Ethereum’s visionary co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, has commented on the obstacles on the roadmap to Ethereum 2.0 at a conference in Hong Kong.

Speaking partly in Mandarin at the Virtual Fintech Forum at this week’s StartmeupHK Festival 2021, Buterin said that technology wasn’t the major issue with the world’s largest smart contract network.

He admitted that building Ethereum has taken a lot more time than he had anticipated, with early Eth1 blockchain build estimates of around three months turning into 18 months in reality. The upgraded version is taking substantially longer.

“We thought it would take one year to do the proof-of-stake, but it actually takes six years. If you are doing a complex thing that you think will take a while, it’s actually very likely to take a lot more time.”

Buterin added that there had been a number of internal team conflicts in the five years it has taken Ethereum to get to where it is today. “One of the biggest problems I’ve found with our project is not the technical problems — it’s problems related with people,” he said.

The comments came in a fireside chat with Jehan Chu, co-founder and managing partner at Hong Kong-based blockchain investment and trading firm Kenetic.

Buterin stated that Eth2 will be able to have the kind of scalability that the large-scale enterprise applications expect when rollups and sharding are combined. However, that is unlikely to occur before late 2022 per the latest roadmap estimates.

The two chains will merge, or dock, in late 2021 or early 2022, according to the official documentation, which states:

“Originally, the plan was to work on shard chains before the merge — to address scalability. However, with the boom of layer two scaling solutions, the priority has shifted to swapping Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake via the merge.”

Phase One, which introduces scalability through sharding, is not expected until later in 2022 at this stage.

Buterin said the current version of Ethereum has largely become a victim of its own success, with demand pushing network fees to record levels, making the majority of transactions economically unviable for the average user.

On the topic of Eth2, Buterin said that they are using that moniker less frequently because the team wanted to emphasize that “this isn’t throwing out the existing Ethereum platform and making a totally new one. It’s a much more, kind of, incremental set of changes.”

The upgrade to proof-of-stake has become even more urgent recently with all of the negativity and FUD surrounding Bitcoin (BTC) and its power consumption.

The proof-of-work Ethereum blockchain consumes the energy equivalent of Hong Kong, according to Digiconomist. Comparatively, the new proof-of-stake network will use around 99.95% less energy.