Last year and this year may have had hundreds of bitcoin forks, but Ethereum is about to get its own hard fork. The fork, which was announced on January 6th on the EtherZero official Weibo page, will be making use of a snapshot of the Ethereum network that occurred on January 19th.

So, what is EtherZero, and should you care about it?

Read on as we dig into this highly unusual, and strangely suspicious Ethereum fork.

EtherZero: Made in China

While the official website does not explicitly say so, there is extensive evidence indicating that EtherZero is originating from mainland China. At present, the official website is only available in English (with numerous errors and mistakes) and in simplified Chinese, the standard language of mainland China. Additionally, the site links to Chinese language chat groups on mainland China-based social media applications, WeChat, and QQ.

We took a look inside the WeChat group and found just under 350 members. However, no one appeared to be saying anything. There do not appear to be any officially endorsed English language chat groups or rooms linked on the official page or Weibo profile.

Additionally, on the official website, the developers forgot to translate one section, which is the heading for the exchanges portion.

Untranslated website of EtherZero
Untranslated heading on EtherZero’s English page

What Is EtherZero Offering?

Official sources claim that there are a number of differences between EtherZero and standard Ethereum. For example, the block time will be reduced to 10 seconds, there will supposedly be no transaction fees, there will be a feature called “instant pay”, and EtherZero claims that it will support master nodes at some point. To qualify for a master node, you will need to have 20,000 EtherZero units.

Individuals who hold Ethereum at the time of the heart fork snapshot will be given EtherZero at a 1 to 1 ratio. However, the total supply of EtherZero units will be roughly double that of Ethereum.

So where are all these additional units going? The official FAQ states:
“The initial total supply is about 194 million ETZ. Each ETH holder receives 1 ETZ for each 1 ETH , total 97 million ETZ, and another 97 million ETZ is reserved for late development and foundation operation by the team.”

In other words, the developers of this fork will be keeping an unbelievable 50% of all units. This would be the same as if when Satoshi Nakamoto created bitcoin, he kept 10 1/2 million of them for himself as soon as he launched the platform.

While Bitcoin Gold developers were accused of greed for their pre-mine of their fork currency, the amount of pre-mined units pales in comparison to what the developers of EtherZero want to claim for themselves.

The EtherZero Weibo page
The EtherZero Weibo page

What Is The (Stated) Goal Of The Project?

Putting aside our suspicions of this just being a massive cash grab, based solely on the fact that the developer is going to claim half of all units right from the start, EtherZero claims to have a few project goals. Primarily, their stated goals are to support DAPP development through the use of a masternode based system that would theoretically allow for a high transaction throughput, as well as offer free transactions.

The project also mentions a feature it calls “instant payment”. Presumably, this is an attempt to leverage masternodes to produce an instant transaction effect similar to what Dash offers. While this sounds noble enough, it’s still very difficult to get past the developer wanting to claim half of all units that will ever exist.

Extract from EtherZero Webpage

Completely Anonymous Development

Etherzero Development Team
Who is behind the project?

While bitcoin gold and bitcoin cash had a development team that was out in the open, EtherZero appears to have no information whatsoever about who is behind this fork. This further raises suspicions about the goals of the project.

In the white paper, there is a section which is left over for describing who the team is. However, there is so little information and widespread use of pseudonyms and nicknames that there is simply no way anyone could identify who these people are.

The company lists the CEO as “Gary Lou”. According to the white paper:

Continuous entrepreneurs, dropping out of college and found startup, has engaged in Internet marketing, shareware, mobile games and cryptocurrency, responsible for the development and operation of several tokens and DAPP. The project leader in the concept of EtherZero design, development direction, leading EtherZero to become a common DAPP development platform in 5-10 years.

Again, there is no further information available, and we have no way of knowing who this “Gary” really is. There are no photographs, linked social media pages, or really anything that is verifiable. Gary Lou might as well be John Doe.

Because the cryptocurrency world lends itself to so many opportunities for fraud, most reputable projects are extremely transparent about who is behind their projects. EtherZero ideally should be no exception. However, it is obvious that they are intentionally hiding the identities of who is behind this.

This is quite similar to another Chinese hard fork that went live last year, Bitcoin Diamond. Bitcoin Diamond’s team also refused to identify who was behind it. Many have also suspected that Bitcoin Diamond was just a cash grab and not a serious attempt at developing a real cryptocurrency.

Conclusions

While it’s always tempting to think about getting what is essentially free money through hard forks, there are just too many red flags in this project for it to be trustworthy. At least not yet. The fact that EtherZero comes from China is not a problem.

There are a number of highly successful and trustworthy cryptocurrency projects and related companies that come from this part of the world. What is a problem is that the developers want to pre-claim 50% of all the tokens. They also apparently refuse to identify themselves in a clear and transparent way.

Therefore, we suggest that those interested in EtherZero wait for several months after the fork before attempting to either claim EtherZero units or get involved in the ecosystem. And even then, great caution should be taken, and everyone should do their due diligence before getting involved.

Featured Image via Bitcointalk.org

Posted by Editorial Team

Editors at large. Posting the latest news, reviews and analysis to hit the blockchain.