What is Ethereum, and how does it work? What is Ethereum if Bitcoin BTC $27,113 is the future of money? The question arises for those unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies since Ethereum and Ether ETH $1,570 are often compared to Bitcoin on exchanges and in the headlines. Ethereum is not strictly competing with Bitcoin. Its purpose, features, and technology vary.
Ethereum, powered by Ether tokens, allows users to transact, earn interest through staking, store NFTs, trade cryptocurrencies, play games, and use social media. Many consider Ethereum the internet’s next step. Ethereum, a user-powered network, is Web 3.0, unlike Apple’s App Store. The “next-generation web” enables decentralized apps, money, and exchanges (DApps, DeFi, DEXs).
This guide covers Ethereum’s history, mining, how it works, how to buy it, ETH vs BTC, benefits, and Ethereum 2.0.
The Evolution of Ethereum
Ethereum wasn’t always the second-largest blockchain project. Vitalik Buterin co-founded the project to address Bitcoin’s weaknesses. Buterin’s 2013 Ethereum white paper described intelligent contracts and automated immutable “if-then” expressions that enable decentralized applications. DApp development existed on the blockchain, but platforms were incompatible. Buterin wanted Ethereum to unite.
Ethereum 1.0 was born. Like Apple’s App Store, it hosts thousands of apps with the same criteria. Only that ruleset is hardcoded into the network and enforced autonomously, with DApp developers implementing their own. Like Apple changing and implementing regulations, there is no central party. Instead, community members wield power.
Naturally, constructing a network is expensive. So, Buterin and his co-founders—Gavin Wood, Jeffrey Wilcke, Charles Hoskinson, Mihai Alisie, Anthony Di Iorio, and Amir Chetrit—held a token presale to generate $18,439,086 in Ether for Ethereum’s current and future development.
The consortium established the Ethereum Foundation in Switzerland to administer and develop the network. Buterin then declared that the foundation would be a nonprofit, which drove some co-founders away.
Developers brought decentralized ideas to Ethereum. These people formed The DAO, a democratic network change and proposal voting group, in 2016. An intelligent contract supported the organization, eliminating the need for a CEO to control Ethereum.
Due to a security flaw, an anonymous hacker stole $40 million from The DAO. The DAO voted to “hard fork” Ethereum or upgrade its software to fix the theft. This new fork is called Ethereum, whereas the previous network is Ethereum Classic.
How does Ethereum function?
Ethereum, like Bitcoin, resides on thousands of computers worldwide thanks to people as “nodes,” not a server. Due to its decentralization and immunity to attacks, the network cannot fail. One computer going down doesn’t matter because thousands keep the network up.
Decentralized Ethereum operates a computer called the Ethereum Virtual Machine. All nodes have a copy of that computer. Therefore, interactions must be confirmed to update them.
Network interactions are captured in Ethereum blockchain blocks as “transactions.” Before committing these blocks to the network as transaction history or a digital ledger, miners validate them. Mining verifies transactions using proof-of-work (PoW) consensus. Unique 64-digit codes identify each block. Miners use their computers to find the code, verifying its uniqueness. Miners receive ETH for their computer power, which is “proof” of their labor.
All Ethereum transactions are public, like Bitcoin. Miners send finished blocks to the network, validating the change and adding them to everyone’s ledger. All network transactions are recorded in confirmed blocks, which cannot be altered.
If miners are compensated, where does ETH come from? Each transaction costs “gas,” which the initiator pays. That fee rewards the miner who validates the transaction, encouraging future mining and network security. Users can only perform so many activities in each transaction with gas. It also blocks network spam.
Since ETH is a utility token, its supply is endless. Once the network switches to proof-of-stake, Ether will circulate as miner rewards and staking incentives. If Ether is always in demand, inflation shouldn’t devalue it beyond usability.
Due to network activity, Ethereum gas fees can be high for many. A block can only carry so much gas, which varies by transaction type and amount. Miners will choose transactions with the most significant gas prices, so users compete to validate them first. This competition raises fees, congesting the network during peak hours.
Ethereum 2.0, a significant redesign, addresses network congestion, which will be covered separately.
Ethereum requires wallet-stored cryptocurrency. The wallet links to DApps and acts as an Ethereum passport. People can buy things, play games, lend money, and do other items on the traditional internet from there. Only the conventional web is free because users give away personal information. Centralized websites sell data to gain money.
Cryptocurrency replaces data, allowing anonymous browsing and interaction. This makes DApp use non-discriminatory. Lending or banking DApps cannot discriminate based on race or income. Intermediaries cannot prohibit “suspicious transactions.” Ethereum is considered Web 3.0, the future of web interaction, because users decide what and how they do it.
What is Ethereum’s purpose?
Decentralized banking may be the Ethereum network’s most significant accomplishment. Around 2019 or 2020, DApps that can do more than one thing in the ecosystem started to appear, and they’re becoming increasingly famous every day. Because of this, the Ethereum network will be used more when more DApps are used. The Ethereum DeFi scene is the biggest one out there. Over the years, great DApps have made the platform more well-known.
Artists make much money by putting their work on the blockchain using NFTs or nonfungible coins. One might ask, “Why buy digital art when we can just take a picture?” That’s because collectors want to own things. NFTs are also a safe way to store information and hold proof of ownership. It’s pretty much an all-in-one for fans, which is why it’s so appealing.
For the same reason, someone would want the honest “Mona Lisa” over a copy, even if the document looks exactly like the real one. In online games, NFTs can also stand for things and accessories that can be used. Artists’ unique items can be used to decorate players’ homes and characters, giving them another way to make money.
Social media apps that can’t be blocked have been made, and users can now tip each other for content. People can invest in things in games, play to make them more prominent, and then sell them for a profit. This lets them get real value from the time they spend playing. There are platforms for making predictions that pay people for correct predictions and media for freelancing work that don’t take a significant cut of each payment.
Blockchain and smart contracts take care of this, giving DeFi users more power over their money.
Mining for Ethereum
Mining is putting together a block of events to be added to the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum uses a proof-of-work blockchain right now, but with Ethereum 2.0, it will switch to a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain to make it easier to scale and better for the environment.
Computers that run the Ethereum software and use their time and power to process deals and build blocks are called miners. People in a decentralized network like Ethereum must ensure everyone agrees on ordering transactions. Miners help with this by creating partnerships by solving puzzles that are hard for computers to solve. This keeps attacks from getting into the network.
Ethereum vs. Bitcoin
Bitcoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency, but the Ethereum group wants to make the project bigger. But Bitcoin does have some problems. Some people think it’s more of a store of value, like gold, because the Proof of Work network is having trouble growing. Bitcoin also has a hard cap of 21 million coins, which makes that point even more vital.
On the other hand, Ethereum wants to take over our present internet infrastructure. It intends to automate many tasks that need intermediaries, like working with fund managers or using an app shop. Developers can make a unique Ether-compatible token for each DApp on Ethereum. This is called an ERC-20 token. Even though the process isn’t perfect, all Ethereum-based tokens can work together. The network for Bitcoin only works with Bitcoin.
Aside from not being controlled by one person or group, Ethereum has many other advantages, such as not being censored. In this case, if someone shares something rude, Twitter can delete it and punish that person. However, that can only happen on an Ethereum-based social media site if everyone chooses.
Nasty people can’t take over either because of community rules. An evil person would need to control 51% of the network to make a change, which is usually. It’s not as risky as a simple computer that anyone can hack.
Then there are smart contracts, which take over many of the tasks that governments used to do on the old web and do them automatically. If you are an Upwork worker, you must use the site to find clients and make deals for payment. Upwork’s business plan is to use a portion of each contract to pay its workers, cover servers, and other fees. If a client wants to pay for work due at a particular time, Web 3.0 lets them write a smart contract that says so.
As well, getting Ether is becoming more accessible than ever. Companies like PayPal and its Venmo subsidiary let users buy cryptocurrency with real money in the app. Since millions of users are on each site, they’ll probably join sooner rather than later.
The first is being able to grow. For Buterin, Ethereum would be like the web today, with millions of people talking with each other at the same time. Also, division gets in the way. A central organization, like Visa, runs everything, which has polished the transaction process.
Second, it’s easy to get to. Some platforms need certain funds, meaning users must move their ETH from their current wallet to the one the platform needs. That’s an extra step that people already familiar with our current banking system don’t need to take, and it’s not beginner-friendly.
PayPal will soon support Bitcoin, but users won’t be able to do much with it other than hold it there. To make things more accessible, the app needs to work with DeFi and DApps.
The platform does have well-written help files on the subject, which is another crucial way to get more people to use it. It is very different to learn about blockchain than to use it.
Explain Ethereum 2.0 (Eth2)
The leading Ethereum network is working on combining with the Beacon Chain, the first new feature of Ethereum 2.0. Sharding is the process of splitting events between several smaller blockchain networks. Users with less powerful hardware can run these smaller networks because they only need to keep data from a single shard, not the whole network. Sharding makes it easier to validate Ethereum transactions and frees up space on the leading grid.
Many cryptocurrency fans are feeling bullish after the release of Ethereum 2.0. Celebrities are using NFTs, and more and more people are learning about the blockchain. This may be a problem because fees can sometimes be more than half the transaction amount. DApps developers are working hard to make it easier for more people to use so that it can become widely used.
Proof-of-stake agreement, one of the most essential parts of Ethereum 2.0, is part of the answer. Since Ethereum 2.0, there is no longer any mining, which uses much energy. Instead, there is a PoS consensus method. With proof-of-stake, validators, not miners, are the ones who store the Ethereum blockchain, check transactions, and do other things. You could think of them as a different kind of link.
At least in the early days of Ethereum 2.0, you had to stake at most minuscule 32 ETH to become a total validator. Because validators leave a computer tied to the network, they get ETH as a reward for their work. Also, a checker can lose that ETH if they don’t participate or do something terrible.
It doesn’t need special hardware like mining, so anyone with money and a gadget can participate. That ease of entry should, in theory, help the network grow. Adding more validators makes Ethereum even less centralized, which makes it safer as the role develops.
Purchasing Ethereum: Step-by-Step Guide
A cryptocurrency trading site is what you’ll need to do instead. There are a lot of cryptocurrency exchanges with dashboards that range from easy for beginners to hard for experienced traders. Researching before signing up is a good idea because each site has its prices, security measures, and other features.
You’ll most likely need to give some personal information and check your identity to start an account with a crypto exchange. You’ll need to connect a bank account or debit card to add money to your account. The fees will probably change based on the choice you make.
Putting money into your account doesn’t mean you have Ethereum, and just like with any other bank account, you don’t want your money to sit there doing nothing. Right now, it would be best if you bought Ethereum to trade.
Once your account is complete, you can trade US dollars for Ethereum. Just type in the amount of money you want to exchange for Ethereum. You may buy shares of a single Ethereum currency, but this will depend on how much you want to buy and how much Ethereum costs.
If you only have a small amount of crypto, leaving it in your trading account is more accessible. Many digital wallets, like paper or mobile wallets, each offer a different amount of security.
Should You purchase Ethereum?
Market capitalization-wise, Ethereum is the second most expensive cryptocurrency. Ethereum’s higher risk could yield more significant profits than any other investment. It’s not 2009 anymore; Ethereum has moved quickly past the proof-of-concept stage. Now is the time for buyers who haven’t looked into this type of asset before to do so.
Because the crypto market is unpredictable and changes frequently, you should research before investing much of your retirement money into Ethereum or any other coin. And yet, it might be worth considering as an option for fast growth in a diverse portfolio. Of course, don’t put more money into it than you can afford to lose.
The Ethereum blockchain is well-known because many decentralized finance projects and NFTs have been built on it in the past few months. Some fans say that the first new apps to run on a public blockchain have already significantly impacted the network, drawing more and more coders to Ethereum because of all the activity.
But there are still big questions about whether Ethereum, which is behind schedule on many complicated technological updates, will be able to compete with faster-moving rivals and whether the crypto world will agree on its long-term purpose.