Ethereum made its name as the blockchain network that brought the idea of smart contracts to the world. It was a huge achievement. It extended blockchain technology to do far more than just send transactions. Ethereum did this by introducing a complete programming language to its blockchain allowing anyone to build self-executing contracts.
But this technology is no longer as new and exciting as it was in 2015. There are now plenty of decentralized networks that support smart contracts. Some implement new ideas and technologies that can offer things Ethereum cannot. So, why is it at the top of the charts? What pushes the price of Ethereum up and makes it the third most popular cryptocurrency out there? Let’s take a look.
1. It’s the #1 ICO Platform
Still, by far the most important application of blockchain technology is the phenomenon of Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, ICOs are the new, efficient way for companies and startups to raise capital. All you need to do is create a new type of token on a blockchain like Ethereum and sell those tokens to whoever wants to buy them. No cash needs to be handed over, just native cryptocurrency. This makes the whole process automatic.
ICOs have taken off in a huge way. Billions of dollars have been raised in thousands of ICOs around the world, and the majority of them were issued on the Ethereum platform. This has put the Ethereum blockchain in a dominant position in the crypto market. The Ethereum ICO token standards have become the industry standard that everyone is used to. Also, all of the funds raised by these ICOs are in Ether, which supports the Ethereum blockchain. If you’re a token issuer, you need a good reason not to run your ICO on Ethereum. Ethereum is still dominating the most important application of blockchain technology so far.
2. An Ecosystem of Decentralized Apps
Ethereum has been around the longest and has the largest community of developers and users. This has helped grow the Ethereum decentralized application (DApp) ecosystem to the strongest in the industry. Ethereum is the best place for anyone wanting to actually use their crypto and get their hands ‘dirty’ on the decentralized internet.
Some great DApps you can get started with include:
- Ethlance – a decentralized freelance job market
- Cryptokitties – buy and sell cryptographically unique digital cats
- Aragon – for building and maintaining decentralized autonomous organizations
- uPort – an identity management platform
Having all these apps already developed is a big drawcard for new users. And it’s an advantage for developers who can use tools and lessons learned from these DApps to build even better new applications.
The Ethereum technology, tools, and the developer community are growing all the time, and are another reason the Ethereum blockchain will likely continue to dominate for a long time to come.
3. Blockchain Research
Blockchain is still an emerging technology. You might see new networks popping up all the time claiming to have some new idea that solves all of the difficulties of running a blockchain at scale. But true fixes to enormous technical problems like the ones that blockchain networks are fixing don’t come from one new idea. They come from many ideas stacked on top of each other, continuous research, hard work, collaboration, and battle testing.
Ethereum is a massive open-source project with some of the best minds in the world, an established user base, a huge community of developers, and serious corporate backing. This means that Ethereum has some of the best tech experts in the world working on many research projects in the pipeline, including Plasma, Sharding, and the Raiden Network. There’s also a possible Ethereum transition to the Proof-of-Stake consensus one day that will drastically reduce the energy required to secure the Ethereum blockchain.
5. A Visionary Leader
Every great project needs a great leader, and Ethereum has Vitalik Buterin. Vitalik is one of the household names of the crypto industry and has led the Ethereum project from just a crazy idea to a fully-functional global decentralized network with a market cap measured in the tens of billions.
Vitalik is a Russian-Canadian programmer and a writer who was inspired by the potential of blockchain technology when Bitcoin was first finding its feet. Since then, he’s created one of the most recognizable projects of the recent internet and made himself rich and famous in the process.
The same can’t be said about other blockchain projects, especially Bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto was the founder and original leader of Bitcoin, but he left the project to fend for itself years ago. The project has struggled to establish any kind of coherence or common sense of direction. Many in the Bitcoin community are still arguing about what Satoshi’s original vision actually was. This has led to deep and damaging political splits in the Bitcoin community, as well as technological splits in the Bitcoin blockchain in the form of hard forks.
The value of a smart, determined, charismatic leader to drive a blockchain community forward under a united vision can’t be understated. Vitalik provides that for Ethereum, and it looks like he’s here to stay.
6. Ethereum is Just Getting Started
With brand-new blockchains and crypto projects sprouting up all the time, it’s easy to see Ethereum as one of the ancient projects of the blockchain world. But Ethereum has only been around for a few years. If it was a company, it would still be considered a fresh startup, not an established corporation. Ethereum is just getting started. When it does start to find its feet, it will truly be a force to be reckoned with.
Ethereum emerged as a cool new platform experimenting with the idea of smart contracts. Since then, it’s developed into the innovation powerhouse of the blockchain world. The Ethereum project is driving relentlessly ahead through the technological challenges, criticism, community divides, politics and crypto recessions. Bitcoin is still the most popular and valuable blockchain, but Ethereum is the key project actively developing the internet’s decentralized future.