Though Bitcoin has garnered significant mainstream media attention over the past few months, Ethereum might become the cryptocurrency at the top of the heap in 2018.
CryptoDaily predicts that Ethereum’s value could exceed Bitcoin’s as early as 2018. The moment when a non-Bitcoin cryptocurrency surpasses Bitcoin’s value is popularly known in cryptocurrency circles as “The Flippening,” an event so anticipated that Flippening Watch is devoted purely to tracking its progress.
Ethereum has already experienced a higher number of transactions over 24 hours, higher 24-hour mining rewards, and a greater number of nodes. While its market cap, overall trading volume, and Google Trends measurements still lag behind Bitcoin, it seems clear that Ethereum is still on the rise.
Why is Ethereum approaching Bitcoin, which is often thought of in the popular imagination as the end-all and be-all of cryptocurrency? Ironically, Bitcoin’s popularity might be contributing to its demise: as more and more people start using it outside of the cryptocurrency community, transaction fees get higher (hitting an average of $28 in late 2017) and transaction times get longer. Higher usage is throwing Bitcoin’s scalability issues into sharp relief.
Launched in 2015, Ethereum is a blockchain-based platform that enables the construction of complex Smart Contracts and Distributed Applications (DApps). The platform runs on Ether tokens, which are both exchanged publicly like other cryptocurrencies and used inside the platform to build applications. Though Ethereum is technically a platform, not a cryptocurrency, inside its own ecosystem, the term has become a common signifier of the cryptocurrency in public exchanges. Ultimately, Bitcoin and Ethereum (or Ether tokens) were constructed for different purposes: one was meant to replace paper currency, while another was designed largely as fuel (or “gas”) for an application-building platform.
Bitcoin, obviously, is facing the question of scalability as increased usage drives longer and more expensive transactions. But Ethereum is also starting to face its own scalability issues. Its developers have proposed solutions, such as sharding or off-chain transactions, but because Ethereum is tied to a complex application ecosystem, scaling it is in some ways much more complicated than it is for Bitcoin.
Next Big Thing (or NBT) is an IoT and blockchain-based company incubator. NBT hosts entrepreneurs-in-residence who work out of their Berlin headquarters for three months to bring a viable business idea from a mere concept to a fully ready-to-launch business. Entrepreneurs have access to workspace, mentorship, and an enormous range of expertise, from technical to legal to prior hands-on business-launching experience. This ecosystem ensures that the lengthy process of developing a business, which often takes years, can be accomplished in only three months. NBT also assists with seed and first-round funding, as well as providing ongoing fundraising guidance.
Appropriately enough for an Internet of Things-based institution, NBT is the linchpin in an incredible network of innovation across Europe and beyond. NBT is recognized as a central Berlin hub in de:hub, Germany’s national digital hub initiative. Because their clients, partners, and entrepreneurs benefit from a broad range of perspectives and expertise, they can help new companies tackle pressing technical issues.
Weeve is one of NBT’s many success stories. This company, founded by NBT participants Harald Zapp and Sebastian Gajek, was founded in recognition that the exploding number of networked devices across the globe have and will generate enormous amounts of valuable data. A networked car driving over a pothole, for example, captures the location of degraded roads, and buying that info might be substantially cheaper for road crews than trying to find potholes on their own. But the growth of IoT has also brought legitimate security and privacy concerns. If data is going to be transmitted, bought, and sold, then the people who generate that data need to know it’s happening securely.
Weeve is developing a blockchain-based solution to the problem of secure, private data transmission inside the Internet of Things. The Weeve platform relies on a Trusted Execution Environment to provide security guarantees. Perhaps most significantly, Weeve’s platform incorporates a newly designed TEE-MQTTS protocol that allows speedy, highly scalable processing. This means that the massive amount of data generated by IoT devices can actually be processed in blockchain form through the Weeve platform.
Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin have had their day in the mainstream news for their dramatic price fluctuations, but companies such as Weeve and NBT recognize that beyond financial headlines are incredibly transformative applications for blockchain technology. The Internet of Things is predicted to contain about 75 billion devices by 2025, generating an enormous amount of data that could help us run a better, more efficient society – if we can effectively and securely transmit such a huge volume. Companies such as Weeve are showing that blockchain can be transformed and used to tackle data needs such as IoT transactions.