Launched in 2015, Ethereum is an open source blockchain platform created by Vitalik Buterin and other developers. Unlike Bitcoin, which primarily allows for cryptocurrency transactions, Ethereum is designed to extend the capabilities of blockchain technology. At its base, Ethereum is powered by its own digital currency, Ether (ETH), used for network fees and transactions. Therefore, if people are interested in trading ETH, they can look for a safe, stable and reputable cryptocurrency exchange to start their investment. However, the true potential of Ethereum lies in its ability to host autonomous contracts called smart contracts. Smart contracts encode the rules and terms of an agreement directly into code and run on the Ethereum blockchain. By making agreements tamper-proof, transparent, and highly secure, smart contracts eliminate the need for intermediaries to monitor or enforce contracts.
How do Ethereum smart contracts work?
To understand how smart contracts work, consider how a rental agreement is traditionally formed. Typically, the tenant and landlord would sign a physical contract and rely on third parties, such as lawyers, to make sure it is legally binding. With a smart contract, the tenant and landlord can create a digital agreement on Ethereum that automatically executes the terms of their contract without the need for intermediaries.
For example, the smart contract could be programmed to automatically transfer rent payments from Ann’s account to Bret’s each month, as long as certain conditions are met, such as Ann still having access to the rental property. If the conditions are not met, the smart contract will not execute the transaction, guaranteeing compliance by both parties. Since the contracts are recorded on the public Ethereum blockchain, all transactions are completely transparent and auditable.
Ethereum Real World Use Cases
Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
Ethereum and smart contracts have great potential to improve and reinvent processes in many sectors. In finance, decentralized applications or “DeFi” built on Ethereum aim to replace traditional institutions with decentralized, transparent and permissionless alternatives. For example, instead of going to a bank, people could use a DeFi lending platform on Ethereum to borrow money from other people. Smart contracts would automatically match them with a suitable lender and execute the loan agreement to ensure compliance by both parties. This makes lending faster and lowers the fees banks normally charge.
Supply chain management
Global supply chains could also benefit from Ethereum and smart contracts. Businesses can leverage Ethereum to build more efficient and secure supply chains by recording each step of a product’s journey on the blockchain. For example, a farming business could trace produce from farmer to consumer, creating an immutable record of the food’s origin and journey. This helps reduce contamination risks, ensures freshness, and allows consumers to verify the provenance of their food.
Ethereum is also suitable for managing and verifying digital identities. By storing personal information like birth certificates, passports, and driver’s licenses on the blockchain, individuals can maintain control of their data and share it only with trusted parties. For example, college students could provide proof of their qualifications to an employer using an Ethereum-based digital identity platform instead of physical documents. This simplifies verification and helps prevent fraud, since the information stored on the blockchain is immutable.
Voting systems can take advantage of Ethereum smart contracts to minimize the risks of vote manipulation and ensure integrity. For example, a town could use Ethereum to register votes in a referendum, providing a transparent and immutable voting process, while making it more accessible and efficient for all. Votes and results would be securely recorded on the blockchain, ensuring an auditable record.
Ethereum smart contracts enable asset tokenization, allowing people to create digital tokens that represent ownership of real-world assets, such as real estate, artwork, or intellectual property. These tokens can be traded on blockchain markets, allowing for fractional ownership of high-value assets. For example, instead of selling to a single buyer, an art owner could tokenize his or her work in multiple parts on Ethereum, allowing multiple investors to benefit from any increase in value without actually owning the entire work. Although still emerging, Ethereum and smart contracts have great potential to streamline countless industries in profound ways. As more developers and businesses take advantage of Ethereum, it could play a critical role in driving innovation and shaping future systems. Ultimately, Ethereum’s ability to facilitate autonomous smart contracts for large-scale decentralized global collaboration represents a technological breakthrough that could have significant implications. The possibilities of Ethereum and smart contracts seem limitless, limited only by creativity and imagination. Overall, this technology could be poised to fundamentally reinvent how commerce and corporations work in the world. As mentioned above, since Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency is ETH, many cryptocurrency users have already been trading ETH. If any cryptocurrency beginner is looking to buy ETH, CoinEx, one of the world-renowned cryptocurrency exchanges, might be a good choice for newbies due to the highly user-friendly interface and trading features offered by CoinEx. This would allow users to trade ETH and other cryptocurrencies effortlessly and in a stable manner.
Ethereum and smart contracts are revolutionizing trust, transparency and efficiency in the digital world. By enabling decentralized applications, Ethereum has opened up possibilities in sectors such as finance, supply chain management, identity management, voting, and asset tokenization. As developers and businesses embrace Ethereum, this blockchain platform could shape the future of technology and commerce. With the ability to streamline processes, reduce costs, and build trust, Ethereum can have a far-reaching impact on daily life and digital interactions. Although still an emerging technology, Ethereum and smart contracts seem poised to unlock a new era of opportunity and potential that goes far beyond cryptocurrency or finance, even to the way our society works.