Nothing ethereal about ethereum 

Chris Nuttall in London 


The ethereum blockchain has come to prominence over the past year, with its underpinning of the non-fungible token (NFT) craze and of the creation of decentralised finance projects (DeFi). 

So could ethereum be the future of the internet? asks Richard Waters.

It could become the platform of choice for what has become known as Web 3.0, where a series of decentralised apps could one day challenge Big Tech’s offerings. 

“Sixty to 70 per cent of the industry runs on ethereum. 

It’s very sticky,” says Sandeep Nailwal, co-founder of Polygon, one of a growing number of companies that operate on top of ethereum.

As a result, the price of ethereum’s currency, known as ether or eth, which is used to pay for the computing power needed to run the blockchain, has jumped ninefold. 

At around $350bn, the outstanding tokens on ethereum are now worth more than 40 per cent as much as all the bitcoin in issue, more than double the proportion of a year ago.

Line chart of $ per token showing Ethereum's recent rally

The investment world is still trying to figure out the role ethereum will play, but plenty are prepared to facilitate trading. 

Joshua Oliver reports Robinhood’s decision not to expand into Europe has created an army of contenders on this continent, led by Germany’s Trade Republic. 

Several of the apps integrate crypto. German robo adviser Scalable Capital, which has branched out into stock and crypto trading, says crypto is no longer considered “something super freaky” among younger investors.

Bubble chart showing the scale of startup fundraising by five companies in 2021

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