120 million—that’s the magic number Vitalik Buterin believes would make Ethereum a well-balanced, economically viable cryptocurrency. He shared his thoughts in a recent Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP), published on April 1. Buterin proposed to limit the production of Ethereum to twice the amount originally sold in 2014, which was 60,102,216.
Ethereum’s omission of a monetary policy has been the cause of backlash within the Ethereum community. As such, it has brought negative comments from the digital currency’s opponents, as well as its investors. Buterin’s EIP, while doesn’t imply a policy change by itself, should help to provide some guidance and help boost the coin’s value.
While Bitcoin has a cap of 21 million coins, Ethereum never established a limit. When it was initially conceived, the guidelines were to issue as many as 18 million tokens each year. This carried a caveat that indicated that the terms would change after Ether’s design reached a certain milestone.
That milestone could come by way of Casper, a proof-of-stake algorithm that could soon replace the Bitcoin proof-of-work algorithm upon which the digital currency was built. Casper is Buterin’s brainchild and works to overcome the current algorithm, which is resource-intensive and relies heavily on miners. This, according to many, can negatively influence user growth. It has been in the works for a number of years and, while there is still no clear launch schedule, once implemented could revolutionize the network.
In his EIP, Buterin said the Ether cap could ensure the platform’s economic stability. He’s confident that no economic policy can be created until 120 million tokens have been distributed. Reaching that level might also lead to a new level being established at 140 million.
The EIP is nothing more than what the name implies—a proposal. It is still needs to be accepted by developers and the community before any transition can be made. If accepted, there will still be a lot of work to do before actual implementation. Code would have to be written and then merged with existing software, which is a time-consuming process. That alone could take years and, in the fast-changing world of cryptocurrencies, years is not a very productive timeframe.