Ethereum is a blockchain-based software platform that is primarily used to support the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization after Bitcoin. Like other cryptocurrencies, Ethereum can be used for sending and receiving value globally and without a third party watching or stepping in unexpectedly. 

ETH is a cryptocurrency. It is scarce digital money that you can use on the internet – similar to Bitcoin. If you’re new to crypto, here's how ETH is different from traditional money.

👩‍💻 It's really yours

ETH lets you be your own bank. You can control your own funds with your wallet as proof of ownership – no third parties necessary.

🛡️ Secured by cryptography

Internet money may be new but it's secured by proven cryptography. This protects your wallet, your ETH, and your transactions.

🤝 Peer-to-peer payments

You can send your ETH without any intermediary service like a bank. It's like handing cash over in-person, but you can do it securely with anyone, anywhere, anytime

💸 No centralized control

ETH is decentralized and global. There's no company or bank that can decide to print more ETH, or change the terms of use.

📶 Open to anyone

You only need an internet connection and a wallet to accept ETH. You don't need access to a bank account to accept payments.

🍰 Available in flexible amounts

ETH is divisible up to 18 decimal places so you don't have to buy 1 whole ETH. You can buy fractions at a time – as little as 0.000000000000000001 ETH if you want.

Uses for ETH grow every day

Because Ethereum is programmable, developers can shape ETH in countless ways.

Back in 2015, all you could do was send ETH from one Ethereum account to another. Here are just some of things you can do today.

  • Steam ETH – pay someone or receive funds in real time.
  • Swap tokens – you can trade ETH with other tokens including Bitcoin.
  • Earn interest – on ETH and other Ethereum-based tokens.
  • Get stablecoins – access the world of cryptocurrencies with a steady, less-volatile value.

Why does ETH have value?

ETH's valuable in different ways to different people.

For users of Ethereum, ETH is valuable because it lets you pay transaction fees.

Others see it as a digital store of value because the creation of new ETH slows down over time.

More recently, ETH has become valuable to users of financial apps on Ethereum. That's because you can use ETH as collateral for crypto loans, or as a payment system.

Of course many also see it as an investment, similar to Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

ETH isn't the only crypto on Ethereum

Anyone can create new kinds of assets and trade them on Ethereum. These are known as 'tokens'. People have tokenised traditional currencies, their real estate, their art, and even themselves!

Ethereum is home to thousands of tokens – some more useful and valuable than others. Developers are constantly building new tokens that unlock new possibilities and open new markets.

Keeping your ETH safe and Secure

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  • Be careful who you tell about your Ethereum holdings. Rule number one in cryptocurrency is not to tell anyone how much cryptocurrency you hold.
  • Look out for phishing attacks.
  • Consider purchasing a hardware wallet.
  • Never leave your Ethereum on exchanges

How is Ethereum different from Bitcoin?

Ethereum draws inspiration from Bitcoin. They are both cryptocurrencies. Ethereum uses the same technology behind Bitcoin, a blockchain, which uses a shared, decentralized public ledger to decentralize the network so it’s not under the control of just one entity.

But while Bitcoin is used primarily as a store of value, the idea behind Ethereum is to decentralize other kinds of applications and services, from social media networks to more complex financial agreements.

Why is Ethereum sometimes called a 'world computer?'

Many advocates see Ethereum as a “world computer” that could decentralize the internet.

With Ethereum, centralized servers are replaced by thousands of so-called “nodes” run by volunteers all over the world thus forming a “world computer.” The hope is that one day, anyone in the world will be able to use it.

Scrolling through a typical app store you’ll see a variety of colorful squares representing everything from banking to fitness to messaging apps. The long-term vision of the Ethereum community is to make apps that look just like these, but that work differently under the hood.

What are the next steps for Ethereum?

It’s worth noting that Ethereum has been met with healthy skepticism. For one, Ethereum is far from scalable, meaning it can’t support many users right now, throwing a wrench in the idea of a “world computer” that disrupts Google, Facebook and other centralized platforms.

Ethereum 2.0, which was launched Dec. 1, 2020, aims to fix some of these issues. Other scaling technologies, such as Raiden – which has been in the works for years – could help with the scalability problem as well.