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The Potential of DApps to Disrupt Ownership Rights for Digital Assets and Content

The Ethereum Blockchain: First Mover That Transformed the Blockchain

The Ethereum blockchain was launched in 2015 and is built on the decentralised and distributed architecture present in Bitcoin. Ethereum uses smart contracts which can be interconnected to interact with each other and hence create an operational platform.

The significance of the Ethereum platform is that it allows users to build applications running on the blockchain, similar to software running on a computer. Through running smart contracts on Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), mass consumption of decentralised apps is made possible.

Given that Ethereum is a decentralised network, clients will have the benefit of control over their data, with no central governing authority. Ethereum is a permission-free, public blockchain platform whereby all transactions recorded on it are visible and accessible by everyone. The blockchain uses a Proof of Work (PoW) consensus mechanism according to which all nodes need to agree on a ledger to access the entries recorded in the network.

The key benefit of Ethereum when compared with other blockchains is that it has a large network which has been tested through years of operation and billions of trading value. For instance, in the early part of 2020, the total value of cryptocurrencies invested in Ethereum smart contracts exceeded US$ 10bn.

However, on the other hand, due to this growing popularity, Ethereum transaction (gas) fees reached a record US$ 23 per transaction in February 2021. Previously, for most of 2020, gas fees were around US$ 2. Although gas fees hit a high of US$ 61.74 in May 2021, transaction fees had declined to reasonable levels in the subsequent month of June 2021 at an average of around US$ 2.15. However, the decline in gas prices is indicative of the decline in demand for Ethereum (the cryptocurrency).

Ethereum Average Transaction Fee
Source: ycharts

Another key issue is that the growing demand has caused slower processing times whereby processing times are much slower than those of newer blockchains.

Ethereum’s open-ended and open-source nature has led to the creation of numerous dApps on the blockchain. In this report, we will be discussing some dApps which run on the Ethereum blockchain and how each of these have responded to the issues of high transaction fees and slow processing times on the blockchain.

These dApps and the sidechains that have evolved to support greater functionality for them create interesting new possibilities which we believe are currently underappreciated. In particular, we believe investor attention is too focused on what blockchains can currently enable rather than the overall direction in which blockchain technology is evolving. This is because despite the massive media attention on crypto and blockchain, the technology itself remains at the early stages of its development and deployment and thus many of the critical limitations it faces could be solved in time. It is thus more pertinent, we feel, to examine what some of these early dApps are trying to accomplish and some of the future possibilities that they hint at.

LightStream Research • Japan/Asia Long-Short • (Opens in a new window) ⧉

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