Even its fans often struggle to explain the benefits of ethereum, but one thing is for certain, it has rocketed in popularity – and price – in recent months. The total value of all the ether in circulation is now $27.8 billion (£21.4bn), against $55.7 billion (£43bn) for bitcoin.

What affects its price? 

The price of ethereum has climbed more slowly than bitcoin since it launched, holding steady at around $10 for the first 18 months. Then in March 2017 it started to climb steadily, hitting a peak of $395 in June before plummeting to $155 a month later and then rising again.

The rise was in no small part thanks to a spike in the value of bitcoin, which fuelled interest in online currencies. It has also received high profile backing in recent months from large organisations, including Microsoft, JP Morgan and Intel.  

Its dramatic dips in the past have been related to security concerns and general market wobbles, including sell-offs by big investors or a rush of fake news. In July the price of ethereum dropped more than 20 per cent in a day following a drop in confidence and a rumour later proved false that founder Buterin had died. 

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