Before we get some ether, we need a place to put it. This brings us to the idea of an Ethereum wallet. Like its real world counterpart, an ethereum wallet is made to store value. (It is common to use lowercase letters for ethereum or ether when referring to the currency, and Ethereum for the network or protocol.
Most wallets are digital apps accessible from a smartphone or laptop. Furthermore, these digital wallets store digital money in the form of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and ether. Ethereum wallets store a user’s private keys, which are secret keys that can be used to access ether. Each key is a uniquely long and jumbled string of letters and numbers that looks like this:
Only owners of the private keys spend the money attached to them.
How can I buy ether?
The easiest way to get ether is to k open through a broker or exchange like Binance
Popular exchanges like Binance allow users to buy ether directly with dollars. Usually there is an application process. These exchanges usually comply with Know-Your-Customer (KYC) laws, which means they must confirm a user’s identity before they can purchase cryptocurrencies from the platform.
Buying ether with a currency other than the dollar can take an extra step.
Bitcoin is the most widely used cryptocurrency, and people around the world are more likely to trade in their currencies for it. So if you want to buy ether for, say, Russian rubles, an easy option is to buy Bitcoin on an exchange and then exchange it for ether. That said, at https://ethereum.org/en/ they offer a list of buying options based on the country you are living in.
What can I do with Ethereum?
What can users do once they have ether? Once you have ether, you can use it to fuel decentralized apps (often referred to as “dapps”), which are often similar to apps we use today, except they are intended to take middlemen out of the picture. These dapps are based on Ethereum smart contracts, code that automatically executes the terms of an agreement, so users don’t have to rely on a third party to enforce the rules.
Examples of decentralized applications are :
- CryptoKitties: a game for collecting and breeding funny looking digital cats. Ethereum’s innovation is that it gives users more control over their digital collectibles. For example, the digital cat cannot be removed, unlike other games where the collectibles survive only as long as the company that created them. https://www.cryptokitties.co/
- PeepEth: PeepEth is a decentralized Twitter alternative. Twitter has the option to delete accounts and tweets if the company finds them unfavorable. PeepEth is different: while moderators keep the main feed free of spam and inappropriate posts, “peeps” posted on PeepEth cannot be removed. https://peepeth.com/welcome
- DeFi: Decentralized Financing (DeFi) is the term for the series of financial applications built on top of ethereum. Some Ethereum apps have their own token derived from ether. To participate in this, users must trade in ether for the token that powers the app. For example, Decentraland is a virtual world where users can buy virtual plots of land. It differs from games that don’t use blockchain in that users control the game rather than a central entity.
Top DeFi tokens
Ethereum apps are meant to help people give them more control over their online data.
Using these apps is a matter of learning to buy, store and use the original token, ether. If the Ethereum protocol, also known as the ‘world computer’, is developed as its proponents expect, it could provide alternatives to technical platforms, such as Facebook and Google, on which many people have come to depend. In general, those alternatives would give users more control over their digital information.
However, there are costs associated with this: gas fees. Every action on an Ethereum app, even as small as posting a short message on a microblogging platform, takes a little bit of ether. Ether fees allow users to take advantage of a variety of apps on the platform. These apps, also known as decentralized apps (dapps), are not free because the Ethereum platform’s computing resources are limited. The more people use the platform, the higher the costs. Since the number of services currently communicating with Ethereum is relatively high, so are the costs.
In this regard, Ethereum is still a work in progress. A network upgrade, Ethereum 2.0, is being phased in to address Ethereum’s underlying scalability issues. That will, in theory, lower fees while enhancing network security. Ethereum apps may not be as intuitive as the apps we use today, but anyone with a computer or smartphone can access them, as long as they have ether.
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