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Ethereum vs Ether: What's the difference?
Ether is the native token of Ethereum, a smart contracts platform which developers can use to build and deploy decentralised applications. However, despite this fact, it’s quite common to see the platform’s currency also referred to as Ethereum across crypto exchanges and online.
If you’re new to the world of cryptocurrency, you’ll most likely find that buying ETH direct with GBP is the easiest option. However, we’ve also included instructions on how to buy ETH using another cryptocurrency (in this case bitcoin) if that is your preferred approach.
Buying Ether with GBP
There are several exchanges that allow you to buy Ether with GBP, so make sure you compare the features and fees of a range of platforms before deciding which one you’d like to use.
For this example, we’ll show you how to buy ETH with GBP on Uphold.
Step 1. Register for an account with Uphold
Visit the Uphold website and click on the “Sign Up” button in the top right corner of the page. You can then sign up for an account by providing:
Your email address
Your phone number
Proof of ID
Proof of residency
A photo of yourself holding a signed statement
Make sure you enable 2-factor authentication on your account before moving on to step 2.
Step 2. Deposit GBP into your account
When logged in to your Uphold account, click on the “Deposit GBP” link visible from the account dashboard.
Step 3. Buy Ether
Once the funds have arrived in your account, click the “Buy/Sell” tab at the top of the screen and select “Ethereum” from the list of currencies. Next, click the “Buy Ethereum” link and then specify either the amount of ETH you want to buy or the amount of GBP you’d like to spend.
Make sure you double-check the details and total cost of your transaction before clicking “Buy”.
Buying Ether with another cryptocurrency
If you want to exchange another cryptocurrency for ETH, there are myriad exchanges that allow you to do so. Make sure you compare the features and fees of a range of platforms before deciding which one you’d like to use.
To provide a clear example of exactly how to buy ETH with another cryptocurrency, let’s look at how to complete this transaction on Binance.
Step 1. Buy BTC
While Ether can be purchased using a number of popular cryptocurrencies, bitcoin is the easiest to acquire and trade.
If you already have some BTC, skip ahead to step 2. If you don’t, you can find step-by-step instructions on how to acquire some in our guide to buying bitcoin.
Step 2. Register for a Binance account
Navigate to the Binance website and click the “Register” link at the top right of screen. You can then sign up for an account by entering your email address and creating a password. Remember to activate 2-factor authentication before proceeding to step 3.
In addition, please be aware that if you want a higher account withdrawal limit than 2 BTC, you’ll need to provide proof of ID.
Step 3. Deposit BTC into your Binance account
If your bitcoin is already stored on Binance, skip ahead to step 4.
However, if your BTC is stored on another exchange or in a bitcoin wallet, you’ll need to find the address of your Binance wallet so you can transfer the BTC into your trading account.
To do this, you’ll need to log in to your Binance account, click the “Funds” drop-down menu and then select “Deposits”. Choose bitcoin from the list of supported currencies and copy the wallet address or scan the QR code provided.
This is the destination address you must use to send a BTC deposit to Binance from your private wallet.
Step 4. Buy Ether
Now it’s time to click the “Exchange” tab near the top left of screen and choose the “Basic” trading view. Use the search box provided to find the BTC/ETH trading pair and then choose a limit, market or stop-limit order.
Enter the amount of Ether you want to purchase, but remember to review all the details of the transaction before clicking “Buy ETH”.
How to sell Ether
If you want to sell your ETH tokens, the good news is that they can be exchanged for an extensive range of digital and fiat currencies on many different exchanges.
The selling process is similar to the buying process outlined above in step 4, except for the key difference that you’ll need to enter your transaction details in the “Sell” field.
While some people choose to store their crypto tokens in their exchange account, this is not recommended. As exchanges are regular targets for hackers and thieves, it’s generally considered a much safer option to move your ETH tokens into a wallet which allows you to retain full control of your private keys.
Happily, there are heaps of choices available when searching for an Ethereum wallet. Options you might like to consider include:
Launched in 2015, Ethereum is an open-source blockchain platform which developers can use to build and run decentralised applications (dapps). Its key feature is that it allows developers to create smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts that automatically complete tasks when specific conditions are met. As an example, a basic smart contract could say, “pay John $50 if he emails me a 10-page report on pet obesity by 30 November 2018”.
These smart contracts are executed by the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which is powered by a decentralised international network of nodes. In the real world, Ethereum can be used to power dapps and smart contracts across a diverse range of industries, including everything from finance and insurance to supply chain management, betting and file storage.
Ether is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network. It is used by developers to pay for transaction fees and services on Ethereum, and can also be traded on a wide range of crypto exchanges.
Cryptocurrencies are complicated and volatile assets, and buying any digital coin or token comes with a high level of risk attached. Before you buy, make sure you do plenty of research and that you recognise those factors that could potentially drive the price of a crypto asset either up or down
If you’re thinking of buying Ether, consider the following factors first:
Supply. According to CoinMarketCap, at time of writing (October 2018) the circulating supply of ETH was 102,883,734. Unlike bitcoin, Ether does not have a maximum supply cap limit but instead an annual issuance capped at 18,000,000 ETH per year. Find out more in our guide to the ETH inflation rate.
Move to proof-of-stake. Though it started life as a proof-of-work cryptocurrency, Ethereum will soon be shifting to a proof-of-stake system as part of the Casper update. Designed to improve scalability and tackle centralisation, Casper’s success (or otherwise) will have a big impact on the future of Ethereum.
Market leader. As it stands, Ethereum has the biggest profile of all the dapps platforms currently in existence. Thanks to its early-mover advantage, Ether is the world’s second largest digital currency in terms of market cap and the Ethereum platform is synonymous with the development of dapps.
Competition. However, Ethereum is also operating in an increasingly competitive market sector. NEO, Lisk, EOS and Cardano are just some of the dapp platforms that look set to compete with Ethereum in the future.
Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA). The EEA is a non-profit corporation that aims to accelerate the adoption of Ethereum’s blockchain technology by businesses. If it can successfully drive increased use of Ethereum, this could potentially lead to increased demand for ETH.
Yes. Sites like Coinbase and Bitit allow you to buy ETH using your credit card.
The tightening of Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering (KYC/AML) laws in the UK and other countries around the world means it’s increasingly difficult to acquire cryptocurrency without providing ID. However, you may be able to trade ETH on a decentralised exchange that doesn’t require customers to provide any personal details, or by using a peer-to-peer marketplace like Localethereum.
Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly
volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of
future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information.
You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory
requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may
have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ADA, ICX, IOTA and XLM.
Andrew Munro is the cryptocurrency editor at Finder. He was initially writing about insurance, when he accidentally fell in love with digital currency and distributed ledger technology (aka “the blockchain”). Andrew has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales, and has written guides about everything from industrial pigments to cosmetic surgery.
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