The whole of the cryptocurrency world is currently fussing over recent events regarding Bitcoin, and rightly so. The price drop of $1,000 per BTC and the pulled release of the planned SegWit2x hardfork has kept Bitcoin firmly in the public eye. In the meantime however, Ethereum has been making slow and steady improvements and growing its own network.
Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency, has seen an increase in usage recently as the ICO world grows and the new ERC20 and ERC223 tokens were born. The Ethereum Foundation recently published a report that indicated the network had processed around 44% more transactions than Bitcoin; a statistic showing the true potential of Ethereum’s intuitive system. In the same period, the number of pending transactions for Bitcoin has fluctuated from 39,000 to 47,000, while the number for Ethereum has been stable - between 30 and 300.
Ethereum released the ZK-SNARK protocol alongside their Byzantium hardfork and this move was criticized by some insiders because of the risk from attack it is believed to be open to from quantum computers. It had been thought that the fork would cause a sudden boom in adoption from Wall Street, however it is now believed that the risk from quantum computers has kept it steady.
Ethereum’s founder Vitalik Buterin has released a paper recently that indicates a conceptualised ZK-STARK protocol designed to protect a full zero-knowledge transaction from attack from anything; even from a quantum computer. This new protocol relies solely on hashes and information theory, rather than the ‘trusted setup’ that ZK-SNARK relies upon.
According to Buterin, while this upgraded anonymity is necessary, it does come at a data cost; from 288 bytes to a few hundred kilobytes. However, in applications where the extra protection is critical, the additional data usage would provide something unique to Ethereum: truly secure and anonymous transaction processing.