Most cryptocurrency headlines this year have followed Bitcoin and Dogecoin, but May might be Ethereum’s month. The cryptocurrency, which is more widely used than Bitcoin, hit $3,000 for the first time on Sunday, before passing $3,500 on Thursday. One year ago each token was worth $211.
The Ethereum blockchain was founded in 2013 by Canadian-Russian programmer Vitalik Buterin when he was just 19 years old. Buterin has over 333,000 Ether tokens — it’s possible to see other traders’ portfolios if you have their wallet address — which at the current price values his holdings at over $1.1 billion.
The cryptocurrency now has a marketcap of over $400 billion. It’s been growing rapidly over the past year, mostly over anticipation for its relaunch as Ether 2.0, but this latest rally is tied to news last week that the European Investment Bank issued $120 million (€100 million) in bonds using Ethereum blockchain. DogeCoin also hit a new high of nearly 70 cents this week following its listing on eToro.
While Bitcoin is the most well known cryptocurrency, costing $57,000 per token and with a market cap of over a trillion dollars, it’s almost entirely used as a speculative asset that people can buy or sell. Ether, a cryptocurrency built on the ethereum blockchain, is the most widely used digital currency in crypto trading. Underneath Bitcoin and Ethereum are tens of thousands of “altcoins,” similar to pennystocks, which are mostly traded using Ether. NFTs, tokens that authenticate ownership of a digital product, are notably bought and sold using Ether, not Bitcoin.
Coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum have grown substantially since the end of 2020 for many reasons, including big tech’s increasing embrace of cryptocurrency and the IPO success of Coin Base. Ethereum’s price has also grown in anticipation of Ether 2.0, which will change the fundamental way in which tokens are minted. Without getting lost in the technical mumbo jumbo — you can read here if you’re interested in the difference between Proof of Work and Proof of Stake — ether 2.0 promises to be more efficient, which will be good for traders and the planet.