Throughout the year 2018, the price of Ethereum (ETH) slumped by more than 80%, and the coin ended the year on the third spot by market cap. The smart contract platform has run into its share of problems throughout the year, from the first release of Casper FFG to network congestions, and lastly, Co-founder Vitalik Buterin agreeing that Ethereum will collapse unless something drastically changes.
Throughout all this, the price continued to slump, down to a yearly low of around $85. Buterin himself said that he would start fading into the background as a necessary part of the growth of the community, this was quickly taken to mean that he is leaving the project for good – which he quickly denied.
While 2018 was a turbulent year for the project, will 2019 manage to bring in some reversal?
Will ICO regulations bring down Ethereum?
Ethereum owes most of its popularity to the fact that it can host initial coin offerings (ICOs), in that its blockchain can be used to make many different tokens for projects that need to raise money before they can develop their own blockchain. However, the increased scrutiny of the space, especially by authorities such as the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) could hinder Ethereum’s progress.
Raising funds for your project may evolve beyond needing strictly ETH, as it was before, Filipic believes. “There are plenty of ways today to run a compliant crypto crowdfunding campaign. Most of these avenues were also available in 2016 and 2017. Hence, I expect the success rate of ICO campaigns to converge with traditional ‘kickstarter’ campaigns over time. So it will be irrelevant whether the project accepts USD or ETH. It is going to be the project and not the currency used that determines success,” he explained.
This can also be done by leveraging newer protocols such as STOs.
Ethereum is still a “stable” project and even without the ICO craze, the project can still sustain.
“Greater clarity of regulation for cryptocurrencies, in particular ICOs, will help raise the bar for quality projects and, at the same time, make it easier for them to reach their funding goals. We expect a decline in the number of utility tokens offered to investors and a move transition to Security Token Offerings. These not only offer better protections for investors, but are better for token issuers as well. Fewer will want to shoehorn a currency into a business that has no need for it,” explains Juan M. Villaverde, leader of the Weiss Cryptocurrency Ratings team.
Dapps might be Ethereum’s answer
Although scalability is one big issue that has to be addressed before Ethereum-based dapps (decentralized applications) can gain widespread adoption, the possibilities behind them should not be underestimated. “Personally, I am really excited about seeing the emergence of the first usable dapps. As an entrepreneur in the emerging tech space, I’m excited to watch the evolving applications of AI technology and machine learning in consumer-grade products, and how those developments will alter or impact the user experience,” said Marshall Hayner, CEO of peer-to-peer payment application Metal Pay.
He goes on to add, “Moreover, in 2019 we’ll start to see disparate projects begin to fit together, creating fully integrated stacks for industry verticals built on Ethereum. Take FinTech: The digital asset safeguarding solutions offered by Trustology, real-time fiat payment solutions of Adhara, and financial reporting systems of Balanc3, could create an integrated stack, starting the path for interoperability between blockchain platforms and business networks. In verticals from FinTech to music to healthcare, the “Legos” will start “stacking” into place.”
The Constantinople hard fork
The first thing on Ethereum’s roadmap is the upcoming Constantinople hard fork, which was set to happen on January 16th, but was postponed. Following a dev meeting on January 18th, it was decided that the upgrade would roll out on February 27th, with a fix for the problematic EIP. The upgrade was going to include 5 different Ethereum improvement proposals (EIPs), but one of them was removed due to security concerns which caused the postponement in the first place. Each of the EIPs will include changes to Ethereum’s code that induce better processing times for developers, fairer pricing structures, important scaling solutions, and changes to Ethereum’s economic policy.
Constantinople is a backward-incompatible upgrade, which is why the Ethereum blockchain must undergo a hard fork. It is also a non-contentious hard fork, meaning that there is no debate over whether it should happen or not. Most notably, this hard fork reduces issuance of ETH by 33% from 3 ETH per block to 2 ETH per block, as well as a few other, more technical upgrades.
Of course, there’s also Casper and more in the lineup for 2019.