What is ethereum?
Ethereum is a blockchain network that supports building and running decentralized applications (dApps). Ether is the method of payment on the Ethereum network that helps participants pay for hosting, executing, and using the apps running on Ethereum.
How is ether different than bitcoin?
While bitcoin allows you participate in a global financial network, using ethereum allows you to take part in a global computational network through smart contracts. Smart contracts are lines of code that execute the terms of any agreement directly between an anonymous buyer and a seller. Trusted transactions and agreements can be carried out on the distributed, decentralized blockchain network, rendering them traceable, transparent, and irreversible without the need for a central authority, legal system, or external enforcement mechanism.
What distinguishes cryptocurrencies from normal currencies?
Unlike cash or other, traditional currencies ether is a cryptocurrency – in other words, a digital currency on the internet. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, and ether tokens are not controlled or issued by a central bank or government instead they are managed by users in an open network.
Decentralised currencies, like bitcoin and ether are not bound to one country’s monetary system like the British pound, the American dollar or the euro. Nor do they belong to a specific company. They are simply exchanged among users on the internet. In this way, it’s possible to handle transactions between a seller and a buyer directly without a bank, state or other third party being required. This leads to quick transactions with very low fees.
How do blockchains work?
The blockchain is the system that ensures and authorises all transactions of ethereum through what are known as cryptographic algorithms. Each exchange, purchase and transaction of ethereum is registered by the blockchain in an open ledger – a kind of automatic and digital accounting system. Absolutely anyone can take part in the ethereum network and have complete access to the entire blockchain and the ledger of all transactions – regardless of whether they are a buyer or seller.
What decides the value of ether?
Just like those of other currencies, the ether exchange rate is determined by supply and demand. Its price can fluctuate from day to day, similar to the value of a stock or property. Because it is still a new technology, the value of ether has been more volatile compared to traditional (fiat) currencies such as the US dollar. Volatility will gradually reduce and stabilise as more users choose to be part of the ethereum network, building a larger pool of liquidity.
How many ethereum users are there?
While the number of ethereum users is still relatively low compared with owners of traditional stocks and major fiat currencies, the adoption rate is very high. Although introduced later than bitcoin, ether has taken over bitcoin in the number of both unique and active addresses. Exactly how many ethereum owners and users there are is not clear, but the number of unique addresses is reported by Etherscan to be over 55 million as of January 2019.
How many ethereums are there?
72 million ethers were issued in the 2014 presale. The total number of ethers in the market is capped at 18 million per year, equal to 25% of the initial supply to control inflation.