Ethereum is an open-source software platform that uses Ether (ETH) as the native digital currency and enables the creation of smart contracts and decentralised applications (DApps) without downtime, fraud, control, or interference from a third party.
As a programming language that’s Turing-complete and built on [blockchain technology](https://crypto.com/university/what-is-blockchain-consensus?utm_source=crypto.com+price+page&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ethereum&utm_content=blockchain+technology), Ethereum has helped developers build and publish decentralised assets, apps, and other services. It is currently the second-biggest [cryptocurrency](https://crypto.com/university/technical-details-crypto-altcoins?utm_source=crypto.com+price+page&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ethereum&utm_content=cryptocurrency) in the world, since it is the most-used blockchain platform so far.
A Brief History of Ethereum
Ethereum was first introduced through a white paper written by Vitalik Buterin in 2013. The paper talked about a blockchain network that supports the creation of smart contracts and the minting of cryptocurrencies without needing their separate blockchains.
Following an initial coin offering that raised US$18.3 million in BTC funds, the Ethereum blockchain was launched in 2015. Since then, this network has undergone updates, most notably a shift from a proof of work (PoW) algorithm, which relies on computational power for the processing of blocks in the blockchain, to a proof of stake (PoS) algorithm, to boost network scalability.
How Ethereum works
Ethereum has introduced the concept of a blockchain smart contract platform, which allows for creating a programmable contract. Through this smart contract, two counterparties are able to set conditions of a transaction without needing to trust another third party for the execution. People who use these smart contracts for their transactions will pay a network fee in the form of Ether. In addition to smart contracts, Ethereum’s blockchain is able to host other cryptocurrencies, called ‘tokens’, through the use of its ERC20 compatibility standard.
What is Ethereum used for?
Ethereum’s native token, called Ether or ETH, is used to pay transaction fees (or ‘gas’) for the use of its network. Developers can use Ethereum to run decentralised applications (DApps) and issue new crypto assets within the Ethereum network. As Ethereum gets more widely used by developers, more use cases were introduced, such as [decentralised finance (DeFi)](<https://crypto.com/university/decentralised-finance-defi-intro?utm_source=crypto.com+price+page&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ethereum&utm_content=decentralised+finance+(defi)>), play-to-earn gaming, [NFT art](https://crypto.com/university/what-are-nfts?utm_source=crypto.com+price+page&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ethereum&utm_content=nft+art), and others.