Ethereum’s 24-year-old Russian founder Vitalik Buterin Cryptocurrency investors have over a thousand digital coins to choose from in today’s market but only a select few consistently find themselves at the top of the pile.  One of those virtual currencies is Ethereum, which has been playing second fiddle to bitcoin since joining the market in 2015.  The cryptocurrency was one of the standout digital tokens at the start of the year, says The Daily Telegraph, after it jumped from a value of around £340 per coin in December to over £1000 in mid-January.  Prices have since tumbled due to a number of policy changes, such as South Korea’s ban on anonymous cryptocurrency exchanges in February, but Ethereum is still the second most valuable virtual coin in existence.  Here are some key facts about bitcoin’s closest competitor: Much like bitcoin and other digital currencies, Ethereum is a virtual coin that allows for anonymous transactions online.  The cryptocurrency was created by the Russian-born programmer Vitalik Buterin in 2013, when he was just 19 years old, says Wired, and was listed on public exchanges two years later. Buterin established Ethereum as an open-source alternative to bitcoin, meaning that third parties could use the technology for stocks, bonds or even “deeds to houses”.

The cryptocurrency is decentralised, says Digital Trends, meaning the digital tokes – commonly referred to as Ether – aren’t held or regulated by a single company or bank. Instead, Ethereum tokens can be purchased, stored and used for anonymous transactions by the individual.  Ethereum is based on blockchain technology, an anonymous online list that logs all the cryptocurrency’s digital coins in existence and who owns them.  The ledger itself isn’t stored in one place, says BBC News.

Instead it’s distributed across thousands of computers through the internet.  When you purchase an Ethereum token using a cryptocurrency exchange, such as Coinbase, the online ledger is updated. You are then given an encrypted digital key to access your block on the list, the BBC says.

The ledger records every transaction ever made and cannot be altered or tampered with. This process is similar to most cryptocurrencies.

It was pioneered in 2009 by bitcoin’s mysterious founder, who uses the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. What sets Ethereum apart from its rivals is its open-source architecture, which makes it simpler for third party companies to work with.  Bitcoin’s appeal, according to The Daily Telegraph, is that it allows users to store their money outside banks. Read more from…

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