At ETHSeoul, Ethereum Developers Turn Attention to Privacy and Users

Real-life use cases, privacy and making blockchain applications more accessible for retail users dominated the conversations at Ethereum’s developer event.

AccessTimeIconAug 10, 2022 at 5:35 a.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 4:43 p.m. UTC
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SEOUL, South Korea — Ethereum developers turned their attention to privacy systems, scalability and enhanced user-friendliness as they gathered at a swanky building in Seoul’s Gangnam business district for ETHSeoul 2022, a technical conference focused on the second-largest blockchain.

White tees and gaming laptops were everywhere as enthusiasts cheered on Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, who took the stage to kick-start the event that ran Aug. 5-7.

Buterin cited zero-knowledge (zk) proofs and Soulbound tokens as major developments within the Ethereum ecosystem that could provide better privacy, better security and real-world use cases for users.

“With zk proofs, you are able to prove you are a human without actually revealing it. You are also able to have reputation systems where you can prove you have done or did not do something,” he said.

“With Soulbound tokens, which are non-transferable, you can prevent dumping and unequal allocations, leading to better governance and fairer token distributions,” Buterin added, referring to the parts of the crypto world filled with opportunistic developers and rug pulls.

That was a view shared by Janmajaya Mall and Barry Whitehat from the privacy and scaling team for the Ethereum Foundation. Mall and Whitehat said the concept of off-chain microtransactions, or transfers of small tokens that are outside of a network, is a way to expand scalability for blockchain users while zk proofs improved the privacy aspect.

Nik Kunkel, developer at Ethereum lending and borrowing platform MakerDAO, summarized the problems and concerns brought about by the lack of transparency and actions of centralized institutions such as Celsius Network, BlockFi and Voyager Digital, and introduced the concept of community consortiums.

“Essentially you want to onboard everybody in the community and every stakeholder to get consensus,” Kunkel said. “You are essentially betting that the entire community isn’t going to murder itself.”

Rahat Chowdhury, an engineer at blockchain network Polygon, emphasized the importance of security and user experience for achieving mass adoption.

“People who are in the space understand gas fees and why we need them, but those who aren’t native to Web3 don’t get it and don’t want to,” Rahat said. “We need to make apps more inviting to people that aren’t native to Web3 if we are to achieve mass adoption.”

Michael Blank, COO of network developer Polygon Studios, spoke on the challenges of bringing Web3 to the masses.

“We need to ask ourselves what additional value the technology provides to the one before it, how easy it is to enter and engage users, and how many repeat users there are,” Blank said.

The Ethereum Foundation’s Aqeel Mohammad expressed the need for more proof-of-stake validator nodes to be established in South Korea and Asia to fulfill the aims of decentralization. Currently, the majority of nodes are in Europe and the U.S.

Ethereum Foundation's Aqeel Mohammad ended the event with a session on the upcoming Merge. (CoinDesk)
Ethereum Foundation's Aqeel Mohammad ended the event with a session on the upcoming Merge. (CoinDesk)


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Shaurya Malwa

Shaurya is the Deputy Managing Editor for the Data & Tokens team, focusing on decentralized finance, markets, on-chain data, and governance across all major and minor blockchains.

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