Ethereum Flash Crash Proves It's Ready For The Big Leagues

Cryptocurrencies are growing up so fast!
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Credit: Flickr user BTC Keychain

Credit: Flickr user BTC Keychain

Everyone knows bitcoin, the manic and reputationally challenged cryptocurrency that has enthralled legions of paranoiacs, techno-utopians, and even a few hedge funders. But fewer know bitcoin's better-coifed and more ambitious younger sibling Ethereum, whose applications extend beyond bitcoin's fortes – speculation, ransomware, publicity stunts – to include the eventual establishment of a fully digital smart contracting platform that will revolutionize business, commerce and society. Like, did you know the largest-ever private crowdfunding just took place using Ethereum?

Of course, any discussion of blockchains and cryptocurrencies inevitably runs into the question of whether these novel gizmos are at all ready for the complex realities of the actual marketplace. It's sort of a problem, for instance, that a single bitcoin transaction expends enough energy to drive a Tesla Model S 300 miles. There's also the fact that bitcoin et al – unlike any actual currency to ever exist – actually get more difficult to transact as the number of users grows.

These are certainly some thorny problems. But on Wednesday Ethereum managed to pass one milestone that puts it in good company, well-established equity and forex markets included: It had its first big flash crash. Courtesy Reddit:

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That there is the price of one ether (as they're called) dropping from around $300 to a low, low price of $13 Wednesday afternoon before shooting back up. Reddit users blamed a single seller's $30 million ether dump, which might have triggered a cascade of other sale orders. Here's another view:

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Ethereum, of course, has a long way to go before it can even begin to challenge the existing financial-monetary system in all its scale and complexity. But at least it's already had its requisite massive-sudden-price-crash-of-dubious-origin, a hallmark of our more mature markets. Welcome to the big leagues, blockchain.

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