Clearly, the Bitcoin price is moving with breathtaking speed (that’s code for “gut-wrenching volatility”). What’s going on behind the scenes – with the tech and network growth upon which the market price should probably be based – is much less exciting. Bitcoin isn’t leading when it comes to anything aside from price… in fact, it’s lagging ever-farther behind.
Bitcoin is less than a decade old, but in “crypto years” that’s appearing to be borderline ancient. Its blockchain is struggling to keep up – not just with its users’ transactions… but with other blockchains. Even the Bitcoin metrics that look amazing – such as the increasing number of transactions – seem sluggish in comparison to the competition.
The Race is On: Bitcoin vs Ethereum
As of publication time, a standard Bitcoin transaction took about 90 minutes to confirm on average. Ethereum transactions were confirming in less than 20 seconds. What this means in practice: being minimally confident that a simple value transfer transaction is final on the Ethereum blockchain is over 250 times faster than on the Bitcoin blockchain. Dwell on that a second.
Ethereum is over 250x as fast as Bitcoin.
One might be inclined to blame this on the notion that Bitcoin is much better known and so might have many more transactions than Ethereum. Maybe this overwhelming popularity could cause the network to bog down… Whoa there, Bitcoin optimist – not so fast.
The Bitcoin network confirmed 398,090 transactions yesterday – a new all time high for the network. Ethereum confirmed 663,579 transaction on the same day – also a new all time high. The latter all time high is over one and a half times the former… in case you didn’t do the mental math. This isn’t a fluke.
Ethereum doesn’t just consistently process transactions faster than Bitcoin – it consistently processes more transactions than Bitcoin does.
That’s Before Ethereum Got Fast
Today, Ethereum got much, much faster. With the successful launch of µRaiden (Micro Raiden – the precursor to the Raiden Network) state channels are now implemented on top of Ethereum. What this means, briefly, is that a certain class of common transactions can now be settled in real-time. [For more info, read: Blockchains: Taking the Chains Away?]
Ethereum has µRaiden right now. Bitcoin has no comparable offering, nor is it planned to have any for many months at the very earliest.
Because 250x faster just wasn’t enough…
Ethereum is ahead of Bitcoin in number of transactions, speed of on-chain transactions, and now speed of off-chain transactions (by default).
Its blockchain design makes it inherently easier to upgrade and develop on, ensuring that it can easily continue to stay well ahead of Bitcoin in the race to scale and innovate.
If Ethereum keeps winning these qualifying races, it’s bound to win the crypto marathon. See you at the finish-line… I think it’s labeled “sharding”… [more on that soon]
If someone tells you slowness isn’t a problem – take your money and run.
Don’t worry, they probably won’t be able to catch you.
I’m passionate about blockchains. I’m excited about decentralization, autonomous organizations, cryptocurrencies, and uncensorable dApps.
I’m also overwhelmed – with questions about these cutting edge technologies. I want to understand the tech, the politics, and the implications of the blockchain revolution.
Most of all, I want to share what I discover – because broader understanding will lead to greater participation, more rapid adoption, and, subsequently, a better world.