What is Ethereum?
Ethereum is a digital platform which adopts the blockchain technology established by bitcoin, and expands its use to accommodate a wide variety of other applications. It is not to be confused with ether – the cryptocurrency underpinning the network – which is often referred to as ethereum.
The Ethereum platform was created in 2015 by Toronto-based programmer Vitalik Buterin, with a view to create a vehicle for decentralised, collaborative applications. Ether (ETH) is a token that can be used in transactions utilising this software. Like bitcoin, ether exists as part of a self-contained peer-to-peer financial system, free from government oversight and intervention. And like bitcoin, ether has seen its value rocket in a short space of time.
In January 2016, ether was trading at around $1. By September 2017, this price was upwards of $290 – though this value has proved volatile, with frequent intraday swings. So while ether is just one of hundreds of cryptocurrencies, it is also one of only a few with a significant market cap, including its two biggest rivals, bitcoin and bitcoin cash.