Ethereum is a blockchain platform that in many ways is similar to the bitcoin blockchain. If you don’t know what bitcoin or a blockchain is you can find definitions here. Ethereum, like bitcoin, has a blockchain and has a currency associated with it, ether.
The killer feature in Ethereum though is the ability for programmers to make smart contracts. Smart contracts are agreements that are executed by code. There are many practical use cases for smart contracts. For example, a tenant can agree to pay the landlord every fifth of the month and this arrangement can be coded in a computer script as opposed to a legal agreement.
It is harder to create smart contracts on the bitcoin blockchain, because the blockchain is not Turing complete. Ethereum has been a true breakthrough in extending the capabilities of blockchain technology.
Zcash is a cryptocurrency that is completely anonymous. What does this mean? Well let’s first look at the problem it’s trying to solve. Users can tell where bitcoins originated from on the blockchain. Bitcoins are transparent and all transactions can be viewed on a public ledger. Zcash have two different type of coins, zerocoins and basecoins. Basecoins are similar to bitcoins as in which they contain public information about the payment’s origin, destination, and amount. Zerocoins, obscure all of this information- making these transactions secret. This is done by using the zero-knowledge proof.
Counterparty is a one stop platform where you can obtain a bitcoin wallet, create your own coin, and create a smart contract that runs on the bitcoin blockchain. A key selling point of CounterParty is that you can mint your own coin or make a smart contract without code.
CounterParty can create trading cards that have real value. Gamers playing the Spells of Genesis can take trading cards and transfer them into bitcoins. Another important feature of CounterParty is that you can issue a limited amount of coins or “assets”. The built in scarcity can make the asset more valuable. Think of it as supply and demand in the cryptoworld. Assets that are in high demand but low supply are more expensive than widely available assets.
Looking Forward in 2017
2016 was a big year for the world of cryptocurrency and the blockchain. I predict that in 2017 Ethereum, Zcash, and CounterParty will bring even more public awareness to the value and benefits of blockchain technology.