Dear Bankless Nation,
This year was a tough one. Yesterday, we shared a few of our high-points and low-points of the year with you all, but today we’re doing something extra special.
We had an expansive chat with none other than Vitalik Buterin about his thoughts on 2022. He shared perspectives on Ethereum’s biggest wins, the things he learned personally, the people he disagreed with and his broader hopes for 2023.
It was a killer conversation and we’re psyched to have the whole thing available for our Premium Subscribers to watch or listen to now in Early Access. Our free subscribers will get to listen on Monday as well, but Ryan and David’s Debrief on their chat stays exclusive to Premium subs.
Below, we dig into Vitalik’s silver linings of the year.
– Bankless team
Lucas Matney, Editorial Director at Bankless
It’s been a brutal year for plenty of traders, but Vitalik Buterin sees a multitude of silver linings from 2022 despite the high-profile blow-ups of entities like Terra and FTX.
In a 100-minute chat with Bankless, the Ethereum creator digs into his hopes for the new year, his thoughts on some of 2022’s villains, and the silver linings from the past year, which he doesn’t think was all that awful.
“A lot of people are remembering the year for all of the terrible stuff that has happened… but I think it’s also important to remember all of the various positives that the crypto space has seen,” Vitalik told Ryan and David in the chat.
In today’s newsletter, we’re digging into the reasons Vitalik believes 2022 was bullish for Ethereum. To hear more of Vitalik’s takes, Bankless Premium Subscribers can watch along with the full episode right now in Early Access, free subscribers will be able to check it out on Monday.
Here are Vitalik’s five major Ethereum wins of 2022:
“So the Merge happened, and the Merge was amazing.”
This one should come as no surprise.
Vitalik heaped praise onto Ethereum’s much-delayed, much-hyped, much-sweated transition to becoming Proof-of-Stake as the year’s top win for the network.
The event, which Bankless listeners have heard Ryan and David discuss day-in and day-out for years at this point, was executed flawlessly – so it’s easy to see why Vitalik was so excited. (In our “Top Moments of 2022” post this week, we called The Merge devs our heroes of the year.)
Vitalik not only highlighted the achievement’s impact on Ethereum’s energy footprint, but also how it improved protocol security and network usability.
“My personal experience using Ethereum has improved massively,” Vitalik told us. “These days when I send a transaction, I click send, I wait a couple of seconds and I see that transaction got included into one block and it already has one confirmation… it’s already good enough to be competitive with credit card point-of-sales systems.”
Vitalik is mega bullish on the power of ZK-EVMs, which saw major leaps in innovation this year. The projects went from being a “non-existent pipe dream” to “the manifest long-term – and possibly even medium-term – future of scaling Ethereum,” he told us.
ZK-EVM projects leverage virtual machines that generate zero-knowledge proofs to verify the correctness of various smart contract actions. These are a massive leap forward in how Ethereum advances. There are a handful of teams building these including Matter Labs, Scroll and Polygon. Vitalik has always been a fan but says that the current progress being made has surprised even him.
“We have multiple ZK EVM implementations that are all promising some kind of mainnet launch next year — this is amazing,” he says.
The third big win Vitalik saw for the Ethereum ecosystem in 2022 was the adoption of Sign-In with Ethereum, which allows users to easily and securely log-in to web services using their Ethereum wallets.
No more remembering password combos, no more relying on centralized internet providers like Facebook and Google to handle your personal information and online identity. Sign-In with Ethereum allows users to own their authentication on the internet in an era where social media providers seem to own just about every aspect of your online life.
“Sign-In with Ethereum has seen massive gains in adoption; Ethereum has been in a position to take advantage of people’s desire to explore various alternative Twitters and alternative social media platforms,” he said, specifically highlighting platforms like Lens and Farcaster.
The use of crypto to help Ukraine in the midst of the Russian invasion was another bright spot for Ethereum in 2022. Vitalik noted that crypto payments and permissionless networks became more important than ever following Russian attacks on the country.
“Cryptocurrency payments actually worked for [Ukraine] when nothing else worked,” Vitalik told us. “Cryptocurrency has actually been a lifeline for the country and a lifeline for a lot of civilians.”
Aside from payments infrastructure, Vitalik highlighted how the system was used to garner donations for the military via grassroots donations to public wallet addresses and fundraising inside the crypto community through vehicles like NFT sales.
Lastly, Vitalik highlighted crypto giving and philanthropy in 2022 as one of the ecosystem’s biggest wins, not only in showcasing the effectiveness of permissionless payments infrastructure to route money to foreign organizations but also in highlighting the overall generosity of those in the sector even amid a very challenging year.
“Cryptocurrency as an international payments instrument for philanthropy has been huge,” he told us, specifically highlighting some of the evolving efforts that Covid relief funds put together last year have done to help people in nations like India.
It’s easy to remember the bad of 2022; there were some epic blowups and crypto prices were slashed. But there were also plenty of bright spots.
Our interview with Vitalik highlighted just how many leaps the Ethereum network took this year from both a technical and usability standpoint and how those changes helped bring about more positive impact in the daily lives of web3 users and people around the world.
We touched on Vitalik Buterin’s silver linings for the year in today’s newsletter, but give a watch or a listen to David and Ryan’s full conversation with Vitalik to hear what he’s most bullish on for 2023 and what he thinks the Ethereum community can learn from this year’s blow-ups.
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Lucas Matney runs the newsletter at Bankless as its Editorial Director. He previously was a Senior Editor at TechCrunch where he managed the publication’s coverage of the crypto industry. Before that, he was a beat reporter covering fields like crypto, virtual reality and the gaming industry. He has a journalism degree from Northwestern University.
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Not financial or tax advice. This newsletter is strictly educational and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. This newsletter is not tax advice. Talk to your accountant. Do your own research.
Disclosure. From time-to-time I may add links in this newsletter to products I use. I may receive commission if you make a purchase through one of these links. Additionally, the Bankless writers hold crypto assets. See our investment disclosures here.