Budge Over, Bitcoin

The Fresh York Times

Graphic | Catching Up to Bitcoin

The price of Bitcoin has hit record highs in latest months, more than doubling in price since the commence of the year. Despite these gains, Bitcoin is on the brink of losing its position as the superior virtual currency.

The value of Ether, the digital money that lives on an upstart network known as Ethereum, has risen an eye-popping Four,500 percent since the beginning of the year.

With the latest price increases, the outstanding units of the Ether currency were worth around $34 billion as of Monday — or eighty two percent as much as all the Bitcoin in existence. At the beginning of the year, Ether was only about five percent as valuable as Bitcoin.

The unexpected rise of Ethereum highlights how volatile the bewildering world of virtual currency remains, where lines of computer code can be spun into billions of dollars in a matter of months.

Bitcoin, the breakout digital currency, is also hitting fresh highs — one Bitcoin was worth $Two,600 on Monday. But the Bitcoin community has struggled with technical issues and bitter internal divisions among its fattest supporters. It has also been tainted by its association with online drug sales and hackers requiring ransom.

Against this backdrop, Ether has been gaining steam. The two-year old system has picked up backing from both tech geeks and big corporate names like JPMorgan Pursue and Microsoft, which are excited about Ethereum’s purpose of providing not only a digital currency but also a fresh type of global computing network, which generally requires Ether to use.

In a latest survey of 1,100 virtual currency users, ninety four percent were positive about the state of Ethereum, while only forty nine percent were positive about Bitcoin, the industry publication CoinDesk said this month.

If latest trends proceed, the value of Ethereum’s virtual currency could race past Bitcoin’s in the coming weeks. Virtual currency fanatics are monitoring the value of each and waiting for the two currencies to switch place, a moment that has been called “the flippening.”

“The momentum has shifted to Ethereum — there is no doubt about that,” said William Mougayar, the founder of Virtual Capital Ventures, which invests in a multiplicity of virtual currencies and start-ups. “There is almost nothing you can do with Bitcoin that you can’t do with Ethereum.”

Even tho’ most of the people buying Ether and Bitcoin are individual investors, the gains that both have experienced have taken what was until very recently a quirky fringe experiment into the field of big money. The combined value of all Ether and Bitcoin is now worth more than the market value of PayPal and is approaching the size of Goldman Sachs.

Investors buying Ether are placing a bet that people will want to use the Ethereum network’s computing capabilities and will need the currency to do so. But that is far from a sure thing. And real-world use of the network is still scant.

Bitcoin, on the other arm, has made inroads into mainstream commerce, with companies like Overstock.com and Expedia accepting Bitcoin for purchases, along with the black-market operators who use the currency.

The fact that there are fewer real-world uses for Ethereum has many market experts expecting a crash similar to the ones that have followed previous run-ups in the price of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Even during latest pullbacks, tho’, the value of Ether has generally continued to build up on Bitcoin in relative terms.

Ethereum was launched in the middle of two thousand fifteen by a 21-year-old college dropout, Vitalik Buterin, who was born in Russia and raised in Canada. He now lists his residence, jokingly, as Cathay Pacific Airlines because of his travel schedule.

The Ether he holds has made him a millionaire many times over, but he has generally avoided commenting on the price increase in Ether.

Mr. Buterin was inspired by Bitcoin, and the software he built shares some of the same basic qualities. Both are hosted and maintained by the computers of volunteers around the world, who are rewarded for their participation with the fresh digital tokens that are released onto the network each day.

Because the virtual currencies are tracked and maintained by a network of computers, no government or company is in charge. The prices of both Bitcoin and Ether are established on private exchanges, where people can sell the tokens they own at the going market price.

But Ethereum was designed to do much more than just serve as a digital money. The network of computers hooked into Ethereum can be harnessed to do computational work, essentially making it possible to run computer programs on the network, or what are referred to as decentralized applications, or Dapps. This has led to an enormous community of programmers working on the software.

One of the very first applications to take off was a user-led venture capital fund of sorts, known as the Decentralized Autonomous Organization. After raising over $150 million last summer, the project crashed and burned, and appeared ready to take Ethereum with it.

But the way that Mr. Buterin and other developers dealt with the problems, returning the hacked Ether to users, won him the respect of many in the corporate world.

“It was good to see that there is governance on Ethereum and that they can fix issues in a timely manner if they have to,” said Eric Piscini, who leads the team looking into virtual currency technology at the consulting stiff Deloitte.

Many applications being built on Ethereum are also raising money using the Ether currency, in what are known as initial coin offerings, a play on initial public offerings.

Start-ups that have followed this path have generally collected Ether from investors and exchanged them for units of their own specialized virtual currency, leaving the entrepreneurs with the Ether to convert into dollars and spend on operational expenses.

These coin offerings, which have proliferated in latest months, have created a surge of request for the Ether currency. Just last week, investors sent $150 million worth of Ether to a start-up, Bancor, that wants to make it lighter to launch virtual currencies. If projects like Bancor stumble, Ether could as well.

Several big companies have also been building programs on top of Ethereum, including the mining company BHP Billiton, which has built a trial program to track its raw materials, and JPMorgan, which is working on a system to monitor trading.

Over the last few months, over one hundred companies have joined the nonprofit Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, including global names like Toyota, Merck and Samsung, to build instruments that will make Ethereum useful in corporate settings.

Many of the companies using Ethereum are building their own private versions of the software, which won’t make use of the Ether currency. Speculators are betting that these companies will eventually cork their software into the broader Ethereum network.

There is, tho’, also the possibility that none of these big trials come to fruition, and the current excitement fizzles out, as has happened many times in the past with Bitcoin after big price surges.

“I hope this is the year where we commence to close the gap inbetween the speculative value and the actual value,” Mr. Mougayar said. “There is a lot at stake right now.”

Stir Over, Bitcoin

The Fresh York Times

Graphic | Catching Up to Bitcoin

The price of Bitcoin has hit record highs in latest months, more than doubling in price since the commence of the year. Despite these gains, Bitcoin is on the brink of losing its position as the superior virtual currency.

The value of Ether, the digital money that lives on an upstart network known as Ethereum, has risen an eye-popping Four,500 percent since the beginning of the year.

With the latest price increases, the outstanding units of the Ether currency were worth around $34 billion as of Monday — or eighty two percent as much as all the Bitcoin in existence. At the beginning of the year, Ether was only about five percent as valuable as Bitcoin.

The unexpected rise of Ethereum highlights how volatile the bewildering world of virtual currency remains, where lines of computer code can be spun into billions of dollars in a matter of months.

Bitcoin, the breakout digital currency, is also hitting fresh highs — one Bitcoin was worth $Two,600 on Monday. But the Bitcoin community has struggled with technical issues and bitter internal divisions among its thickest supporters. It has also been tainted by its association with online drug sales and hackers requesting ransom.

Against this backdrop, Ether has been gaining steam. The two-year old system has picked up backing from both tech geeks and big corporate names like JPMorgan Pursue and Microsoft, which are excited about Ethereum’s aim of providing not only a digital currency but also a fresh type of global computing network, which generally requires Ether to use.

In a latest survey of 1,100 virtual currency users, ninety four percent were positive about the state of Ethereum, while only forty nine percent were positive about Bitcoin, the industry publication CoinDesk said this month.

If latest trends proceed, the value of Ethereum’s virtual currency could race past Bitcoin’s in the coming weeks. Virtual currency fanatics are monitoring the value of each and waiting for the two currencies to switch place, a moment that has been called “the flippening.”

“The momentum has shifted to Ethereum — there is no doubt about that,” said William Mougayar, the founder of Virtual Capital Ventures, which invests in a multitude of virtual currencies and start-ups. “There is almost nothing you can do with Bitcoin that you can’t do with Ethereum.”

Even tho’ most of the people buying Ether and Bitcoin are individual investors, the gains that both have experienced have taken what was until very recently a quirky fringe experiment into the area of big money. The combined value of all Ether and Bitcoin is now worth more than the market value of PayPal and is approaching the size of Goldman Sachs.

Investors buying Ether are placing a bet that people will want to use the Ethereum network’s computing capabilities and will need the currency to do so. But that is far from a sure thing. And real-world use of the network is still scant.

Bitcoin, on the other mitt, has made inroads into mainstream commerce, with companies like Overstock.com and Expedia accepting Bitcoin for purchases, along with the black-market operators who use the currency.

The fact that there are fewer real-world uses for Ethereum has many market experts expecting a crash similar to the ones that have followed previous run-ups in the price of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Even during latest pullbacks, however, the value of Ether has generally continued to build up on Bitcoin in relative terms.

Ethereum was launched in the middle of two thousand fifteen by a 21-year-old college dropout, Vitalik Buterin, who was born in Russia and raised in Canada. He now lists his residence, jokingly, as Cathay Pacific Airlines because of his travel schedule.

The Ether he holds has made him a millionaire many times over, but he has generally avoided commenting on the price increase in Ether.

Mr. Buterin was inspired by Bitcoin, and the software he built shares some of the same basic qualities. Both are hosted and maintained by the computers of volunteers around the world, who are rewarded for their participation with the fresh digital tokens that are released onto the network each day.

Because the virtual currencies are tracked and maintained by a network of computers, no government or company is in charge. The prices of both Bitcoin and Ether are established on private exchanges, where people can sell the tokens they own at the going market price.

But Ethereum was designed to do much more than just serve as a digital money. The network of computers hooked into Ethereum can be harnessed to do computational work, essentially making it possible to run computer programs on the network, or what are referred to as decentralized applications, or Dapps. This has led to an enormous community of programmers working on the software.

One of the very first applications to take off was a user-led venture capital fund of sorts, known as the Decentralized Autonomous Organization. After raising over $150 million last summer, the project crashed and burned, and appeared ready to take Ethereum with it.

But the way that Mr. Buterin and other developers dealt with the problems, returning the hacked Ether to users, won him the respect of many in the corporate world.

“It was good to see that there is governance on Ethereum and that they can fix issues in a timely manner if they have to,” said Eric Piscini, who leads the team looking into virtual currency technology at the consulting rigid Deloitte.

Many applications being built on Ethereum are also raising money using the Ether currency, in what are known as initial coin offerings, a play on initial public offerings.

Start-ups that have followed this path have generally collected Ether from investors and exchanged them for units of their own specialized virtual currency, leaving the entrepreneurs with the Ether to convert into dollars and spend on operational expenses.

These coin offerings, which have proliferated in latest months, have created a surge of request for the Ether currency. Just last week, investors sent $150 million worth of Ether to a start-up, Bancor, that wants to make it lighter to launch virtual currencies. If projects like Bancor stumble, Ether could as well.

Several big companies have also been building programs on top of Ethereum, including the mining company BHP Billiton, which has built a trial program to track its raw materials, and JPMorgan, which is working on a system to monitor trading.

Over the last few months, over one hundred companies have joined the nonprofit Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, including global names like Toyota, Merck and Samsung, to build devices that will make Ethereum useful in corporate settings.

Many of the companies using Ethereum are building their own private versions of the software, which won’t make use of the Ether currency. Speculators are betting that these companies will eventually buttplug their software into the broader Ethereum network.

There is, tho’, also the possibility that none of these big trials come to fruition, and the current excitement fizzles out, as has happened many times in the past with Bitcoin after big price surges.

“I hope this is the year where we embark to close the gap inbetween the speculative value and the actual value,” Mr. Mougayar said. “There is a lot at stake right now.”

Budge Over, Bitcoin

The Fresh York Times

Graphic | Catching Up to Bitcoin

The price of Bitcoin has hit record highs in latest months, more than doubling in price since the begin of the year. Despite these gains, Bitcoin is on the edge of losing its position as the superior virtual currency.

The value of Ether, the digital money that lives on an upstart network known as Ethereum, has risen an eye-popping Four,500 percent since the beginning of the year.

With the latest price increases, the outstanding units of the Ether currency were worth around $34 billion as of Monday — or eighty two percent as much as all the Bitcoin in existence. At the beginning of the year, Ether was only about five percent as valuable as Bitcoin.

The unexpected rise of Ethereum highlights how volatile the bewildering world of virtual currency remains, where lines of computer code can be spun into billions of dollars in a matter of months.

Bitcoin, the breakout digital currency, is also hitting fresh highs — one Bitcoin was worth $Two,600 on Monday. But the Bitcoin community has struggled with technical issues and bitter internal divisions among its largest supporters. It has also been tainted by its association with online drug sales and hackers requiring ransom.

Against this backdrop, Ether has been gaining steam. The two-year old system has picked up backing from both tech geeks and big corporate names like JPMorgan Pursue and Microsoft, which are excited about Ethereum’s purpose of providing not only a digital currency but also a fresh type of global computing network, which generally requires Ether to use.

In a latest survey of 1,100 virtual currency users, ninety four percent were positive about the state of Ethereum, while only forty nine percent were positive about Bitcoin, the industry publication CoinDesk said this month.

If latest trends proceed, the value of Ethereum’s virtual currency could race past Bitcoin’s in the coming weeks. Virtual currency fanatics are monitoring the value of each and waiting for the two currencies to switch place, a moment that has been called “the flippening.”

“The momentum has shifted to Ethereum — there is no doubt about that,” said William Mougayar, the founder of Virtual Capital Ventures, which invests in a multiplicity of virtual currencies and start-ups. “There is almost nothing you can do with Bitcoin that you can’t do with Ethereum.”

Even however most of the people buying Ether and Bitcoin are individual investors, the gains that both have experienced have taken what was until very recently a quirky fringe experiment into the area of big money. The combined value of all Ether and Bitcoin is now worth more than the market value of PayPal and is approaching the size of Goldman Sachs.

Investors buying Ether are placing a bet that people will want to use the Ethereum network’s computing capabilities and will need the currency to do so. But that is far from a sure thing. And real-world use of the network is still scant.

Bitcoin, on the other palm, has made inroads into mainstream commerce, with companies like Overstock.com and Expedia accepting Bitcoin for purchases, along with the black-market operators who use the currency.

The fact that there are fewer real-world uses for Ethereum has many market experts expecting a crash similar to the ones that have followed previous run-ups in the price of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Even during latest pullbacks, however, the value of Ether has generally continued to build up on Bitcoin in relative terms.

Ethereum was launched in the middle of two thousand fifteen by a 21-year-old college dropout, Vitalik Buterin, who was born in Russia and raised in Canada. He now lists his residence, jokingly, as Cathay Pacific Airlines because of his travel schedule.

The Ether he holds has made him a millionaire many times over, but he has generally avoided commenting on the price increase in Ether.

Mr. Buterin was inspired by Bitcoin, and the software he built shares some of the same basic qualities. Both are hosted and maintained by the computers of volunteers around the world, who are rewarded for their participation with the fresh digital tokens that are released onto the network each day.

Because the virtual currencies are tracked and maintained by a network of computers, no government or company is in charge. The prices of both Bitcoin and Ether are established on private exchanges, where people can sell the tokens they own at the going market price.

But Ethereum was designed to do much more than just serve as a digital money. The network of computers hooked into Ethereum can be harnessed to do computational work, essentially making it possible to run computer programs on the network, or what are referred to as decentralized applications, or Dapps. This has led to an enormous community of programmers working on the software.

One of the very first applications to take off was a user-led venture capital fund of sorts, known as the Decentralized Autonomous Organization. After raising over $150 million last summer, the project crashed and burned, and appeared ready to take Ethereum with it.

But the way that Mr. Buterin and other developers dealt with the problems, returning the hacked Ether to users, won him the respect of many in the corporate world.

“It was good to see that there is governance on Ethereum and that they can fix issues in a timely manner if they have to,” said Eric Piscini, who leads the team looking into virtual currency technology at the consulting rock-hard Deloitte.

Many applications being built on Ethereum are also raising money using the Ether currency, in what are known as initial coin offerings, a play on initial public offerings.

Start-ups that have followed this path have generally collected Ether from investors and exchanged them for units of their own specialized virtual currency, leaving the entrepreneurs with the Ether to convert into dollars and spend on operational expenses.

These coin offerings, which have proliferated in latest months, have created a surge of request for the Ether currency. Just last week, investors sent $150 million worth of Ether to a start-up, Bancor, that wants to make it lighter to launch virtual currencies. If projects like Bancor stumble, Ether could as well.

Several big companies have also been building programs on top of Ethereum, including the mining company BHP Billiton, which has built a trial program to track its raw materials, and JPMorgan, which is working on a system to monitor trading.

Over the last few months, over one hundred companies have joined the nonprofit Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, including global names like Toyota, Merck and Samsung, to build implements that will make Ethereum useful in corporate settings.

Many of the companies using Ethereum are building their own private versions of the software, which won’t make use of the Ether currency. Speculators are betting that these companies will eventually buttplug their software into the broader Ethereum network.

There is, tho’, also the possibility that none of these big trials come to fruition, and the current excitement fizzles out, as has happened many times in the past with Bitcoin after big price surges.

“I hope this is the year where we embark to close the gap inbetween the speculative value and the actual value,” Mr. Mougayar said. “There is a lot at stake right now.”

Budge Over, Bitcoin

The Fresh York Times

Graphic | Catching Up to Bitcoin

The price of Bitcoin has hit record highs in latest months, more than doubling in price since the begin of the year. Despite these gains, Bitcoin is on the brink of losing its position as the superior virtual currency.

The value of Ether, the digital money that lives on an upstart network known as Ethereum, has risen an eye-popping Four,500 percent since the beginning of the year.

With the latest price increases, the outstanding units of the Ether currency were worth around $34 billion as of Monday — or eighty two percent as much as all the Bitcoin in existence. At the beginning of the year, Ether was only about five percent as valuable as Bitcoin.

The unexpected rise of Ethereum highlights how volatile the bewildering world of virtual currency remains, where lines of computer code can be spun into billions of dollars in a matter of months.

Bitcoin, the breakout digital currency, is also hitting fresh highs — one Bitcoin was worth $Two,600 on Monday. But the Bitcoin community has struggled with technical issues and bitter internal divisions among its thickest supporters. It has also been tainted by its association with online drug sales and hackers requiring ransom.

Against this backdrop, Ether has been gaining steam. The two-year old system has picked up backing from both tech geeks and big corporate names like JPMorgan Pursue and Microsoft, which are excited about Ethereum’s aim of providing not only a digital currency but also a fresh type of global computing network, which generally requires Ether to use.

In a latest survey of 1,100 virtual currency users, ninety four percent were positive about the state of Ethereum, while only forty nine percent were positive about Bitcoin, the industry publication CoinDesk said this month.

If latest trends proceed, the value of Ethereum’s virtual currency could race past Bitcoin’s in the coming weeks. Virtual currency fanatics are monitoring the value of each and waiting for the two currencies to switch place, a moment that has been called “the flippening.”

“The momentum has shifted to Ethereum — there is no doubt about that,” said William Mougayar, the founder of Virtual Capital Ventures, which invests in a multiplicity of virtual currencies and start-ups. “There is almost nothing you can do with Bitcoin that you can’t do with Ethereum.”

Even however most of the people buying Ether and Bitcoin are individual investors, the gains that both have experienced have taken what was until very recently a quirky fringe experiment into the area of big money. The combined value of all Ether and Bitcoin is now worth more than the market value of PayPal and is approaching the size of Goldman Sachs.

Investors buying Ether are placing a bet that people will want to use the Ethereum network’s computing capabilities and will need the currency to do so. But that is far from a sure thing. And real-world use of the network is still scant.

Bitcoin, on the other arm, has made inroads into mainstream commerce, with companies like Overstock.com and Expedia accepting Bitcoin for purchases, along with the black-market operators who use the currency.

The fact that there are fewer real-world uses for Ethereum has many market experts expecting a crash similar to the ones that have followed previous run-ups in the price of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Even during latest pullbacks, however, the value of Ether has generally continued to build up on Bitcoin in relative terms.

Ethereum was launched in the middle of two thousand fifteen by a 21-year-old college dropout, Vitalik Buterin, who was born in Russia and raised in Canada. He now lists his residence, jokingly, as Cathay Pacific Airlines because of his travel schedule.

The Ether he holds has made him a millionaire many times over, but he has generally avoided commenting on the price increase in Ether.

Mr. Buterin was inspired by Bitcoin, and the software he built shares some of the same basic qualities. Both are hosted and maintained by the computers of volunteers around the world, who are rewarded for their participation with the fresh digital tokens that are released onto the network each day.

Because the virtual currencies are tracked and maintained by a network of computers, no government or company is in charge. The prices of both Bitcoin and Ether are established on private exchanges, where people can sell the tokens they own at the going market price.

But Ethereum was designed to do much more than just serve as a digital money. The network of computers hooked into Ethereum can be harnessed to do computational work, essentially making it possible to run computer programs on the network, or what are referred to as decentralized applications, or Dapps. This has led to an enormous community of programmers working on the software.

One of the very first applications to take off was a user-led venture capital fund of sorts, known as the Decentralized Autonomous Organization. After raising over $150 million last summer, the project crashed and burned, and appeared ready to take Ethereum with it.

But the way that Mr. Buterin and other developers dealt with the problems, returning the hacked Ether to users, won him the respect of many in the corporate world.

“It was good to see that there is governance on Ethereum and that they can fix issues in a timely manner if they have to,” said Eric Piscini, who leads the team looking into virtual currency technology at the consulting hard Deloitte.

Many applications being built on Ethereum are also raising money using the Ether currency, in what are known as initial coin offerings, a play on initial public offerings.

Start-ups that have followed this path have generally collected Ether from investors and exchanged them for units of their own specialized virtual currency, leaving the entrepreneurs with the Ether to convert into dollars and spend on operational expenses.

These coin offerings, which have proliferated in latest months, have created a surge of request for the Ether currency. Just last week, investors sent $150 million worth of Ether to a start-up, Bancor, that wants to make it lighter to launch virtual currencies. If projects like Bancor stumble, Ether could as well.

Several big companies have also been building programs on top of Ethereum, including the mining company BHP Billiton, which has built a trial program to track its raw materials, and JPMorgan, which is working on a system to monitor trading.

Over the last few months, over one hundred companies have joined the nonprofit Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, including global names like Toyota, Merck and Samsung, to build instruments that will make Ethereum useful in corporate settings.

Many of the companies using Ethereum are building their own private versions of the software, which won’t make use of the Ether currency. Speculators are betting that these companies will eventually buttplug their software into the broader Ethereum network.

There is, tho’, also the possibility that none of these big trials come to fruition, and the current excitement fizzles out, as has happened many times in the past with Bitcoin after big price surges.

“I hope this is the year where we commence to close the gap inbetween the speculative value and the actual value,” Mr. Mougayar said. “There is a lot at stake right now.”

Budge Over, Bitcoin

Budge Over, Bitcoin. Ether Is the Digital Currency of the Moment.

A virtual currency called Ether has been growing alongside Bitcoin in the last year to $35 billion, compared with Bitcoin’s $43 billion.

The price of Bitcoin has hit record highs in latest months, more than doubling in price since the commence of the year. Despite these gains, Bitcoin is on the brink of losing its position as the superior virtual currency.

The value of Ether, the digital money that lives on an upstart network known as Ethereum, has risen an eye-popping Four,500 percent since the beginning of the year.

With the latest price increases, the outstanding units of the Ether currency were worth around $34 billion as of Monday — or eighty two percent as much as all the Bitcoin in existence. At the beginning of the year, Ether was only about five percent as valuable as Bitcoin.

The unexpected rise of Ethereum highlights how volatile the bewildering world of virtual currency remains, where lines of computer code can be spun into billions of dollars in a matter of months.

Bitcoin, the breakout digital currency, is also hitting fresh highs — one Bitcoin was worth $Two,600 on Monday. But the Bitcoin community has struggled with technical issues and bitter internal divisions among its largest supporters. It has also been tainted by its association with online drug sales and hackers requiring ransom.

Against this backdrop, Ether has been gaining steam. The two-year old system has picked up backing from both tech geeks and big corporate names like JPMorgan Pursue and Microsoft, which are excited about Ethereum’s objective of providing not only a digital currency but also a fresh type of global computing network, which generally requires Ether to use.

In a latest survey of 1,100 virtual currency users, ninety four percent were positive about the state of Ethereum, while only forty nine percent were positive about Bitcoin, the industry publication CoinDesk said this month.

If latest trends proceed, the value of Ethereum’s virtual currency could race past Bitcoin’s in the coming weeks. Virtual currency fanatics are monitoring the value of each and waiting for the two currencies to switch place, a moment that has been called “the flippening.”

“The momentum has shifted to Ethereum — there is no doubt about that,” said William Mougayar, the founder of Virtual Capital Ventures, which invests in a diversity of virtual currencies and start-ups. “There is almost nothing you can do with Bitcoin that you can’t do with Ethereum.”

Even tho’ most of the people buying Ether and Bitcoin are individual investors, the gains that both have experienced have taken what was until very recently a quirky fringe experiment into the sphere of big money. The combined value of all Ether and Bitcoin is now worth more than the market value of PayPal and is approaching the size of Goldman Sachs.

Investors buying Ether are placing a bet that people will want to use the Ethereum network’s computing capabilities and will need the currency to do so. But that is far from a sure thing. And real-world use of the network is still scant.

Bitcoin, on the other palm, has made inroads into mainstream commerce, with companies like Overstock.com and Expedia accepting Bitcoin for purchases, along with the black-market operators who use the currency.

The fact that there are fewer real-world uses for Ethereum has many market experts expecting a crash similar to the ones that have followed previous run-ups in the price of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Even during latest pullbacks, tho’, the value of Ether has generally continued to build up on Bitcoin in relative terms.

Ethereum was launched in the middle of two thousand fifteen by a 21-year-old college dropout, Vitalik Buterin, who was born in Russia and raised in Canada. He now lists his residence, jokingly, as Cathay Pacific Airlines because of his travel schedule.

The Ether he holds has made him a millionaire many times over, but he has generally avoided commenting on the price increase in Ether.

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Mr. Buterin was inspired by Bitcoin, and the software he built shares some of the same basic qualities. Both are hosted and maintained by the computers of volunteers around the world, who are rewarded for their participation with the fresh digital tokens that are released onto the network each day.

Because the virtual currencies are tracked and maintained by a network of computers, no government or company is in charge. The prices of both Bitcoin and Ether are established on private exchanges, where people can sell the tokens they own at the going market price.

But Ethereum was designed to do much more than just serve as a digital money. The network of computers hooked into Ethereum can be harnessed to do computational work, essentially making it possible to run computer programs on the network, or what are referred to as decentralized applications, or Dapps. This has led to an enormous community of programmers working on the software.

One of the very first applications to take off was a user-led venture capital fund of sorts, known as the Decentralized Autonomous Organization. After raising over $150 million last summer, the project crashed and burned, and appeared ready to take Ethereum with it.

But the way that Mr. Buterin and other developers dealt with the problems, returning the hacked Ether to users, won him the respect of many in the corporate world.

“It was good to see that there is governance on Ethereum and that they can fix issues in a timely manner if they have to,” said Eric Piscini, who leads the team looking into virtual currency technology at the consulting rock-hard Deloitte.

Many applications being built on Ethereum are also raising money using the Ether currency, in what are known as initial coin offerings, a play on initial public offerings.

Start-ups that have followed this path have generally collected Ether from investors and exchanged them for units of their own specialized virtual currency, leaving the entrepreneurs with the Ether to convert into dollars and spend on operational expenses.

These coin offerings, which have proliferated in latest months, have created a surge of request for the Ether currency. Just last week, investors sent $150 million worth of Ether to a start-up, Bancor, that wants to make it lighter to launch virtual currencies. If projects like Bancor stumble, Ether could as well.

Several big companies have also been building programs on top of Ethereum, including the mining company BHP Billiton, which has built a trial program to track its raw materials, and JPMorgan, which is working on a system to monitor trading.

Over the last few months, over one hundred companies have joined the nonprofit Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, including global names like Toyota, Merck and Samsung, to build instruments that will make Ethereum useful in corporate settings.

Many of the companies using Ethereum are building their own private versions of the software, which won’t make use of the Ether currency. Speculators are betting that these companies will eventually butt-plug their software into the broader Ethereum network.

There is, however, also the possibility that none of these big trials come to fruition, and the current excitement fizzles out, as has happened many times in the past with Bitcoin after big price surges.

“I hope this is the year where we commence to close the gap inbetween the speculative value and the actual value,” Mr. Mougayar said. “There is a lot at stake right now.”

A version of this article shows up in print on June 20, 2017, on Page B1 of the Fresh York edition with the headline: Budge Over, Bitcoin. It’s Ether’s Turn To Win Fans. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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