Today marks six years since the launch of the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, Ethereum (CRYPTO: ETH).
The leading altcoin has seen its price appreciate by over 234,000% since its launch and had a market cap of $275 billion at the time of writing.
The decentralized open-source blockchain was first introduced to the world in a whitepaper by Vitalik Buterin in 2013 before it was officially launched two years later.
Most notably, Ethereum pioneered the concept of executing smart contracts on the blockchain. It also introduced the ERC-20 token standard, wherein other crypto tokens could be built on top of the Ethereum blockchain.
This gave rise to the creation of numerous altcoins which constitute the vast majority of the crypto market today.
Over the past year, the Ethereum ecosystem expanded significantly after the explosion of the decentralized finance (DeFi) industry and the massive boom in non-fungible token (NFT) sales.
Total value locked in DeFi protocols stood at $67.8 billion at the time of writing, up from just $4 billion one year ago. Meanwhile, data from Non-fungbile.com revealed that while monthly NFT sales were around $3.4 million in July 2020, they now exceed $202 million.
Market proponents paying attention to these developments, including institutions, appeared to favor Ethereum over Bitcoin over the past few months, as seen by its recent outperformance of several benchmark assets.
Ethereum will soon undergo some impactful changes to its protocol. The upcoming London Hard Fork will see the implementation of EIP-1559 – an upgrade where a portion of the network’s gas fees will be burned, which will vastly reduce the cost of transactions.
The network’s transition to ETH 2.0, a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, will make it more environmentally sustainable while increasing scalability and transaction speed.
At the time of writing, there are over 200,000 validators running nodes with 6.6 million ETH worth $14 billion staked in the ETH 2.0 deposit contract.
Price Action: Ethereum hit an all-time high of $4,362 earlier this year. At press time, the leading altcoin was trading at $2,341, gaining 2.20% over the past 24-hours.