Beyond Tribalism: The Synergistic Future of Bitcoin and Ethereum

Tribalism has existed for as long as tribes themselves. For as long as humans have been organizing into social groups, we’ve been hating on the group in the next valley. Even though we have much more in common with them than we would care to admit.

It is not surprising therefore that bitcoiners and ethereans should hold a long-standing rivalry. As the largest blockchain ecosystems, each running on distinct architecture and supporting distinct use cases, there are fundamental differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum.

These differences aren’t just technical but also cultural. Just as flora and fauna on Madagascar evolved differently from that on larger land masses, distinct crypto tribes form their own culture, memes, and ideology over time. Eventually, like Montagues and Capulets, they can’t even recall why they disliked one another in the first place.

But it wasn’t always that way: and it doesn’t have to stay this way. There are signs that the rivalry that has polarized bitcoiners and ethereans is starting to thaw. If these frenemies can bury the hatchet and work together, it will make web3 a better place for everyone.

From Divergence to Convergence

It’s easy to forget that Ethereum was born out of Bitcoin. Vitalik Buterin cut his teeth at Bitcoin Magazine and was a regular poster on the Bitcointalk forum. When the Ethereum ICO was held in 2014, funds were raised at a ratio of 2,000 ETH per BTC. It’s also easy to forget that many of the use cases now synonymous with Ethereum have Bitcoin ancestors, such as NFT precursor Colored Coins. Even the concept of a Layer 2 has Bitcoin beginnings. But all that’s ancient history now.

BTC has assumed the mantle of store of value and global reserve currency, while ETH has become the fuel that launched 100 EVM chains and 10,000 tokens. Along the way, the continental drift pushing the two ecosystems apart has been expedited by Ethereum’s move to Proof of Stake, leaving Bitcoin as the only top 20 coin aside from DOGE still wedded to Proof of Work.

While the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum are stark, they are not irreconcilable. One of the most fascinating aspects of the chains’ evolving use cases is the way in which each has emulated the other. Ethereum is well on its way to becoming a somewhat stable store of value of its own, and looks poised to follow Bitcoin in receiving an ETF.

Bitcoin, meanwhile, has belatedly spawned its own multi-chain and multi-token ecosystem thanks to Ordinals, BRC20, Runes, Stacks, and similar protocols. Bitcoin-native DeFi and NFTs are now a thing – even if most maximalists aren’t on board. While it remains to be seen whether Bitcoin DeFi takes off, it’s clear that there’s now more that unites the two chains than divides them. Bitcoin and Ethereum have moved in opposing directions over the years but their paths are finally starting to converge.

Choose Tech, Not Tribalism

Rather than arguing over whose tech trumps whose, or who implemented it first, there are clear benefits to the Bitcoin and Ethereum communities setting aside their differences. Just as globalism diminished petty tribalism (even if we simply swapped hating the guy in the next valley for hating internet strangers), the multi-chain era has rendered blockchain wars pointless.

Bitcoin and Ethereum are no longer isolated islands but interconnected hubs that routinely exchange value through bridges, portals, and wrappers. Isn’t it time they started swapping developer talent too? The onus is on builders to find ways that both technology stacks can enhance one another. This is the key to scaling web3 and growing adoption.

The rise of Ordinals has shown there is strong interest in utilizing the Bitcoin network as more than simply a means to store value. But building out further utility natively is complex since the network is not Turing complete by nature and its simplistic UTXO model and limited block space cannot handle complex data and calculations.

While there have been many avenues explored for scaling Bitcoin, they all relied on a level of centralization until the Taproot upgrade which brought Schnorr Signature and MAST contracts. These upgrades have made it possible to design fully trustless bridges between the Bitcoin ecosystem and other networks, allowing for truly decentralized scaling solutions to be realized.

The Ethereum ecosystem is already home to a robust suite of tools, smart contracts and applications that can be utilized to bring further compatibility and functionality to Bitcoin. It makes far more sense for Bitcoin to inherit the technology that already exists for certain functions rather than rebuild them from the ground up.

Scale Bitcoin, Enhance Ethereum

An obvious solution to scaling Bitcoin at the consumer level and building out new use cases is to utilize the functionality enabled by Taproot to create trustless bridges between Bitcoin and EVM-compatible networks. This can create a wave of new opportunities for both ecosystems by unlocking new ways for Bitcoin holders to engage while increasing the liquidity within Ethereum-based chains.

While the possibility of utilizing EVM-compatible technology to scale the Bitcoin ecosystem is promising, perhaps the biggest challenge to overcome will not be technological but cultural. While human ingenuity is boundless, our tendency to drag one another down like a bucket of crabs remains deeply ingrained.

All crypto communities should strive to shun the cutthroat behaviors web2 was built on and find ways to collaborate. Only once this is done can web3 realize its full potential. As Biggie put it, “Can’t we just all get along?”

This is a guest post by Yves La Rose. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.