How WorldCoin Could Crash Due to Ethereum Vulnerabilities

Ethereum vulnerabilities could cause more than just a blip for WorldCoin. Join us as we unravel the potential implications in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

How WorldCoin Could Crash Due to Ethereum Vulnerabilities
Bank Run

In the realm of traditional finance, the term "bank run" paints a picture of panic, as customers rush to withdraw their funds from a bank they fear is on the brink of insolvency. Such occurrences have marked some of the most turbulent times in financial history, often accelerating economic downturns and leading to wide-scale financial reforms.

Fast forward to the age of blockchain and cryptocurrency, where finance has taken a turn towards decentralization. Here, we find ourselves exploring the idea of a bank run in a new and intriguing context - the Ethereum blockchain.

While Ethereum, underpinned by its Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, doesn't hold direct parallels to a traditional bank, it serves as a financial hub in the crypto world where value is stored, transferred, and staked. But could such a decentralized network experience its version of a "bank run"? And if so, what would that mean for Ethereum, and more importantly, for the multitude of Layer 2 projects and tokens, such as Worldcoin's $WLD, which rely on Ethereum's stability?

In this blog post, we'll delve into the concept of bank runs and the mechanics of Ethereum and its Proof of Stake consensus mechanism. We'll explore the possibility of a "bank run" scenario in the Ethereum network, its potential triggers, and the implications it could have on Layer 2 projects and their respective tokens.

Understanding Bank Runs

A. What is a Bank Run?

To put it simply, a bank run occurs when a large number of customers lose faith in a bank's stability and rush to withdraw their money simultaneously. This usually happens when the customers believe that the bank may become insolvent, which essentially means that the bank won't be able to cover its debts or, in other words, return the customers' money.

But, you might wonder, don't banks have all our money in their vaults? The answer is - not exactly. Banks operate on the principle of fractional reserve banking, which means they keep only a fraction of the total deposits as cash and lend the rest out. This system works smoothly when customers' inflows and outflows are staggered.

However, during a bank run, when many customers come to withdraw their money at the same time, banks might struggle to provide the requested cash, causing a liquidity crisis.

B. Factors Triggering Bank Runs

Several triggers can lead to a bank run. Here are the common ones:

  1. Rumors or News Reports: Unverified rumors or certain news reports about a bank's financial health can create panic among depositors, prompting them to withdraw their funds.
  2. Economic Downturn: In periods of economic instability, people are more likely to worry about their bank's stability. This fear can set off a bank run.
  3. Decline in a Bank's Stock Price: A sudden fall in a bank's stock price can be perceived as a sign of the bank's poor financial health, leading to a bank run.

C. The Effects and Potential Impacts of a Bank Run on an Economy

A bank run is more than just a problem for the bank and its customers; it can pose a significant threat to the economy at large.

  1. Loss of Customer Deposits: If a bank collapses, customers may lose their deposits, which can be devastating, especially for people who lose their life savings.
  2. Credit Crunch: Banks play a crucial role in the economy by lending money to businesses for their operations and expansion. However, during a bank run, when banks are struggling to return deposits, their ability to lend can be severely hampered, leading to a 'credit crunch'. This lack of credit can slow down economic growth significantly.
  3. Contagion Effect: A bank run can also create a domino effect. If one bank faces a run, it can shake the confidence in other banks too, leading to multiple bank runs, escalating the situation from a crisis for a single bank to a full-blown banking sector or even a financial crisis.

Understanding bank runs in the traditional financial world is a crucial step before exploring a similar concept in the decentralized finance world of Ethereum and Layer 2 projects. In the next section, we'll look at Ethereum and its Proof of Stake mechanism in more detail.

List of bank runs - Wikipedia

III. Diving into Ethereum and Proof of Stake

A. Ethereum: The Decentralized Supercomputer

Ethereum, often considered as the world's decentralized supercomputer, is a blockchain-based platform designed to enable developers to build and deploy smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps).

The brainchild of programmer Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum has been instrumental in the popularization of blockchain technology beyond just a medium of exchange, like Bitcoin.

Ether (ETH), the native cryptocurrency of Ethereum, serves as 'fuel' for these smart contracts and dApps, making the Ethereum network a vibrant ecosystem of developers and users. From facilitating decentralized finance (DeFi) to launching virtual goods through non-fungible tokens (NFTs), Ethereum has profoundly shaped the landscape of the crypto world.

B. Unpacking Proof of Stake (PoS)

One of the transformative elements of Ethereum is its shift from Proof of Work (PoW) to Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. But what does that mean?

In simple terms, both PoS and PoW are ways for blockchains to confirm transactions and add them to the public ledger. In PoW, like Bitcoin, miners solve complex mathematical puzzles to validate transactions and create new blocks. It's competitive, energy-intensive, and whoever solves the problem first gets the reward.

On the other hand, PoS chooses validators to create new blocks based on the number of cryptocurrency tokens they hold and are willing to 'stake' as collateral. These validators are then rewarded for validating transactions. PoS is less energy-intensive, arguably more secure, and potentially allows for more transactions to be processed.

C. Ethereum's Transition to PoS

The shift of Ethereum to PoS happened via the 'Ethereum 2.0' upgrade in September 2022, marking a significant milestone in the Ethereum timeline. This was no minor tweak but a fundamental change aimed at making Ethereum more scalable, secure, and sustainable.

Given the complex nature of such a transition, the shift required both extensive technical support from the Ethereum Foundation and immense coordination within the Ethereum community. The successful transition has not only boosted the Ethereum network's capacity but also further validated the potential of PoS consensus mechanisms in blockchain technology.

This monumental transition is expected to have profound implications on Ethereum's ability to scale and cater to more users, potentially paving the way for greater adoption of Ethereum-based dApps and innovations like Layer 2 projects. As we move forward, we'll discuss the idea of bank runs in the context of Ethereum and its potential impact on Layer 2 projects like $WLD.

IV. The Possibility of a Bank Run in Ethereum

A. Traditional Bank Runs vs. Ethereum "Bank Runs"

In a traditional bank run, depositors rush to withdraw their funds simultaneously, out of fear that the bank may run out of cash reserves. It's a crisis of confidence that can lead to the bank's insolvency, causing widespread financial distress.

In the context of Ethereum, a "bank run" might look different. The concept of a "run" could apply to the rapid withdrawal of staked Ether (ETH) from the network, potentially destabilizing the platform's security and causing a dramatic drop in ETH price. However, unlike traditional banks, Ethereum operates on a decentralized and transparent blockchain network, which theoretically makes a "bank run" less likely.

B. Ethereum's Unique Characteristics and Bank Runs

Ethereum's characteristics – decentralization, transparency, and security – could significantly influence the likelihood of a "bank run."

Decentralization: Ethereum's decentralized nature distributes the power and control among its network participants, thereby reducing the risk of a single point of failure. In a traditional banking scenario, the bank is a centralized entity that controls the deposits and withdrawals, thus susceptible to a bank run. On Ethereum, the staking process is distributed among numerous validators, making a coordinated mass withdrawal more complex.

But decentralization also makes mass withdrawals harder to stop once started!

Transparency: Blockchain's inherent transparency ensures that all transactions and staking activities are visible to all participants. This transparency can help build trust among network participants and provide early signals if large amounts of ETH are being unstaked.

At the same time, this transparency may also serve as fuel into the ongoing fire of a mass withdawal of ETHs!

Security: Ethereum's PoS mechanism makes the network more secure by requiring validators to stake a significant amount of ETH. If a "bank run" were to occur, validators withdrawing their stakes would risk losing potential earnings from transaction validations.

But, if at the time, the choice is between saving the "principal" amount of investment, i.e., money in ETH, and earning "interest" in the form of staking rewards, people may favor the former!

C. Potential Triggers and Outcomes of an Ethereum Bank Run

The possibility of a bank run on Ethereum could be triggered by various factors such as market volatility, security incidents, centralization of staked ETH or some black swan event. The outcomes could be severe, including a dramatic drop in ETH price or the destabilization of Ethereum's security.

For instance, a few years ago, when the price of ETH started to drop significantly after a death hoax of Vitalik Buterin, he had to give proof-of-life before ETH could stabalize again.

Proof-of-Life: Vitalik Buterin Uses Ethereum to Disprove Death Hoax
Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin was at the center of a debunked story suggesting that he had died this weekend.

However, Ethereum's unique characteristics and the implementation of safeguards like withdrawal limits and exit queues make such a scenario challenging.

D. Concentration of Staked ETH

A report from Nansen raises concerns about the concentration of staked ETH, with 64% of staked ETH controlled by just five entities. The report underscores the need for platforms like Lido to ensure sufficient decentralization to resist censorship. Currently, the top nine addresses (excluding the treasury) hold about 46% of governance power, presenting a potential risk of centralization.

However, it's important to note that the Ethereum community recognizes these risks and is proactively seeking solutions to mitigate them. Measures like dual governance and a distributed validator set are proposed to alleviate the risk of over-centralization.

64% of staked ETH controlled by 5 entities — Nansen
Blockchain analysis firm Nansen delves into the distribution of staked ETH as Ethereum’s Merge draws closer.

Concerns of a mass sell-off after the Shanghai upgrade enabling ETH withdrawals are considered unwarranted by Nansen. Withdrawals can only happen 6 to 12 months post-merge, and not everyone can withdraw their stake at once due to the exit queue mechanism in place. Thus, the possibility of a bank run on Ethereum, while theoretically conceivable, at the moment, seems unlikely due to these and other protective mechanisms.

The Impact of ETH Value Decrease on Layer 2 Projects and Tokens

A. Relationship between ETH Value and Layer 2 Projects

Layer 2 projects are built on top of the Ethereum blockchain to increase scalability and performance. They derive their security and decentralization from Ethereum's Layer 1. Therefore, the value of Ethereum (ETH) indirectly influences the Layer 2 projects.

The value of ETH can affect Layer 2 projects in multiple ways. For one, the price of ETH impacts the cost of gas fees required for transactions on Layer 2 solutions.

When ETH value is high, gas fees also rise, making it more expensive for users to interact with Layer 2 protocols. Conversely, a decrease in ETH value could lower transaction costs and potentially boost Layer 2 project usage.

B. Possible Impact of a Drop in ETH Value on Layer 2 Tokens like $WLD

Layer 2 tokens, such as $WLD, can be affected by a decrease in the value of ETH. $WLD and other Layer 2 tokens often rely on Ethereum for liquidity, security, and user base. A drop in the value of ETH could decrease the overall market sentiment in the Ethereum ecosystem, leading to potential value loss for Layer 2 tokens.

However, it's important to note that while Layer 2 tokens are associated with Ethereum, they also have their own independent factors impacting their value. These factors include the specific utility of the token, the performance and adoption of the Layer 2 solution, and the overall market sentiment towards cryptocurrencies.

C. Variance in Impacts on Different Layer 2 Projects

The impact of a decrease in ETH value can vary across different Layer 2 projects based on several factors:

  • Nature of the Project: The impact can depend on the nature of the Layer 2 project. For instance, projects offering low-cost alternatives to Ethereum's high gas fees might see increased adoption if the value of ETH drops significantly.
  • Community and Ecosystem: The strength and engagement of the project's community can also determine its resilience to external shocks. Projects with robust communities may withstand market fluctuations better.
  • Independent Value Proposition: Layer 2 projects with strong, independent value propositions may be less affected by a drop in ETH value. For example, a Layer 2 project that effectively addresses scalability issues may maintain its attractiveness despite market fluctuations.
  • Market Sentiment: Market sentiment plays a crucial role in the impact on Layer 2 projects. Negative market sentiment towards Ethereum can spill over to Layer 2 projects and tokens, potentially leading to a decrease in value.

In conclusion, while Layer 2 projects are inherently linked to Ethereum, they also possess their own unique dynamics.


In this blog post, we've covered a range of topics. We started by defining the concept of a bank run, both in traditional finance and in the context of the Ethereum blockchain. We then delved into the core characteristics of Ethereum, discussing its unique proposition in the crypto world and the transition to Proof of Stake consensus.

We explored the potential for a bank run on Ethereum, drawing parallels between traditional bank runs and potential triggers and outcomes in the decentralized finance space. We touched upon the significant concentration of staked ETH, which presents its own unique challenges and risks.

Lastly, we examined the relationship between the value of ETH and Layer 2 projects and tokens, such as $WLD, discussing how a drop in ETH value could impact these Layer 2 ecosystems and the factors that could cause variances in these impacts.

Final Thoughts

The potential for a bank run on Ethereum, while complex and multi-faceted, is a topic worthy of attention and discussion. The concentration of staked ETH presents potential risks, and the impact on Layer 2 projects and tokens can be significant. However, the inherent transparency, security, and decentralization of Ethereum, combined with active measures by the community, provide checks and balances against such events.