Can Ethereum Make Monero Obsolete?

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Ethereum Gold Coins 3d illustration
A closer look at Ethereum’s RingCT upgrade, and anaylsis on it’s impact to Monero, a popular dark web crypto-currency.

Monero has been a popular cryptocurrency in the dark web marketplaces for some time now.

It exists as a secure, private and untraceable alternative to Bitcoin, ultimately seeking to overcome the endpoint-transparent nature of Bitcoin while maintaining the important proof of work concept.

Bitcoin has always had a problem on the dark web: it isn’t private. The needed fix has always been through additional steps such as services like Helix to tumble coins in an effort to obscure the coins’ transaction history, which adds trust issues for users through the addition of another service.

Monero’s inner workings revolve around hiding the wallet associated with your public address in an effort to obscure transactions.

It’s about putting your wallet in the shadow then blending transactions while maintaining verification of the system. We’ve written on the interior of Monero before; however, the Ethereum project has been running upgrades successfully since October 2017 which may threaten Monero’s turf.

Ethereum’s core development team met on September 8 to discuss the cryptocurrency’s future and the inevitable Byzantium fork. Byzantium contains updates including privacy features embedded in the implementation.

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You get the sense that Ethereum, unlike countless other alt-coins, really does have its heart on development.

The wave of ICO insanity that has crashed on our shores will eventually recede when the tides turn. All that will be left is the strongest coins with the strongest communities, strongest adoption, and strongest technologies behind them.

The Byzantium fork was successful and Ethereum has been running smoothly since implementation in mid-October 2017.

It’s clear that Monero hasn’t died away, but it has had a rough time since December (as the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem has), and it has steadily lost ground against Ethereum more recently.

One thing to remember is that as Ethereum implements technologies that have existed in other cryptocurrencies, it does so with some foresight, which is a godsend in the cryptocurrency game where everything seems like a gamble.

As Ethereum continues to change, improve and adopt alt-currencies’ best parts, it’s possible that Monero will become a coin of the past for the dark web in the times to come.

Ethereum could be the new darknet marketplace coin of choice, even taking preference over Bitcoin as the global law enforcement organizations and governments work to track transactions and dream up regulatory constraints targeting Bitcoin.

With that said, Ethereum isn’t suddenly an entirely private and secure ecosystem on its new fork: just because Ethereum can turn to zksnarks in transactions does not make every ETH transaction private.

Monero symbol on-screen among piles of Monero coins. 3D rendering
Monero has been a popular crypto-currency in the dark web marketplaces for some time now.

This is where Monero has the conceptual upper hand. Monero was designed from the ground up as privacy-focused, as was Zcash, another crypto-currency which uses zksnarks and has garnered attention on the dark web (mostly due to it’s recent preference by criminals in data ransoms) – and privacy matters like no other issue when it comes to the dark web.

But the charts don’t lie, except when they do. A conceptual upper hand does not necessarily translate to a real world upper hand. All cryptocurrencies are in their infant phases in the view of technology, and adoption and longevity are the biggest issues.

The wider question becomes how can the alt-coins stand up to the core cryptocurrency projects like Ethereum and Bitcoin in the long term?

The market itself as a whole is clearly valued, with mere whitepapers translating into billion-dollar valuations. It’s the 2000 tech bubble all over again – this time with a new set of tech.

Sure, Bitcoin might still be the bargain of the 21st century at $10K per coin, but Dentacoin at $500M? Tron at $4B? It’s insane.

In the end, regardless of how much uptake an alt-coin may have, can the coin, individually and in the long term, weather the storms of market volatility, price corrections, and pending incarnations of governmental regulatory action?

Monero may have a place in the market currently, but as its big brother Ethereum looks to incorporate some of the technology that sets it apart, then what will allow it to continue existing in the long term?

It’s possible that the dominant coin of the darknet marketplaces in the future will be a forked version of Ethereum.



Con's education background is law, where he's published on crypto-currency regulation. His opinion editorials range across the relationships between people and technology and the societal challenges it presents. His passion is for information security and the intertwining legal issues
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