Some people point out that the cryptoeconomy is still relatively small, so that even its biggest happenings are still just tempests in a teapot.
I disagree with this viewpoint, particularly where Ethereum is concerned. Why? Because if you look closely, Ethereum is already powering amazing, and in many cases unprecedented, solutions and services in the here and now.
The leading smart contract platform is a new kind of public infrastructure, and its ecosystem has come far enough along now that it seems, at least to me, all but inevitable that this infrastructure will be more widely adopted in the years ahead.
That’s because if Ethereum is so useful now, it should be that much more useful as time goes on. So to get a better sense of why Ethereum is already a game-changer in the world today, let’s survey the major stars in the platform’s metaphorical constellation.
Finance for Anyone
With an Ethereum address, anyone in the world can save, invest, borrow, lend, and transact with anyone around the globe that also has an Ethereum address.
The best part of this dynamic? All these activities are powered by a decentralized blockchain rather than by a centralized company that has its own whims and regulatory pressures. PayPal may shutter your account for this or that reason, but Ethereum can’t.
Accordingly, Ethereum offers an increasingly globalized world a powerful alternative financial system that has self-sovereignty at its heart.
Centralized crypto exchanges enforce KYC and control your funds. Decentralized exchanges do neither of these things, which is big reason that Ethereum’s DEX scene has exploded so far in 2020.
It’s empowering to be able to trade permissionlessly and around the clock, and recent growth in the DEX sector proves that. Take the case of Uniswap, the Ethereum community’s darling DEX. Uniswap creator Hayden Adams said this month that Uniswap’s volume stands to be higher in June 2020 than it was in all of 2019.
A bit lost in the noise, decentralized trading is *exploding* right now
@UniswapProtocol volume alone is on track for ~$400M this month, more than all of 2019 combined
Moreover, Ethereum’s DEXes are all the while becoming more efficient and cheaper, to the point that they are now coming to rival their centralized exchange counterparts.
Digital cooperatives stand to gain a lot more traction going forward thanks to rise of a teeming scene of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) atop Ethereum over the last year and a half.
There are DAOs for community coordination (MolochDAO, MetaCartel), for venture investing (The LAO, MetaCartel Ventures), esports (MetaClan), professional services (Raid Guild), and much more.
These groups are early trailblazers that are showing new types of group coordination are possible thanks to Ethereum.
Cheap International Payments
The traditional financial world has no shortage of mainstream payments rails. But these rails are centralized, regional, and prone to middleman fees all along the way.
The result, then, is that traditional payments can be quite expensive. If you want to send a few thousand dollars through PayPal, the payments giant is going to eat up a non-trivial portion of the sum with a transfer fee.
Contrast this with Ethereum, which can power a $5 payment or a $5 billion payment anywhere in the world for just a few cents. And as Ethereum’s ecosystem advances technologically, it’ll only become cheaper to transact through the platform, too.
Open-Source Funding Innovations
Funding open-source efforts was a problem before Ethereum ever existed. But the platform has given rise to pioneering efforts, like Gitcoin Grants, that could change the way the world looks at open-source funding in the years ahead.
For instance, Gitcoin Grants relies on quadratic funding, a donation mechanism that helps to match donated funds in a democratic manner. The decentralized service has been a big hit when it comes to allowing Ethereum projects to get more funding, and it’ll surely continue to rise in popularity.
Social Money Made Easy
Ethereum makes tokenizing anything easy. This reality has given rise to “social money,” where individuals and creators can launch personal tokens that give them ways to monetize content like never before. It also gives fans a way to become involved stakeholders in people of interest.
In this field, Roll — the “new standard in social money” — is an early innovator. They’ve made social money easy to embrace this early on, so expect more folks to come around to the sector as the cryptoeconomy continues to grow.
Collectibles can now be programmable thanks to Ethereum, and this possibility has led to a blooming digital collectibles ecosystem on the smart contract platform. Where collectibles were once illiquid, they’re now made liquid on Ethereum.
These collectibles, or NFTs for non-fungible tokens, appeared on Ethereum through the likes of CryptoPunks and CryptoKitties in 2017.
Years later, and there are dozens of “nifties” projects whose collectibles will live on the Ethereum blockchain forever, all while being provably scarce and theft-resistant. A new era of digital collecting seemingly lies ahead, then.
VR Real Estate Markets
Ethereum is also home to multiple notable virtual reality worlds, like Cryptovoxels, Decentraland, The Sandbox, and more. These community hubs are growing fast, too.
What’s great is that these worlds are already being used to host VR events, showcase artists’ NFTs, exhibit games, and beyond, and all this potential has Ethereum’s VR real estate market booming lately. Builders and flippers have a new way to enterprise accordingly.
Automated Artist Royalties
Ethereum’s rising digital art marketplaces have been early gems for the platform, and one amazing thing they offer — and that Ethereum offers generally — is automated royalty payments to artists for secondary sales.
Why’s this big? Because there’s no analogue in the traditional art world, where artists typically never receive royalties for secondary sales at all and gallery payments can take weeks.
On Ethereum, every time an artist’s NFT is sold, a smart contract can automatically send the creator a portion of the sale. With a 10% royalty in place, an artist would receive 0.1 ETH for a secondary sale of 1 ETH, for example. This is a huge perk for creators, and I expect it become very popular in the future.
Play to Earn Gaming
Ethereum is already great now because it’s also proving that games can give their users new revenue streams.
Specifically, a play-to-earn movement has arisen on Ethereum in recent months, and it’s all about rewarding and empowering players. There’s Axie Infinity, where you can grind through battles to earn Small Love Potion (SLP) tokens that can be sold, or the trading card game Gods Unchained, where you can sell gained cards for a profit.
Capital of Cutting-Edge Blockchain Tech
Another major reason not to sleep on Ethereum over the next decade? It’s currently home to the most next-gen solutions in the entire blockchain arena.
For instance, the ecosystem’s oracle tech scene (Chainlink, Augur, Maker) is currently most teeming atop Ethereum. There are more promising layer-two scaling solutions (Fuel, Loopring, StarkEx) building on Ethereum than anywhere else. And Ethereum’s base layer will eventually get an advanced upgrade to its scaling powers, too, once the platform embraces sharding in Ethereum 2.0.
Ethereum is on the verge of turning 5 years old, and things are only just beginning to get extremely interesting for the platform. If this is how far the project can come in half a decade, imagine what it will look like 2 decades from now?
A lot can happen between now and then, and Ethereum still faces no shortage of challenges across the board. But it’s unquestionable that there’s plenty of reasons to be excited about Ethereum now and where it’s going.