Cryptocurrency mania is in full effect, with prices for Ethereum
surging ahead in May.

Also described as Bitcoin’s “younger brother”, the price of one
Ether (ETH) on the Ethereum blockchain network was a short time
ago worth more than $US190.00. That’s a gain of 133% since the
start of the month.

Ethereum’s yearly gain has been even more impressive. Despite
some volatility, the second largest cryptocurrency is currently
up by 2,230% since January 1, when it was worth $US8.15.


The cryptocurrency was established in 2015, when one Ether traded
for around $US0.70 (on current prices, that’s a gain of about
27,800%).

Ethereum’s surge comes amid a frenzy of recent activity in
alt-coins, with multiple listings of “initial coin offerings” –
the creation of exchanges to trade in virtual currencies with
real money.

There are now over 800 alt-coins in the market, and the top 10
have a
combined market capitalisation of around $US70 billion.

Like Bitcoin, Ethereum only has a finite number of digital coins
that can be mined. It differs slightly from Bitcoin in that the
currency’s platform allows it to run “smart contracts” –
computing protocols which trigger automatic transactions when
certain conditions are met. More on that
here.

The currency caused headlines in May 2016 when its Decentralised
Autonomous Organisation (DAO) – a network of smart contracts on
the Ethereum blockchain – raised $US150 million via crowd-funding
through the sale of Ether tokens.

The DAO was hacked in June 2016, and around $US50 million worth
of Ethereum was stolen. The Ethereum community then created a
hard-fork in the Ethereum blockchain, which has led to the
creation of two separate active cryptocurrencies.

The currency that trades within the post-fork blockchain is
referred to as Ethereum (ETH). The original currency is now
called Ethereum Classic (ETC), but its value is only around
one-tenth that of ETH.

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