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DEFINITION of 'Ethereum'

Launched in 2015, Ethereum is a decentralized software platform that enables SmartContracts and Distributed Applications (ĐApps) to be built and run without any downtime, fraud, control or interference from a third party. The platform is also the basis for its own virtual currency, Ether. Ethereum is not just a platform but also a programming language (Turing complete) running on a blockchain, helping developers to build and publish distributed applications. The potential applications of Ethereum are wide ranging.

BREAKING DOWN 'Ethereum'

The applications on Ethereum are run on its platform-specific cryptographic token, ether. During 2014, Ethereum had launched a pre-sale for ether which had received an overwhelming response. Ether is like a vehicle for moving around on the Ethereum platform, and is sought by mostly developers looking to develop and run applications inside Ethereum. Ether is used broadly for two purposes, it is traded as a digital currency exchange like other cryptocurrencies and is used inside Ethereum to run applications and even to monetize work. The current market cap of ether (ETH) is now more than Ripple and Litecoin although its far behind bitcoin (BTC).

According to Ethereum, it can be used to “codify, decentralize, secure and trade just about anything.” One of the big projects around Ethereum is Microsoft’s partnership with ConsenSys which offers “Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) on Microsoft Azure so Enterprise clients and developers can have a single click cloud based blockchain developer environment.”

In 2016 Ethereum was split into two separate blockchains - Ethereum, and Ethereum Classic, after a malicious actor stole more than $50 million worth of funds which had been raised on The DAO, a set of smart contracts originating from Ethereum's software platform. The new Ethereum was a hard fork from the original software intended to protect against further malware attacks. As of July 2018 Ethereum was the second-largest virtual currency on the market, behind only Bitcoin. It is much faster to acquire ether currency than bitcoin (about 14 or 15 seconds to bitcoin's near-uniform 10 minutes) and there are far more ether units in circulation than there are bitcoin.

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