Bar none, the most successful ICO to be developed by Canadian talent is that of Ethereum (ETH). Sitting at #2 in marketcap, ETH is a powerhouse within the blockchain industry. ETH is the brain child of the well-known Vitalik Buterin. Buterin is a Russian/Canadian that went to University just outside of Toronto. He was joined by other Canadians, such as Joseph Lubin (who went on to develop ConsenSys), throughout the development process of ETH. The team has fully capitalized on their first to market advantage for decentralized platforms. Differing from Bitcoin (BTC), in that it functions not only as a currency, but a platform for building decentralized applications (dApps) on top of they are competitors nonetheless.
Of the >1500 various projects listed on CoinMarketCap, the vast majority are known as utility tokens. These utility tokens have predominantly been built on top of the ETH blockchain. They are known as ERC-20 compliant tokens. This is simply a set of rules that must be followed to ensure seamless interoperability within the ETH ecosystem. Essentially, these ERC-20 tokens are unique smart contracts, which function in a desired manner specific to the issuing company. This benefits ETH greatly, as not only do people trade ETH’s native currency ‘Ether’, but each and every transaction involving an ERC-20 token requires ‘GAS’. GAS is simply Ether being used as a form of payment or ‘fuel’ given to the miners doing the leg work of verifying transactions on the network. This design has proven to be quite lucrative for the ETH network, giving them a marketcap of $70 billion at the time of writing (triple the next largest coin at the time).
In addition to huge levels of adoption within the blockchain industry, ETH has begun to see adoption from none other than the Canadian Government itself. Near the end of January, 2018, it was announced that in an effort to enhance transparency of government funding, ETH was going to be utilized. The government decided to utilize a blockchain initiative from a second Canadian company (Catena Blockchain Suite), functioning as a smart contract on the ETH network. This would allow them to publish government spending in real-time. This gives an unprecedented level of transparency in spending, for the public to view on a whim.
Despite these accolades, the developers at Canada’s most successful blockchain platform are not sitting still. There are many competitors rising, looking to dethrone ETH as the de facto king of platforms. Many have fantastic ideas and show promise, but most do not yet have working products. The ETH developers recognize this, and to maintain their dominance within the industry must release further updates to the platform; improving speed, cost, functionality, and versatility.
With Proof-of-work protocols becoming increasingly power intensive, and resulting in coins becoming more centralized due to the advent of ASIC miners, ETH has promised a transition to a Proof-of-Stake protocol. They have just released the first major step towards achieving this. This is the first version, with the final expected in late 2018, which will result in a hard fork at that time. Dubbed ‘Casper’, the update is a hybrid between POW & POS. While this helps with energy costs, and maintaining decentralization, an increase in transaction capacity is needed as well. If ETH is to function as a currency, it needs to be able to be quicker than current industry standards. The planned solution for this is in the works, and it is referred to as ‘Sharding’. When released, this will essentially create a distributed registry. Meaning that the network will be split into multiple chains, with each performing specific tasks, communicating with one another and the main chain – sharing the workload, and increasing capacity greatly.
These upgrades are the result of three years’ worth of development. They are what is going to allow this platform to maintain its foothold in the top spot for blockchain platforms in the foreseeable future. While there might be greater potential from competitors when compared to the current iteration of ETH, the future remains bright for this platform brought to you from Canadians, and used by Canadians. There are sure to be many other successful ICOs to come from the Great White North, but ETH has given the some pretty big shoes to be filled.