Ethereum’s Fees Mean Choosing Between a World Computer and a Financial Network

Ethereum’s Fees Mean Choosing Between a World Computer and a Financial Network

(Sonny Ross)

CoinDesk columnist Nic Carter is partner at Castle Island Ventures, a public blockchain-focused venture fund based in Cambridge, Mass. He is also the cofounder of Coin Metrics, a blockchain analytics startup.

What was once an idle supposition is now concrete. Public blockchains are destined to privilege the largest, most fee-tolerant transactions, at the expense of non-financial uses. 

When a robust block space market emerged on Bitcoin in 2017, some wrote it off as an aberration, believing the future was #FeeLess. Since then, Bitcoin’s bite-the-bullet approach to fees has taken hold: low-fee chains have suffered from , and the second-most valuable blockchain, Ethereum, has effectively embraced the reality of meaningful fees. This heralds a shift in how major blockchains are perceived, moving away from generic computation layers and towards their destiny as financial infrastructure.

The logic for this shift is simple. Satoshi included the combination of fees and the blocksize cap in Bitcoin as both an anti-spam mechanism (to prevent the injection of arbitrary amounts of data that would make the chain impossible to validate) and as a method to compensate miners in the long term. Satoshi envisioned a future where fees alone would support miners, after the subsidy had run out. 

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