Ethereum 2.0 developers released the technical specifications for the latest and perhaps the last Phase 0 multi-client testnet on Wednesday. This testnet, codenamed Medalla, will be the fourth such network launched by Afri Schoeden and crew, following the likes of the late Schlesi and Witti as well as the currently operational Altona testnet. The Ethereum Foundation team intends for Medalla to be the first one that will be community maintained, as compared to the developer-centric nature of its recent ancestors.
Medalla could go live by Aug. 4 (“minimum genesis time”). The actual launch sequence won’t commence until 48 hours after a minimum deposit of 524,288 ETH, representing 16,384 validators (32 ETH per validator slot), has been met. Users equipped with Goerli testnet ETH will soon be able to claim Medalla validator slots through an early version of “Launchpad,” which will eventually serve as an interface for ETH 2.0 deposits. Medalla should have at least four clients running at genesis: Lighthouse, Nimbus, Prysm, and Teku. A fifth client, Lodestar, could make its inaugural testnet appearance at a later stage.
While in theory, the chain could be up as soon as Aug. 4, Quantstamp CEO Richard Ma has given a more conservative estimate of early September. In contrast, Fork Coordinator Afri Schoeden believes an August testnet launch will occur and allow for the ETH 2.0 launch sometime in November.
On a similar development front, three “attacknets” were launched this past week, one each for the Lighthouse, Prysm, and Teku clients. These attacknets will incentivize participation from whitehat hackers through bounties for bugs discovered and other attacks that are capable of disrupting the finality of the chain.
The Ethereum Foundation held its fourth Reddit AMA on Ethereum 2.0 today, and the top question on everyone’s mind was (unsurprisingly) “when Phase 0?”
The responses from various EF contributors were mixed. Researcher Justin Drake said a practical release date for Ethereum 2.0’s Beacon Chain would be early Jan. 2021, given the work required to coordinate multiple production-ready clients. While pivoting to a single-client approach could speed up development, Justin warns it would result in an over-reliance on a single implementation since the first-mover advantage among clients is strong.
But fellow researcher Danny Ryan and Vitalik Buterin were adamant that Phase 0 would (and perhaps, should) arrive before the end of 2020. Vitalik defended his stance by saying that the Beacon Chain won’t have “any critical applications depending on it until Phase 1,” which lowers the practical risks of launching earlier. Therefore (in Evan Van Ness’ words) there’s no reason to run these testnets for months and months. A few production-ready clients might be more than sufficient at launch.
The actual launch date will depend on the success of Phase 0’s multi-client testnets. The Altona testnet, which launched last week with four clients onboard (Lighthouse, Nimbus, Prysm, and Teku), will be the penultimate public testnet stage. The final round of testnets could launch next month, and the EF team would like to see each chain run smoothly for 2-3 months before moving onto Phase 0’s genesis. If all goes well, a Q4 launch date for the Beacon Chain is not out of the question.
But as one Vyper developer puts it, “tech engineering and schedules go together like oil and water.” Testing and debugging take time, especially when dealing with a highly complex and unprecedented migration that places billions of user funds at stake. The pent up demand for Phase 0 was palpable in the AMA. However, it might be unwise to rush the process no matter how close developers are to the finish line. In the words of Vitalik: “doing better now will indeed pay off for decades.”
Why it matters:
While prospective stakers and Ethereum enthusiasts might hate to see a longer development timeline, Justin’s comments shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. In April, Afri Schoedon, one of the developers behind the ETH 2.0 testnets, said 2021 is a more reasonable timeline for Phase 0. But it’s hard to ignore that potentially pushing back the launch date embraced by the public has resulted in some bad Twitter optics.
Any further Ethereum 2.0 delays coupled with Ethereum 1.0’s current fee woes should breathe some life back into the Ethereum Killer narrative, which recently lost some ground to the DeFi frenzy. Tom Shaugnessy put it best when he said, “the time between now and viable layer 2s on Ethereum is the window for a programmable competitor to gain market share.”
A little over a month ago, Ethereum daily transaction fees surpassed those of Bitcoin. While it wasn’t the first time, this fee “flippening” appeared more utility-driven and sustainable as Ethereum-based volumes for stablecoin transfers and decentralized exchanges were on the rise.
This indication turned out to be correct. DeFi activity has exploded, partly driven by the fervor around “liquidity mining” and recent application upgrades (Uniswap v2, Kyber Katalyst). In response, total daily fees on Ethereum have remained above Bitcoin’s for over a month, the longest such period in its five-year existence.
Click here to see the interactive chart
Onlookers should caveat this increase in daily fees paid with the fact Ethereum miners upped the gas limit in late June, thereby raising the ceiling on potential fee-bearing transactions allowed per block. More transactions processed each day should inevitably lead to a larger fee total. But the consistent uptrend is a clear sign that the demand for Ethereum block space is not slowing down.
Why it matters:
Transaction fees aren’t only an indicator of on-chain activity; they also contribute to a blockchain’s security budget. As Ethereum transitions to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) network, it will need to keep miners happy and their pockets full until the new chain is ready. In the meantime, a bump in revenue from increasing transaction fees should help keep miners engaged.
It’s not all roses at the moment. Rising costs per transaction can pose a UX problem and ward off new users. All eyes will be on the adoption of recently launched Layer-2 scaling solutions like OMG Network, Matic Network, and the various rollup iterations to alleviate an increase in fee price. OMG Network has already partnered with Tether, a notorious Ethereum gas guzzler, and Loopring’s new offerings and DeversiFi (using Stakware’s latest software) are showing some early promise.
Uniswap V2, the second version of the popular decentralized exchange, recently surpassed the original version (Uniswap V1) in terms of liquidity. The recent issuance of Compound’s new Comp token resulted in a subsequent pairing (COMP/ETH) on UniswapV2 that enabled Uniswap V2 to obtain more liquidity.
Why it matters:
With the release of Uniswap V2, the Uniswap team decided to let users choose which protocol (V1 or V2) that they wished to exchange with. Liquidity has the ability to entrench users which consequently had the potential to slow Uniswap V2’s adoption. While Uniswap V2 provides more features, Uniswap V1 has maintained better liquidity up until today. Now that Uniswap V2 has more liquidity, there’s a clear incentive to use the new and improved version.
Uniswap proved they could effectively migrate liquidity form the old version to the updated platform. Importantly, Uniswap V2 comes with a built-in fee mechanism that if enabled will allow the venture-backed team to collect revenues from the decentralized exchange.
We’re excited to announce that OMG Network (originally established under the brand name OmiseGo) has joined the Messari Disclosures Registry. As a participating project, OMG Network has committed to transparency by providing regular project disclosures and updates.
OMG Network is a Layer-2 scaling protocol for Ethereum that aims to achieve higher transaction throughput at lower costs while leveraging the security guarantees of Ethereum. OMG Network is predicated on the creation of a child chain that batches transactions before committing them to Ethereum. The child chain relies on the root chain as the trust and arbitration layer. With this type of relationship, if something goes wrong with the child chain, users’ funds should remain safe. The protocol’s token, OMG, is the primary method by which users can pay for transaction fees and interact with the network.
OMG Network just launched its V1 Mainnet Beta, which aims to eventually scale Ethereum to thousands of transactions per second while simultaneously reducing transaction fees by one-third. Additionally, they’ve also launched a demo mobile wallet and a blockchain explorer that lets users search for transaction histories and wallet addresses on the OMG network.
Learn all about OMG Network’s history, roadmap, team, token, launch, technology, security and governance on their Messari asset profile page. You can also learn more about OMG Network at https://omg.network/.
Look for an update from the OMG Network team during our “Proof-of-work” session at Mainnet by Messari – get your tickets today for the ultimate virtual event!
The discussion around cryptocurrencies’ potential to become non-sovereign stores of value is often contained to just Bitcoin. This is unsurprising as Bitcoin is the most mature cryptocurrency and the one most explicitly aimed at the non-sovereign store of value use case. Bitcoin’s “Digital Gold” moniker is a great marketing tool in this regard. No other cryptocurrency has an equally clear and compelling tagline.
However, Bitcoin is not the only cryptocurrency competing for the store of value use case, and it is not impervious to competition. Other cryptocurrencies are in the running as well.
Of all the cryptocurrencies aiming for the non-sovereign store of value use case, Ethereum is by far the second leading candidate in the race. The Ethereum blockchain is the only other public blockchain with meaningful use today, and its native asset Ether (ETH) is the second largest cryptocurrency – the best measure of adoption as a potential store of value.
The points above are enough to prompt the question, “what if Ether becomes digital gold?”
At current prices, the potential ROI for ETH if it were to become a non-sovereign store of value like gold, could be more than 490x.
This sounds like a crazy proposition for an asset currently worth $22 billion, but not out of the realm of possibility when you remember that ETH is not a start-up company, it’s a start-up monetary asset. Remember, Bitcoin is not impervious to competition, and if you believe Bitcoin has a shot at becoming a non-sovereign store of value like gold then many other cryptocurrencies must have a shot too, albeit less probable. Whether those other bets deserve an allocation is dependent on one’s own assessment of the risk / reward.
ConsenSys has acquired the team and technology of its joint venture partner Fluidity, a Brooklyn-based blockchain technology firm. Fluidity is the primary developer behind AirSwap and has launched products for real-estate tokenization, tokenized securities trading, systems to pledge real collateral to decentralized credit platforms, and has hosted the Fluidity Summit.
According to a press release, the acquisition will allow Fluidity to continue building AirSwap with the support of the business development, engineering, and marketing teams at ConsenSys. The Fluidity team and related products will transition to ConsenSys, and Fluidity’s technology will be used by ConsenSys Codefi, a business-focused blockchain project announced late last year.
AirSwap was founded as a joint venture between ConsenSys and Fluidity in 2017. “Bringing Fluidity fully into ConsenSys will unlock powerful synergies that we have identified over the past few months. The team has built best in class token trading technology for different niches that ConsenSys can now help bring forth at scale. We are excited to reinvigorate the longstanding close relationship,” said ConsenSys Joseph Lubin.
In recent months ConsenSys has focused its product offerings on enterprise and business-related blockchain offerings built on Ethereum where Fluidity’s expertise in decentralized financial products will likely help bolster ConsenSys’s core offerings. “The future is bright for decentralized trading, blockchain technology, and upgrading legacy financial infrastructure. Together with ConsenSys, the power of our systems can be fully realized,” said Michael Oved, CEO and Co-Founder of Fluidity.
The promise of bringing bitcoin onto Ethereum has taken a step back as tBTC, a token with a 1:1 backing with bitcoin has stopped taking deposits. The contract will pause deposits for 10 days to allow developers time to notify users of what happened and allow them to withdraw funds. A full-post mortem will be provided in the coming days to further explain what happened.
Why it matters
Efforts to bring bitcoin to Ethereum have ramped up significantly this year, led by WBTC, an ERC20 backed by bitcoin held by BitGo. Recently the token which now has over $22 million of btc locked, was added as a collateral type in Maker allowing loans to be drawn against it. This system is effective in bringing bitcoin into the composable Ethereum ecosystem, however, it compromises on the trust minimized nature of DeFi. This is where tBTC was intended to provide a more decentralized alternative, a feat that is clearly more difficult than it appears.
User funds appear to be safe so long as they are withdrawn in this 10 day period but this serves as yet another wake-up call that DeFi should used with extreme caution as it is still highly experimental.
Reddit, one of the most popular online forums knowns as the “front page of the internet”, will be trialing out a new Community Points system using tokens issued on Ethereum. According to the site:
Community Points are a way for Redditors to own a piece of their favorite communities. As a unit of ownership, Points capture some of the value of their community. They can be spent on premium features and are used as a measure of reputation in the community.
The tokens $MOONS and $BRICKS, which will start on the Rinkeby testnet, will be issued to the /r/Cryptocurrency and /r/FortniteBR subreddits. After a beta period, they will be migrated over to the mainnet
Why it matters
The Fortnight and cryptocurrency subreddits have over two million users that will be trialing this new points system. If it proves to be successful, this new feature could make its way towards the rest of Reddit’s 400 million users.
A user post last month outlined much of what this system could look like and the unique features of an ERC-20 token compared to existing Karma points offer new means of interaction within the Reddit community.
In a recent blog post, researcher Danny Ryan confirmed the first Ethereum 2.0 multi-client testnet launched last month in an effort led by fellow developer Afri Schoedon. The testnet, dubbed Schlesi, aims to evaluate how different client implantations interact using an early iteration (specifically, the v0.11 spec) of the Beacon Chain, which will serve as the backbone of ETH 2.0.
Schlesi launched with support from the Prysmatic Labs and Sigma Prime development teams, who have synced their respective ETH 2.0 clients (Prysm and Lighthouse) and “are actively validating the network.” In more recent news, a third implementation, PegaSys’ Teku client, has joined the testnet as of May 6. The Nimbus team, backed by Status, also indicated its client synced with Schlesi back on Apr. 30. However, Nimbus later revealed that they “are ironing out the final compatibility issues to fully join this network.”
The Ethereum Foundation intends to run an “official” multi-client testnet eventually. While Schlesi is one of a few pre-mainnet versions of the Beacon Chain in operation, Danny said it “might very well turn into the multi-client testnet in a couple of iterations.” CoinDesk reports that Ethereum devs could aim to run this more advanced testnet for at least a couple of months and have it withstand public use before turning towards a possible mainnet launch.
Why it matters:
Progress is always promising, but one can’t help but ask what the schedule for the ETH 2.0 launch is? Estimates are somewhat scattered at the moment, with some developers saying it could arrive as early as Q3 2020, while others believe 2021 is a more reasonable timeline given the amount of work remaining. But the extended development roadmap shouldn’t be a surprise. The ETH 2.0 migration is breaking new ground and attempting some highly complex technical feats. With the funds at stake, it makes sense developers are taking the time to test their novel designs and clients thoroughly.
ETH holders and prospective stakers should understand that when ETH 2.0 does eventually go live, it will have limited functionality. Evan Van Ness likens the expected ETH 2.0 launch to that of the existing network. When Ethereum launched in 2015, “you literally couldn’t do anything but mine. There were bugs and emergency fixes.” Likewise, the first live iteration of ETH 2.0 might only allow staking (and experience a few hiccups) before developers gradually unlock more capabilities.
Yesterday, Matt Luongo, the CEO of Thesis, the parent company behind the Keep Network, announced the launch of Keep’s token and staking contracts. Pre-launch investors can now claim their KEEP tokens and begin to transition from staking Keep’s testnet to the newly released mainnet. Matt also said custodians Coinbase Custody and Anchorage “will begin their next phase of diligence” for supporting KEEP staking.
The Keep Network aims to provide privacy options for Ethereum applications through the use of its built-in random beacon, which prevents network stakers (called signers) from colluding to steal user funds. The team plans to roll out the random beacon on May 4, also unlocking the ability to start earning KEEP staking rewards. Keep will then launch the long-awaiting tBTC project, an Ethereum-compatible Bitcoin-backed token created in collaboration with Summa, the following week (May 11).
Why it matters:
KEEP staking and tokens are only available to pre-launch investors at the moment. But the project plans to run what it calls a “stakedrop” in June, which will allow anyone to earn KEEP tokens by bonding ETH and contributing to the network. Keep has earmarked 18% of its total token supply to this event.
tBTC has the goal of increasing the use of BTC within Ethereum’s DeFi sector. There are existing Ethereum-based Bitcoin tokens, such as wBTC (wrapped Bitcoin) and imBTC. But unlike its competitors, Keep avoids relying on a single custodian to facilitate the BTC to tBTC exchange and manage the collateral funds. On a related note, the MakerDAO community agreed to create an ETH/BTC price feed (that will power the BTC to tBTC exchange) and to “whitelist the future tBTC contract.” As Matt Luongo points out, this decision could suggest the eventual inclusion of tBTC within MakerDAO’s multi collateral DAI system.
Coinbase announced a new Coinbase Price Oracle that enables anyone to use their API to get signed price data for BTC-USD and ETH-USD. The feed is sourced by Coinbase Pro and updates every minute. It also allows anyone to verify the authenticity of the data and publish themselves using the Coinbase Price Oracle public key.
Why it matters
Oracles are a mission-critical function within decentralized finance as they are used for lending, margin trading, liquidations, and more. And as we’ve seen with the second bZx hack, oracles can act as an attack vector for anyone looking to siphon funds from DeFi protocols. However, if more robust pricing inputs are available through services such as Coinbase Oracle, these types of attacks can be prevented
The oracle problem has been a difficult one to solve as there is a balance between trustworthiness and decentralization. You can publish price data from an exchange but are then trusting them to provide accurate data and keep the signing key safe, or alternatively, you can use a decentralized exchange but then are subject to manipulation. There are various also protocols that attempt to solve this issue, the most notable being Chainlink, which introduces a token to incentivize accurate feeds. If Coinbase’s Price Oracle is able to provide correct prices without the need to directly trust them then it could reduce the need for those cryptoeconomic oracle models.
Truffle, a popular suite of Ethereum developer tools, has announced support for Tezos. Developers can now construct, test, and deploy smart contracts onto the Tezos blockchain using Truffle’s flagship command-line tool. The former ConsenSys spoke said this current integration is experimental, but it has plans to expand tooling for Tezos down the road. The Truffle team also noted that this is their first foray into supporting chains that do not feature the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), the smart contract execution engine popularized by Ethereum.
Why it matters:
Truffle’s tooling played a significant role in the rapid growth of Ethereum’s developer community and application ecosystem. According to the tool suite’s dashboard, developers have downloaded Truffle over 3.2 million times, the vast majority of which have come within the last two years. The arrival of Truffle could provide a substantial boost to development on Tezos outside of one-off security token sales.
Based on a recent forum post, smart contract development on Tezos still has some pain points. While specific issues may arise from the network’s design, there’s a chance enhanced tooling like the suite offered by Truffle could help circumvent these same complexities. The rate of Tezos development and adoption could hinge on overcoming these purported challenges.
Development team Prysmatic Labs plans to launch the last scheduled version of its Ethereum 2.0 testnet tomorrow (Apr. 18). Unlike the team’s previous iterations, the new Topaz Testnet will represent the full Ethereum 2.0 Phase 0 mainnet configuration and thus will require participating validators to deposit 32 testnet ETH on the Goerli network. Topaz will support just one client, Prysmatic Lab’s Prysm, at launch. But other clients will be free to join the network once they “update to the latest specification.”
Why it matters:
Topaz is not the official Ethereum 2.0 multi-client testnet, but it’s another step forward in the development process. Ethereum developers plan to follow up on these production quality testnets operated by client teams with a full-scale multi-client testnet version of the Beacon Chain. These devs hope to run this testnet for up to three months before green lighting the Phase 0 mainnet launch, which could arrive at some point this summer.
Prysmatic Labs is now on its third ETH 2.0 testnet iteration. After introducing a demo release of its Prysm client back in Oct. 2018, the team launched the Sapphire ETH 2.0 in May of last year. Sapphire has also supported multiple client implementations during its run, adding the Shasper client in Dec. 2019 and the Teku 2.0 client a few months ago.
Compound has announced its community governance system and associated COMP token are now live. The new model hands control of the protocol over to COMP holders, enabling them to propose and vote on governance actions such as adding support for new assets. At the moment, token holders include existing shareholders of Compound Labs and the protocol’s current founders and team members.
Coinbase Custody almost simultaneously announced its is launching support for Compound’s new governance system and COMP token. The voting solution will allow clients to use their COMP holdings to participate in governance decisions directly or by way of a third-party without having to move the tokens out of cold storage. Today’s announcement also stated the custodian would open deposits and withdrawals for all Compound c-Tokens, cETH, cZRX, cUSDC, cBAT, cDAI.
Why it matters:
The launch marks is a step forward for Compound in terms of decentralization, as the company removed itself from the decision-making process and handed these responsibilities over to a distributed set of token holders.
While the number of token holders consists of only current team members and company shareholders, Compound reserved over half of the supply for users of the protocol. The team is planning to release more details on the distribution model in the coming weeks.
Compound marks the second governance system support by Coinbase’s custody arm. The custodian launched a voting solution for Maker last fall (Oct. 2019). Aside from its flagship product, Coinbase now is a leading service provider for three of crypto’s most prominent activities: secure storage, staking, and governance.
According to a user post, Reddit is looking into implementing an ERC-20 token for Community Points that represent ownership of a subreddit. They will be distributed to users every four weeks based on a user’s contributions with comments and posts. Points can be used in a variety of ways depending on the subreddit but will include special membership and exclusive features such as badges, gifs, stickers. Once Points are used they are permanently burned, and if a user without Points wants to buy membership they can pay Reddit with dollars who will then burn tokens on their behalf.
Why it matters
Reddit is one of the most popular social media websites with over 400 million users. By introducing an ERC-20 token it will introduce this massive userbase to the Ethereum ecosystem, forcing them to learn about wallet management, making them more comfortable with public/private keys and recovery phrases. Even if a small percentage of these users begin to explore options other uses with their new wallet, it could bring a large influx of new users into other dApps on Etherum.
While somewhat similar to existing Karma, the new Point system will offer a new means of interaction with the platform. They are entirely owned by the users and can be freely traded which opens up a multitude of future uses that were otherwise not impossible.
In the weekly governance call, CEO of the Maker Foundation Rune Christensen presented the Self-Sustaining MakerDAO Initiative that would result in the dissolution of the Maker Foundation, the key entity leading development and governance of MakerDAO. As part of the new Governance Paradigm, Rune discussed three core pillars:
Elected Paid Contributors (EPCs) and Domain Teams
EPCs and Domain teams would effectively replace the various functional groups within the Foundation which has been funded through various token sales, but going forward will need to be paid through the protocol itself.
Maker Improvement Proposals (MIPs)
MIPs will look similar to other improvement frameworks and are designed to standardize the upgrade process from both a technical and social perspective.
Delegates will have the ability to vote on behalf of MKR holders who don’t wish to actively participate in the governance process allowing them to have a say in governance without needing to stay informed enough to make decisions on complicated matters.
Why it matters
Open Finance teams have often been criticized for operating under the guise of decentralization while in reality, a central entity maintains near full control. Dissolving the organization that has maintained substantial power of the protocol would be another major step towards the goal of fully decentralizing.
The Maker Foundation has operated like a traditional startup with legal, accounting, marketing departments, etc. all funded through money raised from venture capital. Once it’s dissolved, all of these functions will have to continue to serve their respective functions in a more decentralized manner which could create substantial operational hurdlers and couple prove to be unsustainable in the long run.
Today the Electric Coin Company released a blog detailing Heartwood, the next major Zcash network upgrade. Heartwood will improve interoperability through Flyclient support and give miners the option to immediately shield mining rewards in coinbase transactions.
Flyclient, known as ZIP 211, will enable interoperability efforts, cross-chain integration, and light-client use cases. The ZIP could pave the way for Zcash SPV proofs to be verified in blockchains such as Ethereum, enabling efficient cross-chain communication and pegs.
Shielded Coinbase, known as ZIP 213, will modify Zcash consensus rules to enable coinbase funds to be mined to shielded Sapling addresses. Prior to the Sapling upgrade, a shielded coinbase was not feasible because shielded transactions required significant memory and CPU resources to create.
The feature selection for this upgrade was determined in the community forum in June 2019, and the block height for Heartwood will be announced in Q2.
Why it matters:
With a regular upgrade schedule, Zcash not only aids it’s community’s preparedness for network upgrades, but also allows for continuous improvement of its nascent protocol.
With its next two upgrades called for, the Zcash community has roadmap clarity throughout 2020.