Bitcoin was founded on the idea that it would provide transactional transparency and be an overall force for good. Utilizing a decentralized and open source blockchain, it was designed with the express purpose to change the global financial infrastructure for the better. And, in all fairness, it has mostly lived up to the promise of its premise.
However, a few things have prevented Bitcoin from ascending to the dizzying heights of cryptographic nirvana. There are a number of common misconceptions about this virtual currency that seem to crop up.
For starters, many are under the mistaken impression that Bitcoin is somehow associated with illegal activity. This is largely inaccurate. A great quote from an old John Ford Western comes to mind: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” That would certainly seem to apply here.
At first glance, there is quite a bit of rhetorical nonsense floating around about Ponzi schemes, drug trafficking, and unreliable exchanges. All of this must be taken with a grain of salt. Keep in mind that fiat money has been and continues to be used to achieve these nefarious ends. Furthermore, it should be noted that governments are not necessarily anti-Bitcoin just because they haven’t made it part of their legislative agenda.
Before the general public can wholly embrace a shiny new toy, that shiny new toy must be thoroughly vetted. The vetting process is instrumental to gaining the public’s trust. Having said that, innovation has always been met with skepticism, and rightfully so; healthy skepticism is the first line of defense against fraud.
In the case of Bitcoin, there has always been an air of mystery surrounding its origins. This is due in no small part to the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, whose true identity remains a point of contention. To make matters worse, the recent Craig Wright hoax has only added fuel to the fire. The irony of espousing transparency while obfuscating your true identity isn’t exactly subtle.
If Nakamoto was trying to send a mixed message, he succeeded. There would appear to be some cognitive dissonance at the very root of Bitcoin. It should come as no surprise, then, that there are those who are not entirely sold on it. That is why, right or wrong, there is a lingering sentiment in some circles that Bitcoin suffers from a lack of strong leadership. Perception has become reality.
That is hardly the case with Ethereum. Indeed, the opposite holds true. Ethereum was founded by Vitalik Buterin, a young cryptographic prodigy of Russian descent who grew up in Canada. When Buterin first came across Bitcoin in 2011, he was immediately struck by the significance of the blockchain, so much so that he co-founded Bitcoin Magazine with Mihai Alisie. It didn’t take long before Buterin realized the blockchain’s full potential was being wasted, and so he decided to do something about it.
By raising approximately $18.5 million during a crowdsale in 2014, Ethereum hit the ground running and hasn’t looked back. It was designed to be what the Internet was originally supposed to be: decentralized, free of restrictions, an interface sans interference. It represents the idealized version of the Internet, and it is capable of being so much more.
Unlike his Nakamoto counterpart, Buterin has been very open every step of the way. He hasn’t left anything to chance. There is no unsolved mystery here. No room for doubt or speculation. No questionable third party sources. This isn’t a whodunit. This is straight from the horse’s mouth. Buterin is a man who stands firmly behind his convictions. As a matter of fact, he has gone to great lengths to explain his intentions with Ethereum as well as its functions while clearly outlining his vision for the future.
They say trust must be earned, a concept Nakamoto may have underestimated or overlooked when he elected anonymity over transparency with Bitcoin. As a result, many have instead placed their trust in Ethereum’s trustless platform. Notable companies like Microsoft, IBM, GNOSIS, Deloitte, and Transactive Grid have all begun integrating the technology with their own. Buterin’s visibility and accessibility have lent credibility to Ethereum while Nakamoto’s secret identity and conspicuous absence haven’t done Bitcoin any favors.
Whereas Bitcoin laid down the foundation for cryptocurrency, Ethereum is building upon that foundation. Bitcoin and Ethereum each have a decentralized blockchain, but that’s where the similarities end. Ethereum’s blockchain is highly adaptable and can be used for a variety of purposes other than just basic financial transactions. For instance, among other things it can be a platform for smart contracts, decentralized applications, crowdfunding, prediction markets, voting, domain name registries, the Internet of Things, smart property, and intellectual property.
With Ethereum, what you see is what you get. No cloak and dagger. Just click and ledger. Buterin has nothing to hide, and neither does Ethereum. Whatever concerns anyone may have, Buterin will always be available to address and alleviate those concerns. Meanwhile, where is Nakamoto? Oddly enough in this context, being a ghost doesn’t mean you’re transparent. Ethereum is the clear winner here.