Ethereum & many ICOs valuations imply they’ll reach mainstream adoption including millions, if not billions of users.

Can the blockchain handle it? If not, how long will it be to get there?

Fred Ehrsam wrote an amazing article on this issue (available on Medium) discussing the challenges Ethereum has to overcome to reach global mainstream adoption in the not-too-distant future.

Building scalable Decentralized Applications (Dapps) requires:

1) Having all necessary pieces of the Dapp Developer Stack

By Ehrsam’s calculations , he suggests “we are 70% to a shaky first version of each”.

2) Scalability of stack components

If Ethereum is to fulfill its vision, let’s compare it to the demands of an already mainstream adopted tech platform, Facebook. Facebook processes about 175,000 requests per second without including API requests, which could put this figure 3x-4x higher.


So how does Ethereum currently compare to Facebook?

Presently, Ethereum can handle 13 requests per second (and only 7 requests per second for tokens built on its blockchain due to the smart contracts requiring more processing).

This numbers suggest, for Ethereum to reach 10m users we’d need to multiply this capacity 250x and we’re x2500 off being able to a Facebook size user-base on the Ethereum chain.

These estimations are hard to quantify accurately as the Dapp stack works different to current web stacks.


What’s the plan moving towards the future’s required scale of Ethereum?

Well here’s a summary of the scaling efforts at the present time…


A few things to keep in mind are:

  • Large-scale Dapps cannot solely run on the chain and require off-chain solutions.
  • Scaling is a multi-dimensional art. A “transactions per second” metric doesn’t do a great job of quantifying scalability.
  • These efforts have very few people (albeit highly talented) working on them.


In Fred’s article,  true to the subject of the piece, he encourages interested developers to contact and perhaps even join the cause to contribute building advancements in Ethereum…

If you have skills in any of the scaling disciplines you may be interested in talking to the Ethereum core devs (for on-chain solutions) by joining the Ethereum Core Gitter chat or contact Vitalik or Vlad, get into payment channel networks by contacting Jeff Coleman or the Raiden Network, or contact Truebit by responding to their active hiring thread on reddit.

Given recent ETH price changes, the Foundation has over $150m (750k ETH, $30m fiat) and expenses are ~$250k a month. The Foundation can now hire more developers at rates competitive to companies like Google, allowing forward thinking developers to take the plunge.

Over time, the blockchain industry may want to scale beyond the central coordination of the Ethereum Foundation. Going forward Ehrsam’s advice is…

Feature bounties which the community can request and approve when completed. The community could easily crowdfund $1,000,000+ and let many teams compete like in the DARPA Grand Challenge that kicked off the self driving car push. It’s also possible the Ethereum Foundation moves closer to a decentralized governance model (a DAO) over time, which would have the same effect.


The token economy is growing and it seems one day almost everything will be tokenized and connected via blockchains. Ethereum is still orders of magnitude off being able to support large-scale Dapps with millions of users. A bottleneck to scalability is currently the number of people working on the solution.

Based on current numbers and current state of the Dapp Stack, Ehrsam predicts Ethereum could be ready for a 1-10m user app by the end of 2018.


Written by Stephen @ Dapp.Tech | Published June 30th, 2017

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