What is Ethereum
Ethereum has adapted and developed the concept of the blockchain used by Bitcoin to create an altogether new technology. It was created to be able to do a lot more than Bitcoin and has given the blockchain a new purpose as opposed to just peer to peer cash. Ethereum allows developers to create and deploy decentralized applications (DApps) using the Ethereum blockchain.
Ether is the store of value used within the Ethereum platform. Ether can be used as a currency and also to pay for transaction fees and services within the eco-system. The same peer to peer method of exchange that Bitcoin offers can also be achieved using Ethereum using Ether, but Ethereum takes the concept a whole lot further.
What is a Decentralized Application?
“A Decentralized application runs on a custom built blockchain, an enormously powerful shared global infrastructure that can move value around and represent the ownership of property.
This enables developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract) and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middleman or counterparty risk.” Official Site
A decentralized application is favoured over traditional applications because there can be no single point of failure or control. The distributed nature of the blockchain means that any existing service or application can be improved and made better using Ethereum by making it decentralized.
Ethereum has allowed for the possibility of a third party decentralized network which previously would have been difficult, if not impossible for any single company or organisation to create. This puts hundreds of industries at risk of being completely disrupted by this newer and fairer system.
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What is an Ethereum Smart Contract?
A smart contract is is an agreement between two or more parties in which the terms of the agreement are written into the lines of code which make up the contract. This information is then stored on the distributed ledger known as the blockchain. Smart contracts allow agreements to settled in a ‘trustless’ manner between parties who do not need to know each other and are able to remain anonymous.
Smart contract were first proposed by Nick Szabo in 1994. Nick Szabo was one of the original members of the cypherpunks who were the first users of Bitcoin, and potentially those who helped to create Bitcoin. Nixk Szabo is in fact rumoured to be Satoshi Nakamoto himself.
Ethereum Platform & Uses
One of the main things the platform is used for at the moment is for organisations to run Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s). An ICO is a new way of crwodfunding, where instead of selling shares in a company to raise capital, cryptocurrency tokens are sold instead.
“Create a tradeable digital token that can be used as a currency, a representation of an asset, a virtual share, a proof of membership or anything at all. These tokens use a standard coin API so your contract will be automatically compatible with any wallet, other contract or exchange also using this standard.
The total amount of tokens in circulation can be set to a simple fixed amount or fluctuate based on any programmed ruleset.”
Ethereum enables anyone to create a new cryptocurrency on the platform. New tokens of this nature are knows as ERC-20 tokens. We reported recently that Coinbase will soon be adding support for ERC-20 tokens.
“Using Ethereum, you can create a contract that will hold a contributor’s money until any given date or goal is reached. Depending on the outcome, the funds will either be released to the project owners or safely returned back to the contributors. All of this is possible without requiring a centralized arbitrator, clearinghouse or having to trust anyone.”
2017 saw an enormous rise in the number of ICO’s being launched, with record amounts being raised. Check out our ICO page to find ongoing and upcoming ICO’s.
What is Ethereum’s Competition?
Although they were first out the gate when it comes to decentralised applications and ICO’s, there are now many other similar platforms offering similar services such as NEO. NEO allows projects to build and develop their own NEP5 Tokens and decentralized applications.
Another similar project is EOS. They’re a fairly new project and although the main net is not yet live, they have ambitious plans to become better. EOS vs Ethereum.
What kind of applications are being built on Ethereum?
There are thousands of ongoing projects currently in development on the platform. Many launched with an ICO, some did not, but all are ambitiously attempting to take on some of the world’s leading mega corporations and displace them with their better decentralized services.
Because almost any application can be built on top of their blockchain, there are no limits to what people are building!
Projects such as OmiseGo who’re creating their own blockchain banking systems are springing up constantly, services offering fairer loans, insurance services, product tracking, messaging app rewards, future market prediction markets like Augur and more. The Brazilian government are even looking into using Ethereum to improve their voting system. You can view the full directory of decentralized applications being built on the Ethereum platform here.
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