Buterin’s Bottleneck: Ethereum Co-founder Talks Scalability


Even as Bitcoin’s price manages to rise from the dead, and enterprise blockchain usage picks up more adoption; there remains one thorny issue that just won’t go away. Blockchain scalability is an ongoing issue in the ecosystem with Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin saying the Ethereum blockchain is almost full.

The ironic thing is, as blockchain and cryptocurrencies have become more popular, they have slowed down and become less effective and appealing. It took a game of CryptoKitties to really show Ethereum what happens when people love the product too much. 

For big enterprises and organizations who want to hop aboard the blockchain bandwagon, and especially in the case of the original smart contract chain Ethereum, there is a bottleneck that is getting in the way.

In an article with Canada’s largest online news site, The Star, Buterin spoke candidly about the capacity of the Ethereum blockchain and how it could be affecting widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies. 

“Scalability is a big bottleneck because the Ethereum blockchain is almost full. If you’re a bigger organization, the calculus is that if we join, it will not only be more full but we will be competing with everyone for transaction space. It’s already expensive and it will be even five times more expensive because of us. There is pressure keeping people from joining,” he admitted

Buterin was not there to naysay, however, and did offer up solutions. His suggestion being a move away from asking every computer on the network to verify each and every transaction. Initially, on a smaller network, this worked well, but a shift needs to happen.

Thus, Leaving computers, on average, to verify only a small portion of the transactions on the blockchain will have its benefits in terms of costs, but security will take a hit. Still, Buterin thinks the compromise in security would be mild. 

Ethereum is in the process of a significant upgrade at the moment with the blockchain set to utilize proof-of-stake after the Istanbul hard fork in the coming months. This was always part of the overall plan for Ethereum, but it remains to be seen if this drastic upgrade will offer the type of performance that will lead to more significant adoption. 

In fact, there will need to be more than just better scalability for real mass adoption, according to Buterin, who also points towards usability, improvements in security and privacy, and the need to simply getting people to use the tech that is on hand. 

Darryn Pollock
Darryn has been interested in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space since he heard about Bitcoin in 2015. He then decided to use his journalism degree to report on this fascinating fintech space in 2016, and has not looked back since.

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