New York Times published an opinion article yesterday that suggests ethereum may take over bitcoin as the gold standard of cryptocurrencies. I disagree. And the proof is in the technical details.
Ethereum is a currency that’s vulnerable to hacks. Any cryptocurrency is, but with ethereum, it is more so. In fact, ethereum was hacked once in its less than three years long history. $80MM worth of ethers were stolen, and the Ethereum Foundation decided to change the source code so that the thieves would not be able to use the money. The idea was, this way, the heist would be contained. But, to some, this was no different than governments seizing individuals’ properties, hence against the decentralized spirit of blockchains. As a result, the ethereum-classic hard-fork was born.
I don’t believe ethereum-classic has any merits, and in my opinion, Ethereum Foundation gave the right decision by avoiding hackers to use the ethers they had stolen, but it is a testament to ethereum’s pitfalls as a super capable cryptocurrency and a more flexible platform.
On the other hand, in bitcoin’s almost decade-long history, such an instance has never occurred. Because simply, it is safer by design. The fact that it doesn’t have a Turing-complete virtual machine makes it less prone to such attacks.
All in all, ethereum and bitcoin serve very different motivations. Ethereum is the best currency for crowd sale or ICO type of use-cases. However, bitcoin is and will remain for the foreseeable future the number one liquidity medium, the default cryptocurrency value-store, and a good money exchange platform. Its increasing block generation times though poses a problem, and make litecoin, with its ~ 2 minutes wait-time, a plausible alternative for the years to come.