Ethereum is the second largest cryptocurrency, next to Bitcoin. Ethereum project was started in 2015 and its value has skyrocketed more than 6,800% since the start of 2017.
How is Ethereum different from Bitcoin
Ethereum uses a blockchain similar to bitcoin yet that’s where the similarity with bitcoin ends. Ethereum is more suited to transactions because it can produce blocks faster than bitcoin blocks. Yet the power of Ethereum is in the fact that it supports not only currency transactions, it also supports all sorts of other applications, called dapps (distributed apps) to be run on its network, which empowers businesses and individuals in new ways. Startups are also using Ethereum as part of initial coin offerings which might include smart contracts – a feature of Ethereum.
One way of getting Ethereum is to mine it. Like bitcoin mining, ether mining validates transactions on the Ethereum network and generates ether. You generate ether by running special software on a powerful computer that has a powerful graphics card in it. Unlike bitcoin mining, which uses specialized computers called ASICs for mining, ether mining is accessible to home and hobbyist users because you can use regular PC hardware and graphics cards.
To start mining, you need a powerful computer that has powerful graphics cards. As for 2017, the suggested and popular graphics cards are AMD Radeon RX 470 Graphics Card and AMD Radeon RX 480 Graphics Card. The computer configuration could be an Intel i5 processor with 8gb RAM and a reasonably sized hard drive. The computer’s power supply is important and should be sized to accommodate the graphics cards (you use more than one graphics card for mining – usually between 2 and 5 graphics cards).
You can also get into ether mining by using a cloud mining service. You pay for the use of the cloud miner’s hardware and electricity, and the cloud mining service generates a return for you based on mining. The more popular cloud mining services are Genesis Mining and HashFlare. Many Ethereum experts say cloud mining is not necessary since people can afford their own hardware; however, you may still opt for cloud mining if you don’t want a computer with noisy fans running 24/7 at home.
Ethereum mining is said to change the bitcoin-like proof of work algorithm to the Proof of Stake algorithm in the near future, which may change the whole mining business of Ethereum.
Buy Ethereum on an Exchange
Another way to get Ethereum is to buy it on an exchange. The most popular exchanges, which trade Ethereum are Kraken, Coindesk, and CEX.io. You setup an account on these exchanges and you can then convert your regular fiat money like dollars into ether. You can pay by bank transfer or credit card. The exchange handles the details of matching your buy order with a seller and then transfers the ether into your account.
Work for Ethereum
A popular way of getting Ethereum is to work for it or sell something: it’s low risk, and there’s little stopping you from getting started. You trade your skills as a service or trade something you have for ether. There are many websites where there are people willing to pay ether for your goods or services; however, since the market is smaller than bitcoin’s market, you may find that there are fewer opportunities.
Your Ethereum wallet
Once you’ve earned all that ether, you need to keep it in a wallet, preferably an erc20 Ethereum wallet. Refer to our other article about Best Ethereum Wallets for more details.