"I'm concerned a lot of these token models aren't going to be sustainable," Buterin said in a rare interview last week at the Ethereum Developers Conference in Cancun, Mexico.
So what's the problem? There's a hard limit -- 21 million coins -- on the supply of bitcoin, the first successful cryptocurrency, that helps underpin its value. Buterin isn't mulling a cap like that, but he's intrigued by the idea of imposing fees on applications built atop ethereum. Those fees would destroy -- or burn, in Buterin's parlance -- ether tokens over time.
"If the token is being burned, then you have an economic model that says the value of the token is the net present value of basically all future burnings," he said. Otherwise, "it's just a currency that goes up and down. It feels kind of like voodoo economics and the price of the token isn't really backed by anything," Buterin added. "That's a very spooky thing."
Reminded that he created such a coin himself, he said going forward that could change. "It's a fact that's definitely informing a lot of design choices," Buterin said. "Introducing some kind of sinks into ethereum is definitely something we're looking at," he said. "By sinks, I mean fees that lead to the token actually being destroyed."