ETHGlobal Waterloo and Unlock Protocol

ETHGlobal Waterloo had everything — building, learning, advice from Vitalik, and a huge tortoise.

By Christopher Carfi on


ETHGlobal Waterloo 2023 was a three-day event that took place from June 23-25 in the heart of Ethereum innovation — Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. ETHGlobal hackathon events are always unique for bringing together seasoned Ethereum developers as well as those new to the space to immerse themselves in hands-on learning, and this weekend was no exception.

There were over 650 participants in the hackathon, and attendees had access to ongoing mentorship and opportunities to connect with ecosystem champions. After 36 hours of hacking, over 160 teams showed off what they built.

Vitalik Buterin kicked off the event as the keynote speaker, and set the tone for an exciting few days of innovation and collaboration.


In his talk, Vitalik discussed the current and future state of Ethereum, as well as challenges and opportunities that he perceives for people getting into the space. The topics included:

  1. Ethereum's Decade of Theory: Vitalik reflects that the last decade has been theoretical for Ethereum, with much of the focus being on solving problems in theory such as switching from proof of work to proof of stake, improving scalability, solving privacy problems, and enhancing security.
  2. Decentralization and Real-World Problems: Vitalik states that the next decade should focus on solving concrete real-world problems. He notes that although many people use Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies today, in many places, the only use people have found for them is for trading digital assets or using centralized exchanges.
  3. Adoption Challenges: Vitalik notes that although crypto adoption is extensive in some areas (like Argentina), most people are interacting with it through centralized systems like Binance due to the low cost, convenience, and protection from user mistakes that these centralized exchanges offer. However, these centralized exchanges can also be untrustworthy, and users may risk losing their assets.
  4. The Promise of Decentralization: The idea behind decentralization is to create systems where users cannot be exploited or "rug-pulled." It aims to provide transparent, programmable rules, giving control and power back to users and communities rather than centralized authorities. However, there are still significant technical challenges to overcome, like scalability and fees.
  5. Scalability and Fees: One major challenge is transaction fees. In the early days of Bitcoin, the pitch was that transaction fees were lower than those of credit cards, which made it attractive. However, as transaction fees increased, this advantage diminished. Vitalik noted that many applications would make sense if transaction fees were low but are not feasible when they're high.
  6. The Future: Vitalik suggests that people should not assume that a category of applications has failed just because it has failed in an environment where setting anything up is expensive. The implication is that if the technical challenges of scalability and fees can be overcome, a vast array of new applications and uses for Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies may become feasible.

You can check out Vitalik’s whole talk here:

The ETHGlobal Waterloo Hackathon

ETHGlobal does hackathons right. Their process is buttoned down, things run on time, and things run smoothly. ETHGlobal Waterloo had over 650 hackers registered, who formed teams and worked together over 36 hours to create some amazing projects. Here were a few of the highlights from teams who built using Unlock Protocol.

Dutch — Winner of $3000 first prize from Unlock Protocol

Learn more about Dutch here:


Dutch is a group expense management dApp and the way to effortlessly settle shared costs after a trip. After everyone has uploaded their post-trip expenses, Dutch optimally computes simplified debts using the fewest transactions between individuals, saving time & gas fees. The Dutch team hacked using Unlock Protocol, Filecoin, Graph Protocol, and more.

Here’s the Dutch team talking about their experience at the hackathon.

Will3 — Winner of $1500 second prize from Unlock Protocol

Learn more about Will3 here:


Will3 is an innovative solution to a very real problem — how to distribute assets (especially digital assets) to designated beneficiaries according to someone's will and wishes, especially in the case where a digital wallet can no longer be accessed.

The ETHGlobal Waterloo hacker team of Melissa, Yicheng, Haoyu, Yvonne, & Maisha created an administration solution integrating Unlock Protocol smart contracts, XMTP notifications, and other components.

Evy — Winner of $500 third prize from Unlock Protocol

Learn more about Evy here:


Evy is an events platform, integrating Unlock Protocol, Eventbrite, Polygon, and Worldcoin. It is a view toward how web3 can build better community and connection with fans across events.

Evy uses Unlock Protocol and WorldID's human verification technology, as well as Eventbrite's developer API for its rich event information. By calling the Eventbrite OAuth login authorization, it retrieves a list of events that you created, and customizes a set of Unlock Protocol smart contracts that can be uploaded to the Polygon blockchain within two minutes based on the description of your event. A crypto payment link is generated and returned to be updated in your event information.

Other fun stuff

In addition to having the practical logistics of the hackathon buttoned down, the ETHGlobal team made sure to bring the food and the fun.

Exhibit A:


Exhibit B:

The ETHGlobal Waterloo hackathon was visited by some animal frens! Meet Gladys the tortoise. She was awesome. (And really likes grapes.)

The Unlock team had an amazing time meeting talking with all the hackers. See you at the next one!