Vitalik Buterin is never one to be shy about his opinions. At a recent conference, he said that centralized exchanges should “go burn in hell as much as possible.”
Ever since cryptocurrency first launched, there has been remarkable tension between centralization and decentralization. On the surface, virtual currencies exist in a decentralized space, but troublesome issues like regulations and legislation force decisions on centralization. Compounding the issue is that people love the Wild West nature of cryptocurrency, but usually only up to the point where a masked bandit shows up and there’s no sheriff in sight.
Vitalik Buterin Doesn’t Hold Back
Speaking at the TechCrunch Sessions: Blockchain conference, Vitalik Buterin was definitely not shy about expressing his opinions. One facet of the conversation that caused Buterin to offer some harsh thoughts was cryptocurrency exchanges.
Buterin expressed his disgust at centralized exchanges like Coinbase charging listing fees in the millions of dollars for a particular token to be listed. To most people, such actions are really just blatant extortion. Not mincing words, Buterin said:
I definitely hope centralized exchanges go burn in hell as much as possible.
A great deal of the discussion focused on centralization versus decentralization in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Buterin mentioned how people in the past freaked out about GHash having 51 percent back in 2013, but the same level of concern has not materialized over Bitmain getting closer to having 51 percent of the hashrate on the Bitcoin blockchain.
A Compromise on Centralization?
An interesting bit of the interview was how Buterin was willing to compromise a bit between the absolutes of centralization and decentralization. He discussed how he works to keep the Ethereum Foundation as decentralized as possible, but he also admitted that there are times when the community wants to go in a different direction.
Vitalik Buterin discussed how user authentication is a major hurdle when it comes to ETH being decentralized. He points out that people losing their keys and not having any other recourse to access their wallets is a huge hurdle. He says:
If all user authentication methods end up failing, it’s going to be hard to reach mainstream adoption.
This is an extremely valid point. As stated above, people love the Wild West nature of cryptocurrency until something goes wrong. As soon as an exchange is hacked, such as Bithumb and Coinrail in South Korea, people begin beseeching authorities to do something.
It’s absolutely true that cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, exists in a free and open space. However, true freedom also means that there’s danger as well in that other people use that freedom to do bad things.
As for Coinbase, they’re looking to do okay despite being bashed by Buterin. While struggling to keep pace with the massive surge in cryptocurrency late last year, the exchange has beefed up its previously lackluster customer service division and cut through 95 percent of their backlog. The exchange is also helping usher in major financial investors through the recent launch of their Coinbase Custody service.
Do you think there needs to be a compromise between centralization and decentralization? Let us know in the comments below.
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