Ethereum Classic (ETC) was formed in July 2016 following the infamous DAO Hack which took place on the Ethereum (ETH) chain. An exploit in the smart contract underlying the DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) enabled an attacker to syphon millions of Ether which had been invested into the DAO smart contract. The attack resulted in a contentious hard fork by the Ethereum Foundation, effectively reversing the malicious transactions and returning stolen funds to the DAO’s investors. Many regarded this as deplorable censorship on the blockchain (whereby all transactions are immutable), and as a result the original Ethereum chain was maintained and rebranded as Ethereum Classic.
Further reading on the DAO hack by CoinDesk.
The means to purchase Ethereum Classic is similar to buying Ether on the main Ethereum chain. You can buy Ethereum Classic at any of the following exchanges; those wishing to trade Ethereum Classic without having to worry about the security and storage of ETC can do so by trading at eToro.
eToro is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
eToro provides CFD trading which allows users to trade on the price of Ethereum without needing to purchase and secure the cryptoasset. eToro is a social investing platform available to traders in Europe. The company has placed an emphasis on cryptocurrency trading.
Kraken has the world's largest cryptocurrency volume in EUR.
Ethereum Classic has a lower market cap than Ethereum, however its potential for growth has been very apparent since it was formed in July 2016. To understand the possible return on investment for ETC, it is best to first look at the key players behind the cryptocurrency and their role in ensuring its success.
Barry Silbert’s Grayscale Investments is an investment firm which was started as a means to make purchasing Bitcoin and Ethereum Classic easy for mainstream investors. The ETC Trust purchases and secures Ethereum Classic tokens on its shareholders’ behalf, taking a small premium on each share sold. The trust launched in April 2017 with initial capital of $10M. Grayscale Investments has played a leading role in the market cap growth and adoption of Ethereum Classic so far.
Charles Hoskinson is CEO of IOHK – a company which supports the development of Ethereum Classic through their development team, “Team Grothendieck”. IOHK can be seen in the same light as Bitcoin Core, a team of developers who set out the roadmap and contribute code to the underlying software. This includes implementing decisions made over monetary policy as noted below.
Barry Silbert, Charles Hoskinson and their associated companies are committed to the success of Ethereum Classic. They are developing the tools and interest that are required for the successful adoption of any cryptoasset, and Ethereum Classic is a significant beneficiary of their hard work.
One of the key factors to consider when looking to invest in any cryptocurrency is the monetary policy which belies it. In 2017, the ecosystem agreed on a change to the issuance scheme which will reduce miner rewards by 20% every 5,000,000th block – starting from block 5,000,000. Such a scheme is expected to fix the supply of Ethereum Classic at roughly 210M – 230M coins. This is not too dissimilar to Ethereum, where the difficulty bomb and move to a proof of stake algorithm is expected to fix supply at roughly 100M tokens. Many investors have steered clear of Ethereum and Ethereum Classic due to its perceived inflation, however the idea that these two blockchains will have a perpetually increasing token supply is a falsehood.
As with any consensus-driven blockchain; these rules can be changed in the future. However, it is clear that the Ethereum Classic team wish to position ETC as an investment vehicle, and for that reason a fixed and deflationary currency supply is key.
As we have seen with both Bitcoin and Ethereum, strong demand will ultimately require scaling solutions which increase network throughput by many orders of magnitude. The number of transactions that can be processed on the Ethereum Classic blockchain currently stands at roughly 15 transactions per second. The demand for ETC transactions is relatively low compared to ETH, however Ethereum Classic developers have mapped out the inclusion of “sharding” in 2018. Sharding was initially conceptualized for Ethereum as a means to increase transaction throughput to in excess of 1,000 transactions per second by breaking the network into fragments (hence “sharding”) and distributing them across nodes. These fragments are much smaller in size than the original blockchain, and transactions can be validated much more quickly whilst retaining the security required for a public blockchain to function effectively. The details of how sharding will be applied to the Ethereum Classic blockchain are minimal at this stage – however it is likely to follow similar techniques to those outlined by the Ethereum Foundation.
As it may now be clear, despite Ethereum and Ethereum Classic being incompatible with one another, they do provide very similar technology with an aligned roadmap for development. The point at which these two blockchains diverge will be through the introduction of the Casper consensus mechanism expected to launch in 2018 on Ethereum. This consensus mechanism moves Ethereum from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake – the latter ensures transactions are validated by those who make a financial stake (in Ether) as opposed to those who mine new tokens with their GPUs. Ethereum Classic has so far shown no interest in using a Proof of Stake consensus mechanism, and may indeed find that many existing Ethereum miners move to Ethereum Classic when their hash power is made redundant.
As mentioned, the incompatible nature between Ethereum and Ethereum Classic means that an Ethereum wallet cannot receive Ethereum Classic tokens. It is important that users looking to purchase Ethereum Classic do so through a specified ETC wallet. There are several of these wallets available to users today, including Classic Ether Wallet which runs through open source code and is widely regarded as one of the most secure ways to store ETC. Other Ethereum Classic wallets are available including Jaxx.io.
As with any cryptocurrency, storing tokens on your hard drive can result in loss of funds if the private keys are not backed up and the hard drive fails. Storing coins on an exchange can also result in the loss of funds should the exchange go rogue or become insolvent (as has happened several times throughout history).
The most secure way to store Ethereum Classic (or any other cryptocurrency for that matter) is through a hardware wallet. These hardware wallets store funds offline in a physical USB device. The most trusted of these wallets is the Ledger Nano S which holds a strong reputation as an unhackable ETC storage device. Those who are more familiar with crypto can also use a Trezor hardware wallet, however this requires interfacing with MyEtherWallet – something which will certainly be confusing to new users.
Once you understand the differences between Ethereum and Ethereum Classic it is possible to draw your own conclusion as to whether this asset is under or overvalued. The price of Ethereum Classic does not share any correlation with Ethereum, and the fundamental use case of Ethereum Classic must be judged on its own merit. Given the influential companies which back this cryptoasset, it is likely that the currency is here to stay and that its utility for users, developers and businesses will grow in the future. At this point in time, the Ethereum Classic ecosystem is relatively small in comparison to Ethereum, but as these two blockchains diverge and the utility of Ethereum Classic becomes clear, it is possible that the cryptoasset matures into a high growth asset. In summary, Ethereum Classic appears to be a more risky purchase than the more established coins, but at the same time it has the potential for generating higher returns than its counterparts. A diversified crypto portfolio would do well to include Ethereum Classic.