The Ethereum (ETH) network is going through another period of heightened activity, following a temporary low for gas usage in February. The Etherscan data for gas fees show a significant growth of usage in the past month.
On Thursday, gas usage was near 100% of the block limit, meaning the network was near capacity. The price of gas was slightly higher, 7 gWei for the fastest transactions. Based on ETH Gas Station, an unidentified smart contract burns up to 18% of all gas.
There are many reasons for increased gas usage, going beyond the movement of ETH coins themselves. Peak gas usage was noted during the rapid bull market at the end of 2017, as well as during 2018, which was a bumper year for token sales. Almost daily ICO offerings meant constant increases in gas usage.
But there are other, more obscure reasons for peak gas usage. One of the possibilities is distributed app activity, especially games of the FOMO3D type, which require gas to place bets. In general, Ethereum-based distributed apps have a low number of users, but some projects become temporary leaders in gas consumption.
There are also possibilities to deliberately pay high gas fees with a high gas price, to hide the origins of funds. On rare occasions, a block sees significant fees, far above the usual block reward. Currently, Ethereum miners receive 2 ETH per block, after the Constantinople hard fork came into force on February 28.
Ethereum mining, however, has slowed down somewhat in the past three months, stagnating around 148 TH/s. In the future, the network’s hashrate may fall further if an ASIC-resistant update is activated. For now, the ProgPoW protocol that would hamper ASIC miners has been accepted only in principle.
ETH market prices remain stable, at around $140.04 as of 11:30 UTC on Thursday. The asset remains one of the most important for the general liquidity on cryptocurrency markets, as it participates in multiple altcoin pairs.