Ethereum’s network processed 505,611 transactions yesterday, around 5,000 more than its previous high, as demand has seemingly considerably increased.
With the network now almost instantly confirming transactions in just 15 seconds, making it the fastest decentralized public blockchain, at least out of the main ones.
At the same time its fees are as good as zero, with the network experiencing little, if any congestion, even as it handles a new high of transaction numbers.
A fee of $0.006, that is less than a penny, is sufficient to quickly move your eth around. With even a fee of $0.001 getting you a confirmation.
This is the first time ever a decentralized public blockchain handles such a high level of transactions at such incredibly low fees.
Bringing back one of the main selling point of public blockchains – as good as instant and as good as free for anywhere in the world.
However, it’s not clear how long this situation will continue. Ethereum has a ceiling at around 1-2 million transactions in its current state, with capacity increased a few days ago by returning blocktimes back to around 15 seconds on average.
As demand increases there will be pressure on the network, but that can be addressed by raising capacity in a number of ways.
Proof of Stake (PoS) will lower block times to 2 seconds, increasing capacity by near 10x. Quite an achievement once implemented, but it will take some time to get there.
Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s inventor, himself is in charge of the PoS roadmap. It is probable initially it will be a hybrid PoS/PoW, increasing capacity by less, but more quickly.
When, however, is not clear. We’ll probably hear more in a few weeks at Devcon3 as developers present their work, with one of them being Buterin, of course.
A more long term, but breakthrough, increase in capacity will be done by sharding or parallelizing how transactions are handled, so that rather than all nodes handling every single transaction, x nodes handle y txs, then merge it all into a hole through maths.
That will take some considerable time with 2020 a big number for such achievement. Until then, on top of PoS, Lightning like networks such as Plasma and Raiden will assist, especially for smart contracts.
So ethereum continues to follow that original idea of as good as free and as good as instant, making its money not just better in abstract ways, but also in a concrete manner, so allowing you to send value, in a peer to peer manner, without requiring any permission, anywhere in the world, for less than a penny.