Ether, The Schrödinger's Cat of Cryptocurrencies

Ether, The Schrödinger's Cat of Cryptocurrencies

Mar 04 Tech Standard

The world of cryptocurrency is rife with innovation and complexity, and nowhere is this more evident than with the status of Ether (ETH), the native token of the Ethereum blockchain. This blog dives into the ongoing debate surrounding Ether's legal classification, a question as puzzling as Schrödinger's cat.

The Ether Paradox Commodity, Security, or Something Else Entirely?

Much like the famous thought experiment, Ether's function seems to defy singular categorization. It can be viewed as:

  • Store of Value With over $1.2 trillion in DeFi trading volume in 2022 and a projected smart contract economy of $5 trillion by 2030 (ARK Investment Management), Ether exhibits characteristics of a valuable asset.
  • Consumable Commodity EIP-1559 introduced a "burn" mechanism where Ether is used to pay for network transactions, similar to how gasoline fuels a car.
  • Interest-Bearing Asset Staking allows users to participate in network validation and earn rewards, making Ether an income-generating instrument.

This multi-faceted nature makes it difficult to pin down Ether's legal status. Is it a security requiring specific regulations, or a freely tradable commodity?

The Counterfactual Definiteness of Ether

The crux of the issue lies in how Ether is used. Without clear and defined regulations, the classification hinges on user behavior. This "counterfactual definiteness" creates a situation where the legal status depends on the context in which Ether is employed.

This lack of clarity poses a challenge for policymakers, particularly in the US, where crypto regulation remains undecided.

The Global Landscape

  • US Struggles to define a framework for crypto regulation, leaving the status of Ether in limbo.
  • Switzerland FINMA's initial stance required staking providers to hold banking licenses, suggesting Ether might be viewed as a security.
  • EU Opts for a broader definition of crypto assets, allowing for interpretation based on specific use cases.

The global response highlights the complexity of regulating such a novel asset class.

Solving the Paradox 

Finding a solution likely won't be a quick one. It will require a nuanced approach that acknowledges the evolving nature of the cryptocurrency market. Emerging concepts like liquid staking and derivative tokens promise to further complicate the legal landscape.

As with Schrödinger's cat, the ultimate fate of Ether's legal status rests on interpretation. For US lawmakers, the answer may lie in crafting regulations that can adapt to the ever-changing world of crypto.

About the Author

Jesper Johansen, the founder and CEO of NORTHSTAKE, brings a wealth of experience from traditional finance and blockchain technology to the table. He is a passionate advocate for creating regulatory-compliant crypto staking solutions for institutional investors.


Crafting cinematic stories through the lens of my phone, I am a blogger and content writer who expresses the essence of my blogs through words

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