offerings that focus on delivering both greater scalability and a higher level of compatibility with competitor assets and functionality.

While the Ethereum team's planned move to Ethereum 2.0 is ambitious, a number of projects in the industry are already working concurrently to solve its scalability issues. These projects are known as "Layer 2" solutions and come in a variety of forms.

In all, Buterin and team are highly capable of keeping the Ethereum ship on course to Serenity. The headwinds of scalability and declining use are surmountable challenges as the industry becomes increasingly focused on delivering real use cases through the applications it fosters.

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