What is Ethereum, the latest surging cryptocurrency?

This article was first published on Silicon Republiccryptocurrency – Silicon Republic

On Monday (10 May), Ethereum hit $4,200 in value – its highest point to date.

Ethereum, or Ether, surged in value over the weekend while people were paying attention to Elon Musk’s Saturday Night Live appearance and what that might mean for Dogecoin – not a lot in the end. But the real crypto story was happening elsewhere.

Ether is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain network that was built by co-founders including Vitalik Buterin, a celebrity now in the crypto space.

It has regularly played second fiddle to bitcoin in terms of value, market cap and mainstream awareness, but Ethereum has always had its ardent supporters – mostly because its use cases go far beyond that of other cryptocurrencies.

Where Ethereum differs from bitcoin is that it is a platform that apps can be built on. These apps are powered by what are called smart contracts.

For example, a payment from one person to another could be withheld until certain technical conditions have been met. These conditions are written into lines of code in the smart contract.

The most prominent use case of Ethereum lately has been the boom in non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. These are typically built on the Ethereum blockchain and verified through smart contracts, which allows for the exchange of the NFT file for the funds owed.

The last time Ethereum went through a buzz like this was in 2017 and 2018 during the much-hyped initial coin offering craze, when many new cryptocurrency tokens were launched via the Ethereum network.

Since then, the market has matured somewhat and focused on other use cases.

Decentralised finance

Perhaps a bigger, more long-term impact of Ethereum is in the DeFi space. DeFi (decentralised finance) is a phrase used to describe a slew of new financial services products ...

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