Ethereum is the name of the public blockchain network whose native token is Ether (ETH). The network, unlike Bitcoin, acts like a decentralized computer using a "Turing complete" language, which allows it to process advanced computations.
Ethereum's computational functionality means developers can write and deploy smart contracts on the network. These digital agreements automatically execute when predefined conditions are met, and they form the backbone of decentralized applications, or "DApps," on the network.
The Ethereum network went live in 2015. However, it was not until 2017 that it started to attract wider attention. That year, the network became the dominant platform for launching initial coin offerings, which helped drive ETH's price to more than $1,400 during the 2017 crypto bull market.
More recently, Ethereum has been the main blockchain supporting the emerging decentralized finance sector — i.e., a growing number of DApps allowing permissionless access to a host of financial services. This adoption has also had a positive impact on Ethereum price.
Ethereum currently uses a proof-of-work algorithm to reach consensus among its distributed network of nodes. However, the ongoing Ethereum 2.0 upgrade will transition the network to a less resource-intensive consensus mechanism called proof-of-stake.
Rather than relying on power-hungry hardware, proof-of-stake requires Ethereum transaction validators to lock at least 32 ETH in a staking smart contract. The network then selects stakers at random to process and confirm transactions and computations.
A staker receives newly minted ETH for correctly validating transactions, while any attempts at network manipulation result in the stake being "slashed," or lost. The OKX platform provides easy access to ETH staking without the hassle of setting up an Ethereum staking node yourself.