- Ethereum manages to sustain low ‘gas fees’ despite the recent transaction overload caused by the launch of the crypto-fueled social marketplace Friend.tech.
- Layer-2 solutions like Coinbase’s new project, Base, are showing potential as a viable scaling architecture for the Ethereum network.
The Layer-2 Renaissance in the Ethereum Ecosystem
Ethereum’s scalability quest appears to have achieved a remarkable milestone. In a period characterized by a surge in transactions due to the astronomical growth of Friend.tech, a crypto-fueled social marketplace, Ethereum’s infrastructure demonstrated robust stability. Unlike prior instances where surges in activity led to skyrocketing gas fees, the mainstay of blockchain transaction costs, the current situation unfolds differently.
Traditionally, “gas fees” on Ethereum—the transaction costs incurred when executing operations—spike during periods of network congestion. This congestion is generally the result of high transactional activity, as witnessed during the CryptoKitties fad in 2017 or during the meme-coin mania earlier this year. At such times, the fees have reached alarming highs, ranging from 900 gwei during the CryptoKitties phase to a median of 155 gwei in May this year.
However, against this historical backdrop, the stability displayed by Ethereum’s network amid the Friend.tech frenzy is both unexpected and groundbreaking. Notably, the average daily gas fees on Ethereum have decreased by 26% since the launch of Friend.tech, according to FalconX Research. What could account for this unexpected equilibrium?
The answer likely lies in Ethereum’s strategic shift toward layer-2 scaling solutions—secondary frameworks built atop the primary blockchain. These frameworks are designed to decongest the main network by handling a share of the transactional load. Ethereum has advocated for layer-2 projects like Base, recently rolled out by Coinbase, as vital elements of its long-term scalability strategy.
A New Era for Ethereum’s Network Economics
Now, let’s dissect this situation with some deductive reasoning. If Ethereum’s gas fees are stabilizing even when transaction volumes are surging due to platforms like Friend.tech, and if these platforms are primarily functioning on layer-2 networks like Base, then it is logical to infer that layer-2 solutions are effectively alleviating network congestion. This validates the scaling architecture Ethereum has been advocating for.
Friend.tech’s performance on the Base sub-network seems to offer empirical evidence. The application quickly amassed over 100,000 users and generated fees exceeding $25 million, all without causing a crippling rise in gas costs. Furthermore, data shows that transactions on Ethereum’s main chain have remained relatively stable, even as combined transactions with layer-2 roll-ups like Base, Arbitrum, and Optimism have surged.
Ethereum’s capacity to handle a high volume of transactions without cascading into fee escalation marks a critical juncture in blockchain scalability. It suggests that the long-touted benefits of layer-2 networks are not just theoretical but operational. As Ethereum readies for its next upgrade, proto-danksharding (EIP-4844), which promises to further optimize layer-2 data storage costs, the narrative of scalability seems to be moving from speculation to reality.