We all have a dream, dream of a world where we have control over our assets, a world where our monetary activities are private, no matter how much the government, the banks, foreign powers or even the website you have an account in hate you or surveil you, a world where someone from Afghanistan can pay for the beer he bought from his American friend, and no matter how strong the sanctions are or that alcohol trade is prohibited in Afghanistan!
Our lovely Ethereum has always been one of the most promising entities to make this dream come true! right? nope! it’s not right! there are critical issues with Ethereum that makes it not the ideal thing to make the dream come true:
Table of Contents
High Transaction Fees
In the past month Ethereum transaction fee on the mainnet was in a range between 0.35$ to 3.8$, let’s take the lower number, 0.35$! it’s still a lot! you can’t pay for a Fortnite skin with that! Just to mention how the prices are in this part of the world (Iran, where I live) I pay 50k Rials every day (approximately 0.09$) to take a cab from home to university, definitely with the transaction fee being anything more than that or even more than one hundredth of that means no adoption for Ethereum, at least down here!
Long Transaction Times
Imagine you go into a store, buy a drink and then come out, how long does it take? For me about 30 seconds, but if I pay it with Eth, then the seller would wait 5+ minutes until he makes sure that the money is in his Ether wallet, long transaction times is another reason why Ethereum isn’t gonna make our dream come true!
Lack of Privacy
A Japanese tourist was killed in Colombia for resisting the robbers’ trying to take his phone and wallet, how much do you think all that could cost? 1k dollars? 2k? 10k? now imagine someone carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Ether in his phone and then buying a pair of shoes from a store where the store owner can actually see how much money the buyer has got? in lots of places around the world people smell things worthing more than 500$ and now all of your life savings are public to the whole neighborhood only because you bought a pair of shoes!
Issues Regarding Self Custody
Self custody takes away all the security layers that used to be above the user against the mistakes he could potentially make! getting tricked by a phishing website can lead to you losing all your life savings if you live off a salary paid on Ethereum! There’s no 2FA, there’s no “limited amount of money permitted to be transact” as it exists in most of the financial platforms, I lost 1800 Cardano and 0.003 BTC two years ago (worth 1200$ at that time) to a scammer! and this can happen to anyone, sometimes you may pay the amount of money you wanna send to the miner by mistake, and make The Worst Mistake of Your Life!
Current Status of Layer 2 Solutions
To make the matters easier, let’s take it this way: in optimistic rollups, fraud may happen but it can be challenged, in ZK-rollups, the sender’s ID, the recipient’s ID and the amount of tokens transaction can be hidden but you can still prove that the transaction indeed happened, just like ZCash.
There are currently 3 generalized layer 2 solutions (Arbitrum One, Optimism and Boba Network), and all of them are optimistic rollups, though we do have ZK-rollup solutions too but only in form of specific applications (e.g. Aztec), so here comes the first thing to consider: We don’t have ZK-rollup generalized layer 2 solutions.
The three optimistic rollup solutions mentioned above are really great projects that can lead to a wider acceptance of Ethereum, the notes under the description of each of them in Ethereum Documentation shows that these projects are mature yet and there is still work to be done, but man! when they reach the maturity needed Ethereum will just shine! I’m personally ‘optimistic’!
Ethereum Mainnet is not the solution to our dream, it doesn’t actually mean to be it as to decentralize you’ll have to sacrifice some usability, but there are layer 2 solutions that 1- decrease the transaction fee to less than a cent, 2- make the transaction get registered in a few seconds, and there are zk-s(n|t)ark rollup solutions that 3- can introduce a higher level of privacy (where no one can find out how much you own, plus anonymity).
Though it’s right that there isn’t a single layer 2 solution to offer the best of all and make us reach out dream! but there’s one thing for sure! our dream is gonna soon be built over Ethereum.
and Ethereum itself is just a platform to build it! not the dream itself.