Three Transitions for Ethereum’s Survival
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin believes the success of Ethereum will come down to three major technical “transitions” that need to happen almost simultaneously — layer-2 scaling, wallet security and privacy-preserving features.
Layer-2 Scaling: A Must for Ethereum’s Survival
In a June 9 post via his personal blog, Buterin explained that the Ethereum blockchain outright “fails” without sufficient scaling infrastructure to make transactions cheap.
“Ethereum fails because each transaction costs $3.75 ($82.48 if we have another bull run), and every product aiming for the mass market inevitably forgets about the chain and adopts centralized workarounds for everything,” he said.
Smart Contract Wallets: A Double-Edged Sword
Another point of failure, according to Buterin, relates to smart contract wallets.
He explained that a move to smart contract wallets has caused some issues, because of complexities from the user experience side of things when users take control of multiple addresses at once.
Moreover, in the context of an on-chain world with zero-knowledge rollups, wallets would need to secure not only crypto assets but also user data.
“In a ZK world, however, this is no longer true: the wallet is not just protecting authentication credentials, it’s also holding your data.”
Privacy: An Essential Transition for Ethereum
The last of Buterin’s three transitions — privacy — will need to come in the form of improved identity, reputation and social recovery systems.
“Without the third, Ethereum fails because having all transactions (and POAPs, etc) available publicly for literally anyone to see is far too high a privacy sacrifice for many users, and everyone moves onto centralized solutions that at least somewhat hide your data,” he said.
To resolve this issue, Buterin suggested that stealth addresses could be implemented.
The Challenge of Coordination
Achieving all three transitions will be “challenging” because of the “intense coordination” involved between them, Buterin admitted.
These transitions, according to him, “weaken” the “one user — one address” model, potentially complicating the way transactions are executed.
“If you want to pay someone, how will you get the information on how to pay them?”
“If users have many assets stored in different places across different chains, how do they do key changes and social recovery?” he questioned.
A Call to Improve User Experience
Buterin concluded by stressing the need to build infrastructure that ultimately improves user experience:
“Despite the challenges, achieving scalability, wallet security, and privacy for regular users is crucial for Ethereum’s future. It is not just about technical feasibility but about actual accessibility for regular users. We need to rise to meet this challenge.”