Cryptocurrencies have skyrocketed in popularity recently and this trend shows no signs of slowing. Given all the talk around these digital assets, you might be wondering whether now is the time to invest. But before pulling the trigger, it’s always a good idea to have an understanding of the underlying asset. Cryptocurrency is no exception and it is quite different than investing in stocks or bonds.
Therefore, we will cover a popular blockchain technology called Ethereum. Like many blockchains, Ethereum has a native coin called ether. Let’s take a closer look at what Ethereum is and whether you should consider investing.
What Is Ethereum?
Ethereum is an open-source, decentralized blockchain technology. Ethereum’s native coin is called ether. This coin is one of the largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, second only to Bitcoin (BTC). Although ether has a smaller market cap than Bitcoin, Ethereum is the most widely-used blockchain.
One thing that is important to understand about Ethereum is that it is not the same as Bitcoin. Whereas Bitcoin’s purpose is primarily to be a digital currency, Ethereum is much broader. In fact, Ethereum is an open-source operating system and computing platform. It also supports distributed applications (dApps) and smart contracts.
Another key aspect of Ethereum is that it enables decentralized finance, which is an important part of how the system works. Because the system is inherently decentralized, there is not a single entity controlling it or the value of ether.
What Is Ethereum Worth?
Like many cryptocurrencies, the price of ether has fluctuated greatly since it launched in 2015. Back then, its price was around $1 and stayed there for several months. The price reached $1,358 in January 2018, its highest price ever at the time. The price began to fall, as did the price of many cryptocurrencies; ether bottomed out at $83 in December 2018.
The price has ebbed and flowed since then but has risen overall. At the beginning of April 2020, the price was around $140; now, it is almost $2,100. In other words, the price increased by 1,400% in just one year.
Should You Invest In Ethereum?
If you decide to invest in ether (and therefore, in Ethereum), you should first ask yourself why you are investing. Although the price of the coin has risen substantially over the past year, it can be extremely volatile. Thus, if you buy ether simply hoping the price will rise, you may end up frustrated.
On the other hand, the Etherum blockchain can be used for many different applications, said Tally Greenberg, head of business development at Allnodes. “Ether is the cryptocurrency required for any transaction made on Ethereum, a blockchain network of applications. A blockchain, on the other hand, is a technology with limitless potential. It doesn’t rest on Ethereum alone and can be used to make a difference in our future with or without cryptocurrencies.”
Sam Bretzmann, the owner of Blocklink, agrees with this sentiment. “The difference here is that instead of investing in individual projects which may or may not make it, you can invest in the infrastructure. You can think about it like this, go back to 1999, and instead of having to try and pick which up and coming businesses will survive, you get to just pick ‘the internet’ and invest in that.”
This article is part of GOBankingRates’ ‘Economy Explained’ series to help readers navigate the complexities of our financial system.
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Last updated: April 7, 2021
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Ethereum (ETH): What It Is, What It’s Worth and Should You Be Investing?