Ethereum can be thought of as a blockchain-based decentralized computer. While Bitcoin (BTC) was created as a money experiment, Ethereum was designed as a platform for decentralized applications (DApps). In developing it, the founders of the network accepted the loss of some technological efficiency in order to achieve the more trustworthy environment that the blockchain brings with it.
The Ethereum ecosystem consists of a network of developers, entrepreneurs, and investors who support the platform, and Ether (ETH), the platform’s home currency. Ether is the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, only surpassed by Bitcoin. The purpose of Ether is to act as both a cryptocurrency and a fuel to support the Ethereum network – for example through fees.
The price of Ether has continued to rise over the years as blockchain projects pour into the Ethereum network to expand their platforms. The larger the use case of the Ethereum protocol, the higher the price of ether seems to rise. One use case in particular, decentralized finance (DeFi), has exploded since the 2020 boom as users seek to increase their returns through lending, productive farming, and other activities. Meanwhile, the Total Value Locked (TVL), which reflects the size of the market segment, has skyrocketed on the Ethereum network.
Introduction to Ethereum
Dubbed a global supercomputer, Ethereum builds on the idea of the Bitcoin network but takes a sharp turn by adding functionality to a base layer. This allows developers to build on what they have done in a variety of ways about protocols such as side chains in support of interchain interactions or interoperability. Ethereum gives developers the opportunity to build on a different type of platform – one that is trustworthy, decentralized, and touted as the New Internet or Web 3.0.
Ethereum’s secret weapon are smart contracts, which play a crucial role in internet transactions. The Ethereum whitepaper describes a smart contract as “a piece of code that implements arbitrary rules”. This basically means computer code written by everyone on the blockchain that not only sets the terms of the contract, but also has the ability to automatically enforce those terms.
Many of the hottest craziness in the cryptocurrency scene has taken place on Ethereum, including Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), Stablecoins, DApps, DeFi, and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).
Ethereum was conceived in 2013 at the young age of 19 by the Russian-Canadian computer programmer Vitalik Buterin. 2014 was also a key year for the project when Buterin first bonded with his other seven co-founders and Ethereum grew up $ 18 million in a crowdfunding campaign that demonstrated community support for the project.
The mining network would not be released until July 30, 2015 and smart contracts could be executed on the platform. Buterin didn’t go alone as Ethereum has a deep bank of co-founders, some of whom have since launched successful decentralized projects themselves. They include:
- Gavin wood
- Anthony Di Lorio
- Charles Hoskinson
- Mihai Alisie
- Joseph Lubin
- Amir Chetrit
- Jeffrey Wilcke
The Ethereum network is secured by nodes – around 20,000 of them worldwide. Anyone can operate a node by bringing their computing power to the network. Ethereum currently uses a Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm designed to protect the integrity of the network and ward off attacks. This algorithm also determines the level of difficulty and the rules by which the miners do their work.
The number of nodes is expected to increase significantly as Ethereum moves from a PoW consensus algorithm to a proof-of-stake (PoS) designed to make it easier for participants to validate transactions and secure the network. The more nodes there are, the greater the trust that results from decentralization, as the nodes can ensure that no manipulation takes place in the network. As long as at least 50% of the system participants are honest, the network can overcome attempts at manipulation.
supply and demand
While Bitcoin has a limited supply of 21 million coins, Ethereum has taken a different approach. Despite a 2018 Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) submitted by Buterin to limit the number of coins to 120 million, there is no upper limit on the entire ETH offering – a proposal that has not yet been approved. However, there is an annual limit.
According to the Ethereum Foundation, ETH will be issued “via the block mining process at a constant annual linear rate,” 0.3 times the total ETH purchased in the 2014 crowdfunding campaign. If you consider that around 60 million ETH were spent in advance sales, no more than 18 million ETH can be spent per year. However, this annual amount can be spent indefinitely.
Despite the fact that the ETH supply will keep increasing, the rate at which the supply increases will decrease over time due to the fixed nature of the issue of the coin. As a result, ether is not considered an inflationary asset; on the contrary, it fits a disinflationary currency, which means that its inflation will subside over time.
Thanks to Ether’s status as one of the top two cryptocurrencies, buying ETH isn’t too difficult. Large crypto exchanges like Coinbase, Binance, Kraken, Gemini, Huobi, FTX, Bitfinex and many more offer countless trading pairs with ETH, from ETH / BTC to ETH / USD and beyond. Additionally, many of the mainstream payment platforms expanding into cryptocurrencies support Ether transactions, including PayPal and Shopify, to name a few.