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What's Behind the Fast Growth of an Ethereum Alliance?

By / Oct 19, 2017 (LEEDDONG/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, which hopes to create an open-source blockchain standard around the technology for the business world, has gained more than 200 members in less than a year—including a number of Fortune 500 companies.

Someone who isn’t observing the cryptocurrency space very closely might be forgiven for not knowing what Ethereum is—and why it’s seen ripples that suggest it has the potential to usurp bitcoin in the long run.

Certainly bitcoin, whose value sits near its all-time high, isn’t going away anytime soon, but Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency variant, is no slouch from a financial standpoint, or an organizational one. In fact, the technology behind the cryptocurrency has found a surprising base of fans within the enterprise world.

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, which launched in February, has seen significant growth in its member base in recent months, with household names like JPMorgan, BP, MasterCard, Intel, and Microsoft sitting side by side with cryptocurrency-focused organizations like talkcrypto.org, CoinFund, and iExec, along with a handful of banks and educational entities.

Currently, the alliance has 200 members, with 48 companies added just this week. Most notably, Hewlett Packard Enterprise joined the group, along with the University of New South Wales.

What’s attracting so many organizations to the group? For one thing, it might come down to what the organization is offering in return: an inside line to an open-source blockchain technology standard that already has a high-profile use case. The technology could prove important in the long run, even if it’s not attached to its namesake currency.

Earlier this year, the group took the mantle of being the world’s largest open-source blockchain initiative, which led board Chairman Julio Faura to highlight the fact that the group filled a need.

“EEA’s rapid growth in membership mirrors the accelerating acceptance and deployment of Ethereum blockchain solutions in the global marketplace,” Faura said in a news release. “The technological breadth, depth, and variety of organizations coming together under the auspices of EEA to create and drive enterprise Ethereum standards bodes well for the future development of the next-generation Ethereum ecosystem.”

Perhaps the most telling sign of this dichotomy is that JPMorgan is a founding member of the group, despite CEO Jamie Dimon representing perhaps one of the most high-profile skeptics of cryptocurrency in its current form. The company this week launched a blockchain-based system for transactions that is said to greatly reduce the steps involved in payment verification.

But even with the success of a group built around Ethereum’s technology, it may not be an easy road ahead, and the underlying technology isn’t immune to hurdles. Earlier this year, for example, a single trade on the Ethereum platform led the value of the currency to drop from $319 to just $0.10 in seconds, leading many traders to lose large amounts of money.

The situation, however, directly led to the creation of safeguards to help prevent this from happening again—the kind of safeguards one might expect from the creation of an open standard.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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