Popularly associated with bitcoin and first generation decentralized applications, blockchain technologies are numerous and goes beyond digital currency. Bitcoin is only a several of hundreds of applications that relies on blockchain technology today. Blockchain is to digital currencies what internet is to email; a gigantic electronic system upon which multiple application can be build.
Ethereum has made a lot of things possible to people of diverse field that have little or less background in writing complex computer code, cryptography, mathematics as well as significant resources to run these applications. Previously, unimagined applications such as electronic voting, digitally recorded property assets to regulatory compliance and trading, now actively being developed, deployed seamlessly than before, providing developers tools to build decentralized applications as fast as possible.
BITCOIN AND ETHEREUM
There is a big difference (technically) between bitcoin and ethereum, although they both rely on the blockchain technology, ethereum is a distributed public blockchain network. They both differs in purpose and capability. Bitcoin offers a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that enable online payment using bitcoins, the bitcoins blockchain is then used to track ownership of the digital currency (coins), ethereum focus is majorly on running the code of any decentralized application.
Ethereum blockchain does not reward miner for mining bitcoin, a miner has to work to earn “Ether” (it is the token that fuels ethereum network). It’s beyond cryptocurrency, application developers also used ether to make payment for transactions, services within the community.
This is the name given or used to describe the computer code that facilitate exchange (shares, property, content or money) of values on the network. It’s like a self-operating computer code when running on the blockchain that executes automatically whenever certain conditions are met. Smart contract run on the blockchain exactly as programmed without any possibility of theft, interference by third parties, downtimes or censorship.
All blockchains can process code as they have the ability; however, some of them are limited as to what extent of processing can be carried out on them. Ethereum does not give a limited operation rather, it allows developers to create any operations of their choice; developers can build multiples of different application that goes beyond anything seen in the past. Smart contract can easily self-execute, handle enforcement, management, payment and performance easily.
Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)
In the past or history of blockchain, blockchain applications were developed to process limited set of operations, bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies were set up exclusively to operate as peer to peer digital currency. These creates more problems for the developers as it limits them from expansion, ether bridged that gap (smart contract – a self-executing code that can be customized to the preference of the developer), as it expands the functions offered by other cryptocurrencies which are complex and consume so much time.
The core innovation on this network is the Turin software that runs on the ethereum network, enabling anyone to run any program developed on any programming language with sufficient memory and time. The EVM has make the blockchain application creation easier and efficient than before, there is no need to build an entirely original blockchain for new application separately rather, it enables development of multiples or different applications all running on one platform.
Uses of Ethereum
It’s a decentralized system, which aid developers to build decentralized applications just like bitcoins. These types of applications (decentralized “Dapp”) are made of programs that runs on a network blockchain, their control is beyond any individual or central entity.
Benefits of Ethereum Decentralized Platform
Security: No central point of failure, secured with cryptography, applications are protected and fortified against fraudulent or hacking attacks.
Zero Downtime: It’s not hosted on any server or cloud so application never goes down neither can they be switched off.
Immutability: There is no chance for third parties (government agencies or hackers) to change data.
Corruption Proof: Application are based on formed network (principle of consensus), this makes censorship impossible.
Decentralized Application Downsides
Smart contract are written, designed and developed by human, human aren’t faultless nor is decentralized applications. Smart contracts are as efficient as the programmer that wrote it. Oversights, bugs can lead to adverse action being taken. A mistake in the code can be exploited and this has little to no efficient way in which such attack can be mitigated aside from obtaining network consensus and rewriting the exploited (underlying) code.
How to Access Ethereum
User can plug to ethereum network by using native (Mist) browser, a user-friendly interface and digital wallet that helps traders to store ether, write, manage and deploy using smart contract. This is just the same way a web browser help user access and navigate the internet. Mist offers a portal into decentralized blockchain application.
MetaMask browser extension, it turns Google chrome into an ethereum browser, this allows user to run or develop decentralized applications from their web browser with ease.
Applications currently developed on Ethereum Network
Several projects are already in pipeline and developers are still navigating this uncharted territories as to what application will succeed or deprecated in the future. Current applications are as below:
Provenance: This applications is majorly for daily users (consumers) by making supply chain more transparent. Easily trace the origin and history of products, it aims to build an open, accessible framework of information for consumers to make informed decisions on what products to purchase.
Uport: This application helps user to control what amount of their identity or personal information. They don’t have to surrender their identity to third parties or government agencies and limit access to who can use their data.
BlockApps: This is targeting the enterprise, an easier way for them to build, manager and deploy blockchain application providing needed tools necessary to create private, semi-private and public industry-specific blockchain applications.