The Ethereum hard fork will be a major driver of the cryptocurrency’s continuing rally, according to one blockchain expert.

Tech expert Ian McLeod of art-tech agency Thomas Crown Art said that Ethereum’s price will “continue to soar” throughout 2019, following its resurgence over the last month.

On 15 December, Ethereum fell to a low of $83.15. But the Ethereum hard fork, referred to as Constantinople, will see the platform’s code modified and improved.

Some may continue to use the old chain while others will switch to the new chain – hence the term ‘hard fork‘.

“The hard fork will mean Ethereum miner rewards fall from three ether to two and decrease the block time, resulting in a faster network,” explained McLeod.

“This is a key part of a major Ethereum upgrade and the markets are excited.”

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It is expected to take place on 16 January, once miners reach block number 7,080,000.

“There’s a possibility the date of the hard fork might be pushed back a little, but traders are managing this into expectations,” McLeod added.

Ethereum hard fork will not be the only driver

Bitcoin and XRP have rallied since the start of the year following a tumultuous 2018 for cyryptocurrencies.

“The bulls are back in town,” said McLeod, who expects 2019 to “be dominated by a considerably more bullish sentiment than in 2018 across the major digital assets”, but believes Ethereum will be the “standout winner”.

“Ethereum has made a bullish move and broke the $125.00 resistance – giving the crypto naysayers and doom-mongers a robust signal that this digital currency is on the upward trajectory once again.”

In addition to the Ethereum hard fork, McLeod believes that oracles – data feeds that deliver information into the smart contract from third parties – will also drive adoption of Ethereum smart contracts.

“This is because smart contracts using decision-making on real-world metrics can be expected to find relevant use cases among consumers, firms, and organisations, amongst others,” he said.

“And, of course, as adoption and utility of Ethereum smart contracts increase, so will Ethereum’s price.”

Thomas Crown Art is one example of a company employing Ethereum smart contracts, allowing artists, collectors and galleries to new works of art as a “store of value” by authenticating artwork on a distributed ledger.

“The sentiment data and technical analysis suggests that Ethereum’s rally, to be fuelled further by the hard fork, will continue in the short to medium term.

“It is likely that this will positively impact on the rest of the cryptocurrency sector.”

Read more: Could the Ethereum Classic attack happen to other blockchain networks?