Ethereum was conceived as a platform for decentralised applications.
Bitcoin’s scripting language was too narrow, and lacked the versatility of increasingly ambitious developers. Ethereum then filled the gap, by combining a complete scripting language with a blockchain.
Without a robust ecosystem of Dapps, to many, Ethereum is not accomplishing its promise. Ethereum itself is still very young, as it is on the bleeding edge. More time is required for it to mature.
However, there is a burgeoning ecosystem of decentralised applications. Some of the top ones are:
This is the darling of the Ethereum ecosystem. It is regularly cited as Ethereum’s killer application. Coming from Bitcoin, killer application talk is always bluster. I was a little sceptical, just because of this bias, so I just put that aside.
Augur attempts accurate forecasting via a decentralised, voluntary group of participants. Users are rewarded for correctly predicting the outcome of an event. Users buy and sell shares in the event outcome. The market price then becomes an estimate of the outcome occurring. This ‘wisdom of the crowd’ approach needs a lot of participants to work properly.
It is clearly the most slick, well funded, maintained and developed DApp in the ecosystem at the moment.
Bitcoiners will recognise this game immediately. The design is clearly an unashamed clone of original SatoshiDICE.
By many metrics SatoshiDICE is still the most successful Bitcoin enterprise to date. vDice Gameplay is exactly the same. Behind the scenes it functions quite differently to original SatoshiDICE.
Leveraging the power of smart contracts, the game has no server architecture. Bets process through an oracle, using a third party for randomness. The instructions are very short. Anyone in Bitcoin up to 2013 would already know how to play.
Gambling is still one of the biggest industries for Bitcoin. With the unique properties of Ethereum, it would be reasonable to expect the same.
Options are contracts that grant buyers the right to buy or sell an asset at a certain price either on or before a certain date. There is no obligation to exercise this right, since they are perfectly suited and easily ported to a Smart Contract environment.
EtherOPT is the best implementation we’ve seen available to the public. There is not a great amount of trading activity at the moment, but it is live. It is fully functioning with a welcoming interface. However, it is lacking in a lot of explainer material which would help with its growth and success.
Smart Contracts need oracles, which are a way of getting outside information into the Blockchain.
A lot of Dapps use and will use oracles. The best and most advanced in the ecosystem is Oraclize, a bridge between smart contracts and the internet. This is currently the go-to team for oracle services on Ethereum. In addition, Oraclize just won first place at the London Fintech Week Hackathon and has built a hefty suite of useful tools.
While not strictly a DApp itself, Oraclize and its expert team have become a key infrastructure.
This is an asset tokenisation service built on Ethereum. They’ve developed a suite of token services, but we’ll focus on the Gold Token.
Digix.io are offering physical gold bullion on the blockchain, more specifically, digital tokens linked to real world physical assets. Theoretically speaking you’ll be receiving the best of both worlds. Of course, nothing is perfect and anything that exists in the physical realm will always suffer from the threat of counterparty risk. This is still a well executed and elegant solution.
As Ethereum grows, the DApp ecosystem can be expected to mature. Criticisms that the valuation of the underlying token is inflated have some merit. It would be difficult to pinpoint a billion dollars of real economic activity occurring on the network. In turn, markets are working on achieving a fair price for anything.