Since it’s inception in 2011, Ethereum has taken the world by storm, becoming the second most traded cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. When prices hit an all time high of $1200 in January 2018, people began to take notice, and wonder if they too should buy Ethereum.
What is Ethereum?
First of all, let’s review what Ethereum is and does. Ethereum is a platform for building blockchain applications. The creator, Vitalik Buterin, created Ethereum to be a program to fill the shortcomings he found when working with the Bitcoin blockchain. Just like Bitcoin, Ethereum is a digital currency, but beyond just preserving digital value, it also allows users to control their own data, instead of being spied on by applications. Ethereum is not controlled by any company or individual, and unlike Bitcoin, it is programmable, which means it can be used to build applications.
What Can I Do With Ethereum?
One of the important things to consider before buying Ethereum (or Eth) is to know what you can do with it once you make your purchase. The uses of Eth vary widely, but one of the most common uses is to use an application built on Ethereum. Some of these apps can be useful for financial or work purposes, while others are just for fun or entertainment.
Let’s start with the apps that are useful for every day life. First, there is Brave, a web and mobile browser built on Eth that can help keep your browsing private from mega corporations like Google. Also check out Alethio, which is an app that will analyze blockchain data for you. If you’re big into music, there’s a streaming platform powered by Ethereum known as Ujo. Not only is Ujo used for music distribution, but it also licenses artists and manages their royalties.
Now let’s talk about Ethereum apps that help with “productivity” or work. If you work in digital advertising, be sure to check out AdChain, which is an Ethereum app that will help you optimize your adverts. For those in the art industry, I recommend checking out RARE, a virtual art market verified by blockchain technology. Along these lines, there’s also OpenSea, which is a digital marketplace for all sorts of crypto collectibles and rare items if you’re interested in purchasing those sorts of items. Shifting more towards the finance end, there are apps such as Settle and BlockFi, which offer different financial products for lending crypto and maintaining financial accounts. If you’re looking to make money, there are also apps like Ethlance, where you can find jobs that will pay you in Eth. Depending on what field you work or operate your business in, different apps will be more or less useful to you than others.
Looking for an app that’s a little less work and a little more fun? Then download Cryptokitties. Cryptokitties is an app that allows you to purchase a virtual cat with Ethereum and then buy items to clothe and feed this cat. Certain cats are more rare than others and can be sold or traded for better and more desirable kitties. Virtual cats not your thing? Also check out Etheremon, similar to Pokémon, you can use your eth to purchase monsters and then battle them against your friends. You can also trade your monsters with friends. (If monsters and kitties aren’t your thing, check out ZED where you can do all of the above—but with horses!)
I am only covering a few of the hundreds of Ethereum apps available here, if you wish to learn more, and see a full list of Ethereum apps, check out this article on Consensys.
Beyond apps, you can also gamble with Ethereum. Many online casinos such as MintDice are outfitting their games to be played with cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin. These casinos are nice because they allow you to remain completely anonymous when gambling. Besides just gambling, you can also invest your Ethereum on some of these sites and watch it grow.
You can also use Ethereum to buy and trade alt coins. For those of you who don’t know what alt coins are, they are cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin that usually serve specialized purposes. While investing in alt coins can make you money, it is also extremely risky, and make sure you thoroughly investigate any alt coin before you buy into it.
So…Should I Buy It?
Did you read a use above which appeals to you? If so, then yes! Purchasing Ethereum is definitely for you. But in order to purchase Ethereum you have to have somewhere to store Ethereum.
This is where a wallet comes in handy. And no, I don’t mean the leather one that goes in your back pocket. In order to hold your Ethereum you need to download a compatible digital wallet. One of the best ones for user friendliness is Coinbase. They make it very easy to attach the app to your bank and purchase Ethereum directly with a card or bank account. Another app recommended for beginners is Edge. Both Edge and Coinbase are mobile compatible and can be easily accessible wherever you are. If you prefer something that isn’t an app, the highest rated hardware Ethereum wallet on the market is a Ledger. These can be ordered directly from the company but will cost you about one hundred US dollars. If that also doesn’t appeal to you, there are many more options for wallets, check out 99Bitcoins for a full list.
Now that you’ve decided to buy Ethereum, and you have a proper wallet, you’re probably wondering when you should take the leap and make an investment in Eth. This decision is really up to you as the investor. You want to follow the basic market rule of “buy low, sell high” but as with most cryptocurrencies, these market points can be hard to judge or predict.
However, in recent news, Ethereum is fixing a lot of the scalability problems that caused the massive crash from $1500 a token to $200 in 2018 and more corporations, such as Fidelity bank are starting to take interest in Ethereum, so keep that in mind as you look at making your investment.
Overall, deciding to invest in Ethereum is a personal financial decision, and make sure you investigate all of the risks and rewards before you decide to commit.