Can Ethereum escape its scaling issues to break through $2000?

Posted: 16 February 2021 11:30 pm

To help ease out Ethereum’s scaling problems, the platform’s proponents have been actively testing out sharding and layer 2 solutions such as Skale and Optimistic Network.

  • Ether has been range-bound between $1700-$1900 for the past week despite other high market cap coins setting new all-time-highs.
  • Despite mounting gas fee concerns, the volume of Ether held across various exchanges has continued to dip at a rapid rate.
  • Over the course of February, the cost of facilitating a transaction on the Ethereum network has been hovering above the $16 mark.

On Feb. 15, Ether plunged to a price point of $1,660, before forging a swift recovery, exhibiting gains of 9% over the next 12 hours. However, since then, the currency has not been able to cement its position above the $1,800 threshold, constantly fluctuating a little over/under the aforementioned price range. At press time, the second-largest cryptocurrency by total market capitalization is sitting at $1,770.

Even though initially many had been speculating that the launch of CME’s ETH futures could cause the digital asset to dip or maybe stagnate, following the announcement, Ether’s value actually proceeded to rise. However, it now appears as though rising gas fees and low transaction throughput rates may be starting to undermine investor confidence, leading to the currency plateauing around the $1,800 range.

To put things into perspective, ETH transaction fees have been on the rise for quite some time now, with prices hovering around the $8-$10 mark at the beginning of the year. And while even then these rates were considered relatively high, since the start of February, matters seem to have gotten worse, with the cost of a transaction on the Ether blockchain now at $21.04 — a hefty sum that not everyone seems to be willing to pay.

How to buy Ethereum

A chart showing the average cost of a transaction on Ethereum since December

Ethereum Average Transaction Fee (source: Ycharts)

In response, a number of Ether devs and platform proponents have been implementing sharding and layer-two solutions to help curtain this issue as much as possible. Some options that are actively being tested out include Skale and Optimistic Network. Lastly, it also bears mentioning that Eth2 will also make use of the above-stated sharding concept, so as to help increase the number of transactions that can be processed by the Ethereum network at once.

Fundamentals still exhibit immense strength

Despite all of the problems being faced by Ether, the cryptocurrency continues to showcase amazing growth, with the total value locked (TVL) across the DeFi ecosystem currently hovering just below the $40 billion mark. To further expand on this, one can see that at the start of February, this value lay at just $27.95 billion, thus representing a total gain of around 30% within the last 17 days alone. On the subject of Ether’s future monetary outlook, Ben Zhou, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Bybit, told Finder:

“Interest from institutional investors, DeFi development demand, and steady swelling of staking on Eth2 combined have pushed Ether to new highs and we are seeing little sign of this upward trend abating.”

Similarly, Michael Anderson, co-founder of Framework Ventures, a thesis-driven crypto venture firm, believes that despite its existing issues, people need to realize that Ethereum is the next wave of computational technology that should be valued on a basis similar to that of ‘cloud tech’ — since it serves as the 4th generation of a computational evolution that started with mainframes back in the 1940s. He added:

“Decentralized Finance (DeFi), which largely runs on Ethereum, is a major part of this evolution and will continue to play an even bigger role in bringing Ethereum and blockchain to the world of traditional finance. Ethereum is now becoming a mainstream asset and contrary to what many may believe, the launch of CME Futures for ETH has actually been a driver in Ethereum’s price rise.”

Anderson also pointed out that the new technical changes that are lined up for Ether will update the value proposition of the asset in a big way — such that, instead of being inflationary, the digital currency will become deflationary. This, in his opinion, will also help spur Ethereum’s rise, with the currency most likely hitting $10,000 by the end of the year.

Lastly, on the subject, Sidharth Sogani, founder and CEO at CREBACO, a credit rating provider for exchanges, blockchains, and coin offerings, told Finder that even if we face further corrections in the near future, Ether has stabilized to a point wherein a drop below the $1,500 range is highly unlikely. “What scares me is the way the alt markets are moving. This is purely speculative and can result in sudden crashes”, he added

Sogani highlighted that there are a few whales that are actively pumping and dumping a whole lot of alts these days, something that people have to be increasingly cautious about if they want to be smart with their money. That being said, he believes the Ethereum market has now grown to a point where it has become too big for any number of whales to manipulate.

Exchange withdrawals continue to happen at a furious pace

As Finder had pointed out earlier, the amount of Ether being held across centralized exchanges has been dropping at a furious pace for a few months running now. For example, we can see that between Jan. 1 to Feb. 15, an estimated total of 600,000 ETH was withdrawn from all centralized exchanges. As can be seen from the chart below, the outflow of ETH has been remarkable, with the trend quite likely to continue in the near future.

Amount of Ether held on exchanges over time

ETH Reserves Across Exchanges vs ETHs Price Increase (source: CryptoQuant)

What this seems to suggest is that these coins are either being transferred to cold wallets or being pumped into the DeFi ecosystem but it is highly unlikely that this crypto will be sold in the near term.

Not only that, it also sheds light on the fact that more and more people are becoming vary of the fact that they gain no real benefit by storing their digital assets on exchange wallets and that they can participate in various passive income schemes (i.e. staking, lending, etc) by simply taking charge of their holdings.

Interested in cryptocurrency? Learn more about the basics with our beginner’s guide to Bitcoin, dive deeper by learning about Ethereum and see what blockchain can do with our simple guide to DeFi.

Disclosure: The author owns a range of cryptocurrencies at the time of writing

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade. Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

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