Alternatives to Bitcoin
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The most well-known cryptocurrency is BitCoin, but in this course, we will introduce you to some other alternatives out there in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. These include Litecoin, Binance Coin, Ethereum, Ripple, Steem, Ethereum classic, and Monero.


Let's talk about Ethereum in this lecture, which is a cryptocurrency discussed almost all the time. It has been a pioneer for many ICO's that have come as of recent times. So, to begin with, the question many people weren't answering is the following. What exactly is Ethereum? This is especially true of the matter if you've just come across the term. So, what we're going to be doing in this episode is just that breaking down Ethereum, so you understand it at its core. Let's dive into it. Now at the most high level basic point, Ethereum is an open-source software platform based upon blockchain technology. What that then empowers others to do is build and deploy decentralized applications upon it. I'll get into some of the applications that can be built upon it later in this lecture. But as mentioned that a high-level basic point, that's why Ethereum is. Naturally, we'll now come the question, especially if you're looking at this as an investment, how similar is Ethereum to Bitcoin? Well, let me explain as many still don't understand the key difference between the two. Other than that they can be both traded on exchanges, they both have very different technological approaches when it comes to how they utilize their respective distributed public blockchain networks. Let's start with Bitcoin. So, Bitcoin offers one key role with the use of its Blockchain technology. If you've been through my Bitcoin related courses, you'll be aware of this and it's peer-to-peer payments using Bitcoin often within 10 minutes and with minimal transaction fees attached. However, as of 2017, the network with Bitcoin did have scaling issues. Hence, it took longer and consequently costed more so that was like a growth issue as it was coming to its inception and being used more. But now it's cheap, still very cheap in the grand scheme of things with the introduction of the lightning network. Now, just so you're aware, there are two parties with Bitcoin, one that consider a store of value like a digital gold, another that see as a day-to-day currency replacing your fiat currency. Now with Ethereum, this is inherently different in its approach. The Ethereum blockchain focuses on running the programming code of any decentralized application. On top of that, it has its own cryptocurrency ether which is used to fuel the network of transactions that get processed. Of course, you can still trade the cryptocurrency, but the main purpose for its creation was so that decentralized blockchain app developers could pay for transaction fees and services on the Ethereum network. That leads me nicely into my next point. What exactly can Ethereum be useful? Well, as mentioned, Ethereum focuses on running the programming code of any decentralized application. It helps developers deploy their decentralized apps. So, just think of all the middlemen you have to go through when generally going through a services process. Developers with the help of Ethereum can remove all that and decentralized centralized services which are not controlled by any single entity. You might ask what the benefit of that, and in general, the Ethereum platform is? Well, let me go over four key advantages with you here. So, here it goes. One, it's secure. Don't worry, I'm not going to leave it there, I'm expanding on it. So, as mentioned, it is secure. But how? While decentralized applications built upon Ethereum have no central point of failure, which makes it almost impossible for hackers to corrupt. The next advantage is immutability. So, due to the way the dapps, which is short for decentralized applications are created, a third party can't just come in and make any changes they wish, it's all programmed in.  Hence, changes can't be made by third parties. Next up, it's corruption proof. So, all the decentralized applications built upon Ethereum are based around the distinct fact that they allow principals of a consensus, hence, as mentioned, making it virtually impossible to corrupt. Then finally, Ethereum is based decentralized applications come with zero downtime. It's important to know this that these applications can't just go down, it's a 24/7/365 network. So, definitely a key selling point when it comes to this ecosystem. But remember this point now, so I did mention that Ethereum is super secure and so on, but there is a downside, but it's more human error than anything. So, if let's say a decentralized application or smart contract built upon Ethereum has huge flaws in its code, this is where someone with not so good intentions can exploit it. Then the only way to stop that exploitation is to rewrite the underlying code. So, yeah, human error, that is a downside here. But that's the reason why it's open-source and created the way it is. You can read the code and make sure everything looks good from your end before maybe pledging funds. Now, just to end on this lecture, let me touch on some Ethereum decentralized applications that you can actually go and check out right now. So, the most popular Bi-Fi, my personal opinion, well anyway, the one that many would have seen if they look through the market capitalization of cryptocurrencies is Augur. So, basically Augur is an open-source predictions and forecasting market where anyone can forecast events and if correct, get rewarded with Augur which is the name of their cryptocurrency as well. It's a real neat idea. So, you could predict, like who's going to win the next World Cup, who's going to be the next Formula 1 World Champion, the next president of the United States, and so much more. It's a really interesting concept, but that's just one big project built upon Ethereum. There are a whole host of others. If you want to check out other projects that are being built upon this amazing technology, check out this link here. It's a great insight into just how widespread the use is becoming. So, it's simply dapps.ether casts. So, definitely, check that out. See all the dapps. Now, I hope you gained a ton of value from this lecture. See you in the next one, where we'll be discussing Ripple.


About the Author
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Ravinder is an expert instructor in the field of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, having helped thousands of people learn about the subject. He's also the founder of B21 Block, an online cryptocurrency and blockchain school.