The launch of EOS’s mainnet this summer sparked a new debate. Would EOS be a better platform than Ethereum?
There was a lot of buzz around EOS’s record-breaking ICO. The $4bn raised remains the largest sum of any ICO to date. Now, though still in a nascent phase, some developers are becoming more constructive on EOS, choosing to build their dApps with EOS rather than ETH. Thus, EOS has become ETH’s first legitimate competitor. Some Analysts are describing this as the start of a “smart contracts war.”
Currently, EOS is the fifth largest cryptocurrency, with a market cap of about $5bn. Ethereum is nearly five times larger with a market cap of $23bn — the second largest of any cryptocurrency. Both currencies have fallen over 70 percent from their all-time high. EOS reached an all-time high of ~$22 about five months ago but currently trades around $5.70. Meanwhile ETH traded at an all-time high of ~$1,450 before falling to its current price of approximately $224. (Prices as of 8/10/18).
So, where does EOS go from here? We, at Enigma view the development of an Ethereum alternatives as an indicator of a healthy, developing crypto market. In an industry that was founded on the promise of decentralization, it makes sense to have a variety of host platforms for crypto entrepreneurs looking to launch new dApps. We are hopeful that, through their rivalry, EOS and ETH will accelerate innovation in the crypto world.
We recently met with the EOS team in Tel Aviv to find out more about the bourgeoning new platform. In this report we look at the idea behind EOS, the strengths it has over its Ethereum, as well as challenges it may face.
Origins of EOS
EOS was founded by Daniel Larimer who currently serves as CTO of EOS’ parent company Block.one. Larimer has had several other successful projects in the crypto space. He was one of the original founders of Bitshares and Steemit. Through these endeavors, he developed his Delegated Proof of Stake algorithm (DPOS).
DPOS was intended as a faster, more efficient, decentralized and flexible consensus model. DPOS leverages the power of stakeholder approval voting to resolve consensus issues in a fair and democratic way. All network parameters, from fee schedules to block intervals and transaction sizes, can be tuned via elected delegates. This is the framework on which EOS runs and differs from Ethereum’s Proof of Work model (POW).
EOS was built as a competitor to ETH. One blogger compares the rivalry to different computer operating systems in the early days of the internet: Mac vs Windows. Last year, the team at EOS saw an opportunity to address certain inefficiencies within the Ethereum network. As in any market, they saw no reason why one player should have a monopoly on new business, and so, EOS was born.
Comparative Strengths of EOS
The primary advantage EOS has over ETH is speed. At the moment, ETH can support up to 15 transactions per minute whereas EOS boasts the ability to complete 1,000 transactions per minute. This makes EOS a much more viable platform for mass adoption. Higher speeds are a necessity if blockchain projects are to be scaled successfully. For perspective, VISA currently handles 400 transactions per minute.
As mentioned, the primary reason for EOS’s comparative efficiency is it’s DPOS framework. The Proof of Stake framework means that EOS can function independently of a large, decentralized supercomputer. The result is a much more efficient means of validating transactions on EOS. ETH will soon have difficulties competing with EOS if it is unable to achieve comparable transaction rates.
As the crypto world continues to grow, and become more productive, ETH’s slower speeds are getting increasingly unsustainable. In 2017, a single game, CryptoKitties, caused so much traffic on the Ethereum blockchain that the network became congested, causing slower transaction times and higher fees. Recently, several major apps were launched on the platform, including Augur, and Golem. These apps will test the scalability of the Ethereum network, possibly putting a strain on functionality.
EOS’ ability to complete thousands of transactions per minute will enable easier deployment of dApps as they grow is size and functionality.
The other major advantage of EOS is that it is free to the user. By contrast, users of ETH-based dApps must pay in ETH. ETH’s fee of about a dollar per transaction has continued to climb as the network has grown. This poses an inherent barrier to new adoption.
By contrast, EOS dApps are free to use. The cost is the burden of the dApp developer, rather than the user. This model will likely result in higher adoption rates. Millennials are not used to having to pay to use an online service. Social media sites that attract and retain the most users, such as Facebook, and Instagram, do not charge a user fee.
The no-fee model is particularly appealing given the current market conditions in crypto. As one blogger writes, ETH’s high fee model is like “high gas prices in bearish market conditions.”
Challenges Facing EOS
Since its launch, EOS has had its fair share of critics. Loudest of all is Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum. Clearly, Buterin has an interest in picking holes in his competitor. On twitter, Vitalik has been outspoken about what he sees as false advertising on the part of EOS. For example, Buterin believes the ‘no fees’ label is a misnomer since EOS still charges fees to developers. Fees are not charged upfront to the user but they are still a part of the broader model.
Likewise, Buterin has argued that the idea that EOS is somehow less centralized dude to its 21 block producers is false. The 21 miners represent 21 slots, not 21 “distinct entities,” he tweets.
Indeed, Crypto sticklers will notice that EOS sacrifices decentralization in order to achieve increased efficiency. EOS has 21 block producers. This contrasts with the infinite number of miners in ETH’s proof of work model. While this helps EOS become a faster, more scalable network, it may concern those who feel it is not sufficiently decentralized. Nick Szabo, inventor of the smart contract, has expressed his doubts. He has described EOS’ method as “penny-wise, and pound-foolish” arguing that “social scalability gives you much more value than computational scalability does… We’re trying to build the Brinks trucks of the future, not the race cars.”
EOS’ unique constitution and complex governance model is another sticking point. Some claim that there is potential for bribery in the voting structure. The fact that Block.One wrote the original constitution has been attacked by crypto enthusiasts on both Twitter and Reddit. They argue this is too authoritative and centralized.
Why ETH May Prevail
First Mover Advantage
As the first dApps platform ETH has a first mover advantage. Since its launch in 2015, ETH has become an established and successful dApp community. There are already over a thousand dApps built on the platform whereas, so far, EOS only has nine live dApps to its name.
Default Platform for ICOs
ETH boasts a plethora of ICOs launched with ERC-20 tokens. ETH remains the dominant currency of ICOs, a fact that, some argue, has contributed to the recent selloff in the currency. While the ‘no-fee’ model is a good sweetener, it will be difficult for EOS to dethrone ETH as the default platform given it has been the leader since the ICO market began.
Developers and investors alike are more accustomed to Ethereum and will not switch unless EOS offers them truly differentiated functionality. A more cautious investor will ague that Ethereum has a track record for success while the jury is still out on EOS.
Plans to Increase Speed
The primary advantage posed by EOS — high transaction speed — may not be unique to EOS for long. Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin claims Ethereum is working on creating a faster alternative and will eventually achieve one million transactions per second. They will do this through with the help of second-layer scaling solutions such as Casper, Sharding and Plasma .
Casper, released this January enables ETH staking. This frees up more liquidity on the network, thus speeding up transactions. Meanwhile, Sharding is technology designed to move Ethereum away from its time-consuming Proof of Work model. Sharding aims to decrease the amount of time needed to form consensus across Ethereum’s large network. It does this by simply sharing receipts amongst trustless nodes that are all able to come to the same
conclusion in regards to the money flow. Ethereum is also using Plasma, a new second-layer scaling technique. Buterin seems confident that ETH can use these methods to meet higher speeds.
If successful, these methods would enable Ethereum to handle enterprise-level software and compete with EOS. However, this is a big ‘if.’
Today, EOS remains far behind Ethereum. However, that could all change soon if Ethereum is unable to match EOS’s speeds.
Lower fees may not be enough of an incentive for blockchain entrepreneurs to upend existing systems on ETH. However, higher speeds will become a critical issue as technologies begin to scale.
If Ethereum’s plans to increase speeds with technologies like Sharding prove fruitless then EOS will possess a marked advantage over its competitor and will likely start to win a higher proportion of new projects. Eventually, this could result in them overtaking Ethereum as crypto’s largest smart contracts network.
— Aliya Itzkowitz, Enigma Team, London