Ethereum, as we have previously explored, operates as more than just a digital asset. It offers a pretty impressive amount of utility for developers. Making use of its public blockchain and smart contracts system means that these same users can leverage it to make any of a wide range of different decentralized apps (dApps).
So how many of these dApps are operating on top of Ethereum? Quite a lot, actually. The most recent estimates range from 1,900 to nearly 3,000 different dApps, all ranging from token exchanges, information repositories, to video games.
With this in mind, what can developers actually make on Ethereum? And what are some of the big dApps? Let's take a look.
There has been a continuous push and pull between regulatory agencies and crypto exchanges all over the world. But not all of them are created equal, as evidenced between centralized and decentralized coin exchanges.
Take Coinbase, for example. As a centralized exchange, this means that it's beholden to the US Government and, by extension, the SEC. For users, this means that in order to sign in and trade crypto: you'll need to go through Anti-Money Laundering Checks and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations. For those just looking to buy crypto, this can be seen as overly intrusive.
Zip over to decentralized exchanges like Kyber Network, which operates as a token swapping solution, but can also be plugged into other dApps on Ethereum.
Unlike Coinbase, you can set up an account using Google, Facebook, and even Telegram. Once you've done this, you can easily sync it up to your digital wallet or a private key to trade and even loan our crypto assets.
It allows you to do all of this without any of the, often cumbersome and intrusive KYC and AML policies.
Other Decentralized exchanges on Ethereum include IDEX, UniSwap and Augur.
One of the more altruistic applications of blockchain technology is what companies like Facebook's Libra have been targetting more recently. Which is providing those in developing and underprivileged areas the means with which to accumulate wealth, whether or not they live near a bank.
Known as the Un-Banked, Libra represented a truly centralized iteration, being hailed as a potential saviour for this sizeable population, or condemned for the danger that it represents.
For some, Libra may come off as the first of its kind, but the reality is that this kind of solution has existed on top of Ethereum for some time. With stablecoins like MakerDAO and financial dApps like Omise-Go have provided users with the ability to accrue money without the need of any kind of centralized institution.
So, let's break down these two dApps. Firstly, MakerDAO is a decentralized (depending on who you speak to) stablecoin that users can buy and sell on for other kinds of digital assets, assured in the knowledge that the DAI (MakerDAO's ERC20 token) is backed by a reserve of US Dollars.
Omise-Go, on the other hand, is a broader financial solution, providing its users with a clear and easy way to trade digital assets and currencies through its peer to peer network and decentralized exchange. In addition to this, the OMG network operates as a 'clearinghouse' for transactions too. Meaning that users can side-step a lot of market volatility without the need for a third party.
With mobile apps, games are sure to follow quickly behind. With names like 'Angry Birds,' 'Candy Crush,' and more. But the same is true of dApps, with game titles like CryptoKitties, Gods Unchained and My Crypto Heroes being among some of the most popular titles on ETH.
So what is it that blockchain games bring to the table that conventional ones don't? One of them is the kind of sovereignty that it gives to the player. In a game like World of Warcraft - items that you earn, buy or win can be subjected to sudden re-balancing. Which means that a once powerful, expensive item can get 'nerfed' and lose that earlier value.
With dApps like CryptoKitties, a first-generation NFT (Non-Fungible Token) is immutable. Meaning that even if the development team wanted to, they couldn't make any changes to that item.
While these are just three examples of the kinds of things that developers can create on top of Ethereum, feel free to share your own go-to dApps!