Ethereum is having a moment.
Coinbase, a bitcoin-only exchange, is planning to add support for ethereum, the company said today (May 19). Coinbase exchange users will be able to buy and sell ether, the virtual currency unit behind ethereum starting Tuesday, May 24. Ether is currently trading at about $14 USD (bitcoin is trading at around $448 USD). Sources say Coinbase had been considering adding ethereum for some time. Earlier today, a screenshot of a support page for ether was published by a cryptocurrency trader on Twitter, then appeared on social media site Reddit.
Ethereum is a digital currency similar to bitcoin. Such currencies, based on software, allow people to transact anonymously and freely without a middleman involved.
Created by 22-year-old software developer Vitalik Buterin, ethereum has a particular property that’s excited companies: smart contracts. Smart contracts are essentially agreements between two parties that can execute automatically, without human involvement. Unlike bitcoin, ethereum natively supports smart contracts. Proponents say smart contracts can cut costs and reduce human error. They have gained support from JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, and even the state of Delaware.
IBM has explored using Ethereum to help Internet of Things devices interact with each other.