Ethereum (ETH) is the second most successful cryptocurrency, and for good reason - it successfully implemented the world’s first smart contract functionality on blockchain, innovating upon the success of Bitcoin. Developers are able to use the network to build their own decentralized apps (dapps), smart contracts and even create their own cryptocurrency tokens from a number of token standards that the platform has created.
Smart contracts are best described as automated contracts that are coded to execute once a specific set of criteria have been met. Vending machines would be a simple analogy to describe how they work; they take your inserted coins, calculate the amount of change to be returned, and dispense your soda. Smart contracts execute contracts in a similar fashion by automatically executing the digital agreement once the input has been received.
Complex systems can be built with smart contracts; for instance, digital “pawn shops” that provide loans for given collateral, or even entire applications such as games or digital identity software. There is no cap on the number of ETH that will enter circulation. See the chart above depicting the ETH price data and use the Buy button to start trading.