Fast-rising altcoins are threatening Ethereum’s dominance — and making its price wobble

November 24, 2021, 9:56 PM UTC

Ether skyrocketed in value in 2021, but as more altcoins gain prominence the second most popular cryptocurrency is at risk of losing some of its luster.

Ether, the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network, broke $1,000 in January and never looked back. It was trading at more than $4,200 Wednesday.

Despite the rise in value, several prominent altcoins and alternatives to the ethereum network have jumped in popularity because of the advantages they have over Ethereum. The altcoin Avalanche, by Ava Labs, briefly jumped into the top ten most valuable cryptocurrencies this week after news came out of a deal the company struck with Deloitte to use the Avalanche blockchain.

Ava Labs claims that Avalanche can process more transactions, in less time, and for less money than smart contract applications built on the Ethereum network. Solana, another altcoin, also jumped into the top five most valuable cryptocurrencies recently in part because of its transaction processing ability. Compared to Ethereum’s transaction processing rate of between 15 and 45 transactions per second, Solana can complete 50,000. 

Solana also has the advantage of supporting the programming language Rust, which some traditional financial engineers already know, said Anthony Georgiades cofounder of Innovating Capital, a technology fund that invests in digital assets. This differs from Ethereum which uses Solidity, a fairly new programming language compared to Rust, Georgiades said. Because it supports Rust, Solana has opened the door for more people to build on its network.

“You can’t ignore what you see in terms of the overall market and developers building on top of these new platforms but at the same there’s a reason these platforms are striving to be easy and compatible, because they see there’s staying power with Ethereum,” he said.

Despite the threat of altcoins, Ethereum has the upper hand in being first, Georgiades said. Many applications are already built on the Ethereum network and with upgrades from Eth2 slated to be rolled out next year, many of the current disadvantages of Ethereum could be resolved soon. With Eth2 a series of updates are set to make Ethereum more scalable, secure, and less environmentally damaging

These changes to Ethereum could be a risk to alternative blockchains such as Avalanche and Cardano said Matt Savare, a partner in the Tech Group at the law firm Lowenstein Sandler. Yet, the industry is also growing overall, said Savare, which will be a good thing for Ethereum in the long run.

According to the blockchain market is projected to grow from $4.9 billion to more than $67 billion in less than five years. So, even if alternative blockchains and coins continue to take market share from Ethereum, the network will have staying power as long as it continues to evolve and foster its community, said Savare.

“It’s not a zero sum game,” he said.

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