Ethereum allows for the creation of complex, yet decentralised, economic tools like financial derivatives, in which two parties can bet on the rise and fall of an asset, or crop insurance that pays out to a farmer according to a weather data feed. Creating decentralised versions of Dropbox or eBay should be possible too, claims Buterin.
Other developers are attempting to copy Buterin’s success by overlaying new code on the existing Bitcoin block chain. One example is the concept of “coloured” coins: with bitcoins labelled to represent other assets such as gold, cars or even houses, you transfer ownership when you trade the labelled coin.
Buterin says Ethereum is much more flexible. “Bitcoin is great as a form of digital money, but its scripting language is too weak for any kind of serious advanced applications to be built on top.”
One of the more advanced concepts being touted for a next-generation Bitcoin is the idea of decentralised autonomous corporations (DAC) – companies with no directors. These would follow a pre-programmed business model and are managed entirely by the block chain. In this case the block chain acts as a way for the DAC to store financial accounts and record shareholder votes.
In a way, Bitcoin is actually the first DAC, says Daniel Larimer, a developer in Blacksburg, Virginia. People who own bitcoins are shareholders in the company, which offers financial services, earns revenue through transaction fees and pays a salary to its employees, the miners. But no one is in charge.
Here is my previous post on Ethereum.