Ether supply in question! Bitcoin and Ethereum supporters have been debating the total Ether supply vigorously on Twitter! The question proved contentious enough to warrant new code.
“Adding a proper total supply command to the client seems like a low-cost and reasonable thing to do,” said Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin in the Ethereum R&D Discord channel last night. Multiple independent developers jumped on the opportunity to set the supply schedule straight.
The question took place in the context of Bitcoin’s more-easily verifiable coin supply, thanks to its gettxoutsetinfo command. The command can be executed by any Bitcoin node to calculate the current supply. Ethereum lacks such a command, which drove independent developers writing its code to calculate its supply.
The total supply of ether is 111,562,994 as of publishing time, according to Messari.
Asset verification is both a strong and novel feature of blockchains. Rough supply counts exist for other assets such as gold or dollars. The supply of a given cryptocurrency can be exactes down to a precise unit. This is valuable for modeling and auditing purposes.
Many Ethereum community members were dismissive of the supply question, however. “I don’t give a shit about the supply,” said Augur co-founder and early cryptocurrency investor Jeremy Gardner on Twitter.
An additional concern raised by Ethereum skeptics was the fact that a full Ethereum node is quite difficult to run. Users who run their own nodes can “self-verify” not only the number of ethers in existence, but also the validity of transactions on the Ethereum network.
Self-verification is a popular social concept, as well as an ethical touchstone, for Bitcoin proponents. Ethereum nodes require a much more time and memory intensive undertaking. This has led to the emergence of a small class of infrastructure service providers.
Ethereum community members are more dismissive of running a full node based on arguments from Buterin in the early days of Ethereum. Ethereum 2.0 developers are also going for self-verification through Proof-of-Stake.
Regardless of all of this, Ethereum does have a concrete supply figure, even if it is difficult to locate. If it did not, Ethereum would not work, as Geth team leader Szilágyi said in a tweet.
“Ethereum has multiple client implementations, so a supply bug in one would instantly break consensus.”
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