News ID: 231730
Published: 0340 GMT September 24, 2018

Ether cryptocurrency, a victim of blockchain success

Ether cryptocurrency, a victim of blockchain success
AFP

For all the attention afforded bitcoin, it is its rival ether that is hitting the headlines, with the popularity of its blockchain technology Ethereum driving concerns that have sent investors fleeing.

Virtual currencies have struggled across the board this month after US investment banking giant Goldman Sachs pulled back from its plans to open a trading desk for bitcoin, damaging sentiment for the entire sector, according to AFP.

Ether has slid 20 percent in value, taking a further hit from comments made by Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, which powers the cryptocurrency.

Earlier this month, the 24-year-old Russian-Canadian programmer told Bloomberg that “the (Ethereum) blockchain space is getting to the point where there’s a ceiling in sight.”

A blockchain is essentially a ledger for recording transactions, which is both open to all who use it but extremely secure, and has enabled the rise of cryptocurrency trading.

A multimillionaire thanks to Ethereum, Buterin has previously spoken about ‘scalability’ probably being the number one challenge facing the sector.

Unlike bitcoin’s blockchain, which carries out transactions involving only the cryptocurrency, Ethereum can host different virtual tokens and also enable certain digital applications and so-called smart contracts.

Such programs can for example automatically trigger payments without the use of a third party when pre-defined conditions are met, such as winning a sports bet.

Ethereum is also home to two-thirds of initial coin offerings (ICOs), essentially a fundraising tool for companies which issue the tokens against cryptocurrencies much like issuing shares on a stock market.

An explosion in the number of ICOs in 2017, two years after ether’s launch, resulted in the cryptocurrency’s price rocketing 160 times in value over a 12-month period.

The craze surrounding ICOs has also caused congestion to Ethereum’s network, contributing to ether’s price collapse beginning in January.

“The more it’s demanded, the more likely you are to clog the network,” said Jerome de Tychey, president of Asseth, an association promoting the use of Ethereum.

A clogged Ethereum results in higher charges for clients wanting their transactions prioritized — and average fees briefly hit a record $5.50 in July according to bitinfocharts.com. Generally, though, fees fluctuate around a few cents.

Delays to a planned overhaul of Ethereum’s scalability have meanwhile likely discouraged some investors from using the blockchain, according to de Tychey.

   
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