Ethereum(ETH) is a universal tool for running decentralized applications powered by smart contracts. The Ether cryptocurrency is the unit of exchange within the ecosystem. The project was first described by the founder of Bitcoin Magazine Vitalik Buterin at the end of 2013. The network was brought into existence on July 30, 2015 by him and several other blockchain developers. Some of them then left the project to create their own companies and products, like Charlis Hoskinon’s Cardano and Gavin Wood’s Polkadot.
Ethereum is usually perceived as Bitcoin 2.0 because it is the world's second-largest cryptocurrency. However, it may not be entirely fair to think this way because Ethereum is primarily designed to be a virtual machine for decentralized applications of various sorts. The main value of the Ethereum network is not crypto coins, but the capabilities of the platform. All sorts of blockchain projects, called dApps are launched on the basis of Ethereum: from lending/borrowing protocols to play-to-earn games. Most of these projects are open source.
The main technology lying behind dApps is called Smart Contracts. It is a computer algorithm designed to implement and maintain self-executing operations on the blockchain. Self-executing means that after the smart contract is written and placed on the blockchain, third parties cannot interrupt it or change the rules it is based on. In other words, a smart contract is a means of exchanging value without intermediaries. The interaction with a smart contract is governed by the code, not some physical entity. This allows you to be sure that the rules will not suddenly change in one moment.
One of the most pressing issues surrounding Ethereum at the moment is its high transaction commissions. You can easily pay for a swap of your coins 100$ or more. These high commissions are a result of the overload of the network: there are simply too many people using the network and the miners are not able to process all the created transactions. The developers of Ethereum are already working on a big update to the network named Ethereum 2.0. The main difference between the current state of the network and its second stage is the transition from the Proof-of-work consensus algorithm to the Proof-of-stake one.
Ethereum is the second cryptocurrency by market capitalization. It is listed on almost all crypto exchanges available on the market. At the end of 2021 its capitalization is more than two times less than that of Bitcoin and stays at the level of 500 billion dollars. Historically the ETH to USD chart has demonstrated a positive tendency and usually follows the BTC trend. According to most cryptocurrency analysts, Ethereum current value is far from what it can potentially reach thanks to its various use cases.
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