Ethereum is the second-biggest player in the cryptocurrency world today. Founded only 4 years ago by Vitalik Buterin, the Ethereum platform has seen remarkable growth in its short lifetime. If any coin is able to usurp Bitcoin’s position as the most valuable cryptocurrency in the world, Ethereum may just be the one.
In this guide we’ll explain what makes Ethereum so promising and tell you everything you need to know to start investing. Topics to be covered in this article include:
- What is Ethereum?
- What is the Technology Behind Ethereum?
- How to Buy Ethereum
- How Do Ethereum Transactions Work?
- Advantages of Ethereum
- Disadvantages of Ethereum
Let’s jump in!
While Bitcoin is first and foremost a blockchain currency, Ethereum is a blockchain platform. Ethereum allows developers to utilize blockchain technology for a wide range of purposes, with virtual currencies being just one of an infinite number of possible applications.
The Ethereum cryptocurrency is called ether. Ether is often referred to as the “fuel” of the Ethereum network. Anyone looking to make use of the Ethereum platform pays a transaction fee in the form of ether. These transaction fees cover computing costs and keep the network running smoothly.
The ether token can also be used for a number of other purposes, not least of which is buying alternative cryptocurrencies. Whenever you hear someone talking about the value of Ethereum, they’re more than likely talking about the value of ether. Though technically not the same, the terms are often used interchangeably.
This section will be pretty familiar to those of you who have already read our Ultimate Guide to Bitcoin, but here’s a refresher for those who haven’t.
The blockchain is a powerful technology pioneered by Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto that allows for secure, unalterable record-keeping without a trusted central authority. In Bitcoin, this takes the form of a public ledger which records every single Bitcoin transaction. A peer-to-peer network of nodes processes each new transaction and bundles them with other transactions in “blocks”. These blocks are then attached to the previous end of the blockchain using advanced encryption methods. Once a block is added, every single node in the network is notified and updates their copy of the blockchain.
This is an oversimplification of the process, but the point is that the public record of transactions is distributed across the whole network, rather than being stored in one central location. Blocks are essentially unchangeable once they are attached to the chain, which makes for a system that is both extremely secure and surprisingly transparent.
Ethereum has taken the blockchain and broadened its use beyond currency, instead focusing on decentralized applications.
The Ethereum network is maintained by volunteers known as Ethereum miners. Ethereum mining is very similar to Bitcoin mining. In short, miners carry out the computations required to process and validate new blocks.
Currently, Ethereum uses a proof-of-work system similar to Bitcoin’s to determine which miner gets to add each new block to the blockchain. Proof-of-work essentially requires miners to use computers to guess the answer to a difficult puzzle until one of them finds the answer. Mining requires extremely powerful computers in order to be competitive and is consequently very costly. Miners are rewarded for the valuable service they provide to the network with 5 ether for every new block they add to the blockchain. This incentivizes the miners and keeps the network running smoothly.
Ethereum will soon be transitioning away from proof-of-work toward a new system called proof-of-stake. This new system would randomly award blocks to users based on token ownership rather than their ability to compute the answer to a puzzle. This should be a less-costly option and result in a more distributed network of miners, rather than a handful of large mining operations.
The Ethereum Virtual Machine
While the idea of the blockchain was largely borrowed from Bitcoin, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is something entirely new. Every node in the Ethereum network runs a copy of the EVM, creating a sort of world computer that allows any individual computer to run any application, if given enough time and memory.
In contrast to most other blockchains, which can generally be used for a very limited range of operations, this technology makes Ethereum extremely flexible. The most prominent examples of uses are smart contracts, decentralized autonomous organizations, and decentralized applications.
A smart contract is essentially a computer program that automatically executes a set transaction when certain conditions are met. Two individuals can anonymously “sign” a smart contract and the contract will be preserved on the public blockchain. When the conditions of the contract are met, it executes itself and this new state is updated on the next block in the blockchain.
Smart contracts aren’t limited to only monetary transactions either. Content, property, and anything else you can think of can be used as a reward for meeting the contract’s conditions. Smart contracts are appealing because they are anonymous, secure, flexible, and they don’t require any third-parties to be carried out.
Decentralized Autonomous Organizations
Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) are essentially smart contracts taken to the scale of an entire organization. Organizational processes could be written into code and run automatically rather than relying on an actual hierarchy of individuals to carry them out.
DAOs are an incredibly ambitious application of the Ethereum network. The upshot of this kind of an organization would theoretically be extreme efficiency and lack of corruption. The downside though is that implementing this kind of a system would require incredible foresight. Smart contracts are very difficult if not impossible to alter once they’re live, so any oversights or coding errors would be a major liability. This is exemplified by the most famous DAO in Ethereum’s history, simply called The DAO, which was exploited by hackers to steal about $60 million of investors’ funds. The money was eventually returned, but The DAO Event serves as a stark warning for what can happen if coding is flawed.
Probably the most exciting use of the Ethereum network is decentralized applications, better-known as dapps. A dapp is exactly what it sounds like: an application that utilizes the decentralizing power of the blockchain.
Dapps have several advantages over traditional applications. Perhaps the biggest is that dapps have no central point of failure. It’s common today to hear about thousands or millions of people’s data being compromised or stolen as a result of hacks or server malfunctions — the Equifax scandal in 2017 comes to mind. Dapps don’t suffer from these types of problems because of the security and decentralization of the blockchain.
Beyond security, another advantage of dapps over traditional applications is that dapps are not susceptible to server outages. Dapps are maintained by a network of thousands of nodes which act as mini-servers. A dapp could only be “down” if the entire network were down.
Best of all, dapps don’t require any change in the front-end user interface, meaning that dapps can reap all the benefits of decentralization while remaining indistinguishable to most users from the traditional applications they are used to.
The most convenient way to buy Ethereum is on an online exchange. Exchanges allow users to buy, sell, or trade Ethereum for fiat currency or alternative cryptocurrencies. There are many exchanges to choose from and they each have their pros and cons.
Here’s a quick look at some of our favorites exchanges:
- Coinbase – Coinbase is one of the oldest and most trusted exchanges around today. Its website is very intuitive and allows users to easily buy or trade 4 of the most popular cryptocurrencies: Ethereum, Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash. Coinbase charges very low transaction fees and allows users to purchase the above cryptocurrencies using credit cards, debit cards, and bank transfers. Coinbase is particularly good if you’re new to cryptocurrency, though it may lack some of the bells and whistles of other exchanges.
- Gemini – Gemini is a great option for those looking for a slightly more advanced trading platform. Founded in 2015, Gemini is a relatively young exchange but it’s quickly become one of the most popular. Gemini offers some more sophisticated trading technology compared to Coinbase but still remains pretty user-friendly. One of Gemini’s big selling points is its very low fees, averaging around 0.25% or less. Gemini allows users to buy either Ether or Bitcoin using ACH bank transfers and bank wires.
- GDAX – GDAX is another great option for more advanced cryptocurrency trading. This exchange is owned by the same company as Coinbase and holds a similar industry reputation. The difference is that GDAX is less user-friendly and geared more toward serious traders. Like Gemini, GDAX charges very low fees of 0.25% or less and accepts ACH bank transfers or bank wires.
These are just three of the numerous exchanges on which users can buy Ethereum. For a more in-depth look at these and other exchanges, check out our guide to the Best Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Altcoin Exchanges of 2018.
Before purchasing any Ethereum though you’ll first want to make sure that you’ve set yourself up with an Ethereum wallet. Wallets serve the important function of protecting your Ethereum when it’s not in use.
Your wallet doesn’t actually store your ether. Instead, wallets store the alphanumeric keys and addresses that allow you to send or receive ether.
Private Keys and Ethereum Addresses
A private key is a long string of alphanumeric characters that is used to “sign” transactions to verify that you are the one sending your ether. As the name suggests, it is critical that you keep your private key secret. Anyone with knowledge of your private key would be able to steal your ether. Protecting your private key is your wallet’s primary purpose.
Ethereum wallets also store your Ethereum addresses. An Ethereum address is another long string of alphanumeric characters, but an address is used for receiving ether instead of sending it. It is not necessary to keep your Ethereum address secret in the same way you keep your private key secret. Your Ethereum address is cryptographically derived from your private key, but there is no way to determine your private key simply by looking at the address. Giving someone your address allows them to send ether to your wallet.
Ethereum wallets fall into 5 main categories:
- Online – Online wallets are accessible through a web browser. The main advantage of online wallets is that you can easily access them anywhere you can access the internet. The major downside is that your private keys are typically stored on the wallet’s servers, which means your ether is only as secure as their servers. For this reason, we only recommend using online wallets for small amounts of ether.
- Desktop – Desktop wallets are software programs that you install onto your computer. These wallets are typically more secure than web-based wallets because your keys are stored on your computer rather than online. That being said, your computer is still susceptible to viruses or other malware that might have the potential to steal your ether, so they still are not ideal for large amounts of ether.
- Mobile – Mobile wallets are apps installed onto your phone or tablet. Mobile wallets either store your private key locally on the device (similar to a desktop wallet) or they store your private key online (like a web-based wallet). Mobile wallets offer the convenience of being able to use your ether on the go, but they also suffer from the same security risks as online or desktop wallets.
- Hardware – Hardware wallets are physical devices that store your private keys offline in “cold storage”. These devices are small and plug into your computer via USB whenever you need to access your ether. These hardware devices are immune to viruses and are generally considered to be the most secure wallets available. The only real downside of hardware wallets is that you have to pay for the physical hardware, though recent wallets like the Nano Ledger S are very affordable.
- Paper – Finally, paper wallets are an alternative method of offline cold storage. They are physical pieces of paper with your public and private keys written on them. Paper wallets are generally inferior to hardware wallets, as they are both less convenient and less secure.
Once you’ve selected wallet type and purchased some Ethereum from an exchange, you’re ready to start making transactions using Ethereum.
Ethereum transactions work in much the same way as Bitcoin transactions. Paying someone in Ethereum is as simple as entering in their address along with the amount you’d like to send.
Receiving ether is equally simple. Just give the other party your address and they can send you the ether.
- Broad range of applications – The biggest thing Ethereum has going for it is that it is much more than just a cryptocurrency. Ethereum is first and foremost a blockchain-based software platform. Ethereum’s blockchain is already being used as the foundation for thousands of applications, and the possibilities for future applications are limited only by programmers’ imaginations.
- Supported by other coins – One kind of application that naturally lends itself to being built on a blockchain is of course a cryptocurrency. Sure enough, the Ethereum network serves as the foundation for hundreds of smaller coins. Most of these small tokens adhere to what’s called ERC-20, which is essentially a set of rules that define how tokens should operate on the Ethereum network. Because most tokens follow these rules, tokens of different types can be used the same all across the Ethereum network. These smaller coins bolster the value of the Ethereum network as a whole.
- Central leadership – Ethereum is backed by an organization with leaders and developers actively trying to make Ethereum succeed. This stands in contrast to Bitcoin, which was created by an almost mythical individual going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto, who wrote the Bitcoin white paper and then disappeared not long after. The team behind Ethereum regularly updates the platform and advocates for it in the world. This type of leadership could help Ethereum grow and adapt to the needs of its users over time.
- All the other benefits of a cryptocurrency – As a blockchain-based cryptocurrency, ether enjoys many of the same advantages as other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Namely, the Ethereum network is secure, pseudoanonymous, decentralized, and international.
- Volatility – Much as Ethereum shares many of the same advantages as other cryptocurrencies, it also shares many of the disadvantages. Probably the most significant of these is that Ethereum is very volatile. The value of 1 ether rose by over 10,000% over the course of last year, so the overall trajectory has been incredibly positive. But market swings can be drastic, and it’s common to see the value of Ethereum go up or down by 5 percent or more in a single day. As with any other investment, only invest what you can afford to lose.
- Smart contracts are only as secure as they are programmed to be – This one is fairly self-explanatory. The Ethereum network as a whole is incredibly secure. Individual smart contracts, however, may be less-so. That being said, this is becoming less of an issue as developers on the platform are becoming more experienced coding these types of applications. Plus, many of the basic smart contracts that most users use have become standardized and are completely safe.
- Central leadership, again – It might seem silly to have central leadership as both an advantage and a disadvantage, but some cryptocurrency insiders see Ethereum’s leaders as more of a threat to the network than a benefit. This is exemplified by how The DAO Event was resolved. I mentioned earlier that investors in The DAO whose money had been stolen eventually had their money returned. Technically this shouldn’t have been possible as all Ethereum transactions, like Bitcoin transactions, are final. But the Ethereum leaders decided to step in and essentially rewrite the block on which the money was stolen. Some thought this move was justified, while others said that it compromised the integrity of the network. This divided the Ethereum community and resulted in two separate networks: Ethereum (the primary network and the subject of this article), which was built off of the rewritten block, and Ethereum Classic, which continued their own blockchain based off of the original unchanged block. The decision is still contentious and raises questions about how decentralized the network truly is.
Calling Ethereum a cryptocurrency feels insufficient, because it is so much more than that. Ethereum is a platform that allows developers from all around the world to utilize the power of blockchain technology for any application they want to create. Smart contracts and dapps have the potential to revolutionize a wide range of industries, and given that Ethereum has only been live for about 2 years, that potential has only just begun to be explored.
This expansive network puts Ethereum in a truly unique position in the cryptocurrency world. Owners of ether have more than just a piece of digital currency; they have a stake in something special.
Kucoin and Revain Announce Partnership
Before deciding to buy or apply for any service, consumers are primarily interested in doing their homework via the ability review via 3rd Party Objectivity based on what other people are thinking.
In order not to get lost in multiple offers of wallets, exchanges, and cryptocurrencies, Internet users are starting to look for reviews to guide their decision-making process.
The revain.org project began to use blockchain to keep all reviews unchanged. This gives trust to the community and allows users to learn with the ability to interact with both projects that interest them and the communities they represent.
Trust can play an extremely important role for serious companies. The KuCoin and Revain projects have started cooperation for the common benefit of both communities. The Revain Widget implemented on the main page of one of the leading exchanges allows visitors to read and write reviews directly on the platform.
Companies that have already achieved success should understand that the review widget increases a conversion rate and provides additional traffic.
And there are other pluses as well
For example, why would you buy products on a mystery shopping service if you can simply read a ready-made review on the Revain website?
And it will be fair, fast and, most importantly, it’s free.
It’s not a surprise when blockchain technologies are used in the crypto community. But the Revain Project doesn’t intend to stop there and has serious plans to expand the topic on which the writers will write reviews.
It’s important for people that the review includes pros and cons.
This could stem from concerns about fake reviews, and an underlying assumption that balanced reviews feel more authentic than reviews that are overly or exclusively positive.
Consumers want retailers to have better technology, offer more services, and establish better personal connections. Consumers think about what good shopping experience looks like in the first place. Therefore, when people read or write a review, they pay attention not only to the facts but also to the feelings that appeared after the purchase from the company to which the review was then written.
When there are feelings, it is important to preserve a zone of trust and comfort
The usual advertising channels carry information about the product and the brand. But they do not contain the emotions of other buyers. The buyer chooses where he will share his buying experience.
And it is especially important that the credibility of the review that is written on the seller’s website does not reach heaven. It is very important to have an independent platform, the need for which has been ripening for a long time in the Internet community.
Therefore, reviews are written on the Revainplatform. You can display these reviews on your website using a simple widget. Thus, customers will see the independence of the review and at the same time, they can read it without leaving your site.
Of course, there were sites for reviews, they exist now and will continue to appear. But a project like Revain meets the expectations of ordinary people and businesses as much as possible. After all, reviews cannot be deleted or falsified because of blockchain. The hash of each review is kept for centuries.
Because of this, some reviews may seem funny as their authors decided to add some new facts or correct mistakes later. I recommend visiting and reading such reviews. A very interesting experience.
Source: Rinat Arslanov has been the Co-Founder and CEO of Revain since its inception. He describes his passion for Revain as a life project for him. He is currently doing his Ph.D. at Plekhanov Russian University of Economics and is expected to complete his doctorate in 2022.
EOS, Stellar Lumens, Synthetix Price Analysis: 28 October
Bitcoin Dominance rose to 63 and Bitcoin was trading at $13,676 at press time. The altcoin market was registering some losses for the day, but a pullback on Bitcoin could see the red for other assets in the crypto space in the coming days. EOS exhibited a bearish divergence, and Stellar Lumens appeared to be forming a bearish pattern that was yet unconfirmed. Synthetix closed beneath a bearish triangle and could post losses in the coming days.
The bearish divergence (white) showed the price registered higher highs while the bullish momentum waned. The white trendline on the price chart also formed the upper side of an ascending broadening wedge whose base was at $2.62.
This is a pattern that generally breaks out to the downside, and the bearish divergence suggested that a drop in value for EOS might be in store.
A break below $2.62 and $2.59 would take EOS to the next level of support at $2.44.
Stellar Lumens [XLM]
Stellar Lumens appeared to be forming an inverted cup. A break below the rim of the cup, at level $0.079 which is also a support, could see XLM move as low as $0.072.
The Directional Movement Index was also inching toward 20 and moving above would indicate a strong trend. The -DI (pink) showed the bearish nature of the trend.
Synthetix Network [SNX]
Synthetix Network was forming a descending triangle, characterized by successive smaller bounces off the same level of support at $3.48. The OBV was also trending lower in the past weeks.
Recently, the price closed beneath the base of the triangle. Alongside, the OBV also dropped beneath the floor it has maintained above for a month (orange), indicating that buying volume was quickly dwindling as bears took control of the market.
A break beneath support at $3.36 was likely for SNX, with the next region of support at $3.
TomoChain Builds on Blockchain Commerce Following Lition Acquisition
Tomochain, the Singapore-based smart contract platform, has taken another stride towards its aim of hosting government and enterprise applications with its acquisition of Lition, a German company that provides public and private blockchain services.
Launched on Ethereum in October 2020, Lition represents a bridge between public and private blockchain use-cases with its ability to delete privately hosted data in accordance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines.
This aligns with TomoChain’s goal to entice governments and enterprises to utilize its platform – a goal that has historically been fraught with concerns over regulatory compliance.
TomoChain Eyes European Market
TomoChain is expected to leverage Lition’s experience in navigating Europe’s regulation-heavy blockchain landscape. Lition has already created a multi-million dollar peer-to-peer marketplace that connects renewable energy providers with consumers. Lition also recently piloted a $20 million loan between two of Germany’s VR Bank cooperatives and a national real-estate developer.
Combined with Lition’s recent efforts in creating Proof-of-Existence service, which verifies legal documents on the blockchain for EU clients, TomoChain will seek to take advantage of Lition’s breakaway success and use it to help create large-scale solutions for healthcare and automotive industries.
“Lition’s assimilation into our Enterprise division strengthens TomoChain’s consultation services and product development for large-scale enterprises, as well as for government,” said Long Vuong, Founder and CEO of TomoChain, adding, “We intend to optimize Lition’s core technology as a base to further extend digital money and other financial products.”
The acquisition was celebrated by Lition founder and CEO Richard Lohwasser, who said:
“This is a great day and a defining moment for Lition, adding, “We join a company in TomoChain with tremendous scale and resources, and a culture completely aligned with ours.”
The two sides will be holding a joint-AMA on October 30th where they’ll likely reveal more details about the acquisition and how the new structure will be implemented.
EU Embraces Digital Innovation
The EU recently accepted proposals for the creation of a pan-European regulatory sandbox for regulations pertaining to crypto-assets and distributed ledger technology. Although still in the pilot stage, the EU said it is open to ideas from companies and regulators and will facilitate the testing of innovative solutions hosted on the blockchain.
The European Commission has declared its ambition to move away from cash purchases in the EU region – a method of payment that still makes up 78% of transactions. Recent documents published in the EU policy publication Euroactiv revealed the EU would launch a comprehensive set of crypto regulations by no later than 2024.
While the acquisition of Lition will help TomoChain gain a stronger foothold in EU markets, the newfound relationship will also help Lition expand into TomoChain’s native markets in Asia. Lition CEO Richard Lohwasser said the acquisition would help accelerate the growth of the company on a global scale.
“The acquisition provides Lition with the opportunity for greater reach throughout Asia, enhanced operational efficiency and innovations that will benefit everyone. We are excited to leverage our combined resources to accelerate the next stage of Lition’s growth into a global player,” said Lohwasser.
Lition is expected to become a key division in TomoChain’s blockchain ecosystem. Built on the Ethereum network, it will continue to work on creating scalable sidechains for use in commercial use cases. Meanwhile, TomoChain will use Lition’s private/public distributed ledger technology to target large-scale financial institutions.
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