Ethereum Classic is dominating the cryptocurrency news cycle.
After a slumber of some days following the Ethereum hard fork that
refunded investors of the hacked DAO, the unforked and re-named
Ethereum blockchain and its native token classic ether (ETC)
surged. Exchanges enabled trade in the digital currency, investors
bought in, miners pointed their hardware to it, and a new
development community began to form.
But Ethereum Classic also has led to chaos and uncertainty. The
forked half of the chain - sometimes dubbed "Ethereum One," and
supported by the Ethereum Foundation - is still running as well.
Ethereum has, therefore, effectively split into two networks. An
unprecedented situation in the cryptocurrency space.
The question on everybody's mind is, therefore: How will this
In this three-part series,
provides an overview of some of the scenarios that circulate
throughout the different Ethereum communities and the wider
Part 1 of this series
covered how the great Ethereum schism can end relatively well for
Ethereum One (but not so much for Ethereum Classic).
In Part 2: How the great Ethereum schism can end relatively well
for Ethereum Classic (but not so much for Ethereum One).
Author's note: Not all scenarios or nuances may be accounted
for, nor does inclusion in this list - or order thereof - say
anything about likelihood.
Scenario 4: Ethereum Classic Overtakes (or Catches Up
With) Ethereum One
Ethereum Classic may continue growing to the point where it
catches up with, or overtakes, Ethereum One by market share and
hash power. While this was originally a long-term plan at best for
the Ethereum Classic community, the recent surge suggests it might
happen much sooner than anyone expected.
This scenario could play out in several ways. Here are more
Perhaps Ethereum Classic draws in a whole new set of users that
were never interested in Ethereum before. This could happen for
multiple reasons. With the removal of a (perceived) central point
of control - the Ethereum Foundation - Ethereum Classic seems to
have attracted a new wave of interest already. Meanwhile, Ethereum
Classic is cheaper to use than Ethereum One. And its dedication to
censorship-resistance and immutability may attract a certain class
of users and use-cases as well - especially since all properties of
Ethereum One should be offered as well. And, of course, there may
be other reasons.
Or, perhaps more and more Ethereum One users will switch back to
Ethereum Classic. This could also happen for several reasons. It's
very unclear, for example, how much support the hard fork ever
really had; this support may have been severely overstated. And
even if the hard fork had much support before it happened, users
may reassess their original position now that they are no longer
financially invested in The DAO. Perhaps more of them will come to
agree that immutability is a vital property of a blockchain, or
that the Ethereum Foundation represents a single point of failure.
Or maybe the Ethereum Foundation will make more controversial
decisions, driving users away. And again, there may be other
There are also different possible outcomes if Ethereum Classic
overtakes Ethereum One.
First of all: Ethereum One software clients will
automatically switch back to the (original) Ethereum Classic chain
if it ever becomes the chain with the most proof of work. (This is
also referred to as the "longest" chain - though it's not really
about length.) There would still be two separate chains, with two
Regardless, more users may consider Ethereum Classic the "real"
Ethereum from that moment on. Before and shortly after the hard
fork, many proponents of the hard fork maintained that the "real"
Ethereum would be the one with longest chain. If Ethereum Classic
overtakes Ethereum One, by their own logic these users would have
to switch back. (Or they would have to re-think their position on
what determines the "real" Ethereum.)
Either way, Ethereum inventor and project lead Vitalik Buterin -
on behalf of the Ethereum Foundation - has committed to work on the
Ethereum One project. Assuming he does, the Ethereum Classic
project could still copy code from Ethereum One, even if Ethereum
One is much smaller. While it may be strange for the most important
developers to primarily develop for a minority chain, it does not
have to be a fundamental problem.
It is also possible, though, that the Ethereum Classic project
develops a more distinct technological vision over time. In that
case, Ethereum Classic and Ethereum One could copy code from each
other - and reject what they don't like.
Scenario 5: Ethereum One Splinters
As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, now that they appear
viable, Ethereum coin-splits may happen more often. And, of course,
that's not only true for Ethereum Classic; Ethereum One may
experience further splintering as well.
This scenario would closely resemble the scenario where Ethereum
Classic splinters, except that it would be the Ethereum One
community that branches out, or both Ethereum Classic and Ethereum
One do. Perhaps in such a way that there will be no clear "main
chain" at all. Instead, all different Ethereum projects could
co-exist much like different altcoins do today (not counting
Bitcoin.) They would vary in size and popularity over time,
providing for different use-cases, with no clear winner.
Scenario 6: Only Ethereum Classic Lives On, Ethereum One
As a sixth scenario, Ethereum Classic may not only overtake
Ethereum One, but essentially "defeat" the fork attempt, and
"restore" the pre-fork Ethereum chain as the one and only Ethereum
Ethereum One failure scenarios relating to Ethereum Classic
resemble the examples in Scenario 4, except that these scenarios
would continue to play out until only the Ethereum Classic chain is
left - perhaps as a sort of snowball-effect back to the original
And there's an additional category of scenario's that could
spell the end for Ethereum One entirely: scenario's pertaining to
the Ethereum Foundation. Since Ethereum One and the Ethereum
Foundation are closely linked, the foundation may be cause for an
exodus from Ethereum One to Ethereum Classic, which does not have
such a (perceived) single point of failure.
For one, the Ethereum Foundation might change course itself. If
the Ethereum Foundation ever switched focus back to Ethereum
Classic, support for Ethereum One might just disappear entirely.
This could happen voluntarily, perhaps for one of the reasons
described in Scenario 4. Or maybe the Ethereum Foundation will be
forced to focus on Ethereum One by court order; it has been
suggested that legal cases are already in the making.
Or maybe key members of the Ethereum Foundation quit altogether.
Perhaps voluntarily, because they don't want to develop for the
platform any longer. Or perhaps involuntarily, for instance due to
mentioned legal trouble. And there are some darker scenario's as
well, scenario's where "something bad" happens to these key
(Though in most of these scenarios, as pointed out in the first
part of this series, Ethereum One could still live on as an
In Part 3: How the great Ethereum schism can end badly for
both Ethereum Classic and Ethereum One.