Bitcoin, according to the whitepaper, is peer to peer cash, and Ethereum is the smart contract blockchain, although this deal seems to have been broken.
It all stems from a simple tweet in which Vitalik Buterin mentions a dinner paid for in ETH, the native crypto on which Ethereum is based.
I used ETH to pay for dinner in a restaurant a month ago (one of my last meals before that sort of thing stopped being cool).
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) March 31, 2020
The comment was inspired by a strong statement by Ryan Sean Adams, founder of Mythos Capital, who teases Bitcoin maximalists keen to criticize Ethereum for its alleged futility, while he manages to harness its potential by sending a stablecoin with an underlying cryptocurrency through a private peer-to-peer transaction.
Ryan is not the only one who is trying to make a “Bankless society” an entrepreneurial mission.
Finding alternatives to the traditional financial system after Covid19 seems to be a much more urgent issue than it seems.
It’s not just a series of back and forth on social media: what emerges from the discussion is much more profound and deserving of attention.
While Buterin’s willingness to make people understand how ETH can also be used as an alternative means of exchange to FIAT is evident, there is competition with the Bitcoin blockchain, which has always made the monetary concept its greatest vocation.
What has always been the gap between the two projects has been a form of informal agreement on narrative, which has always seen Ethereum as a platform for smart contracts, as a distributed computer, as a basis for decentralized applications, while Bitcoin more as a decentralized monetary system.
This narrative sees ETH as a form of engine for computation, a crypto capable of running code, while BTC as a true global digital currency.
A historical image is evidence of this.
Something has changed on Bitcoin
Faced with accusations of betrayal, Vitalik defends himself by pointing out that before being digital gold, Bitcoin was Peer to Peer Electronic Cash, which is why he became passionate about it.
I joined bitcoin land in 2011 and back then I remember a clear vibe that bitcoin was p2p cash first and gold second. pic.twitter.com/jSdkXPwSiE
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) April 1, 2020
What is emphasized by Buterin is that there has been a change of direction in the development of Bitcoin, he himself points out that this change has not been appreciated by many important players in the community.
Nevertheless, says the founder of Ethereum, there are other blockchains that embody the values represented by the original white paper.
The deal between Bitcoin and Ethereum is broken
A rather paradoxical situation is emerging. What was not supposed to be a competing project, but a complementary system, is beginning to confuse the roles.
It will not be just some programmed inflation that will determine the market’s perception of the value of a blockchain.
Governance, technology and principles on the evolution of the protocol will be much more important.
Through DeFi, Ethereum is developing a financial system that could produce something very interesting even on the payments side.
Through system developments such as pTokens and Wrapped coins, BTC is also becoming part of the Ethereum ecosystem as an underlying asset.
How long will it be before ETH is not perceived as a store of value by the market or at least as “oil” in the race for the new virtual mobility of finance?
Perhaps it will never happen, although it seems that Bitcoin’s digital gold vocation is greatly limiting its development, this does not mean that we cannot give a high value to its great resilience and extremely high propensity for security.
The fact remains that we are talking about technology, trust and economy, the three things go together, in times like these there is no way of doing without any of them.