Using Ethereum’s “Turing complete” smart contract language, Solidity, developers are able to deploy a set of instructions to the blockchain that operate indefinitely with a high degree of finality and fraud-resistance. With the first block being mined in July 2015, Ethereum has since become the largest smart contract platform of its kind, and the second largest blockchain of all time as measured by market capitalization.
Physical wallets store the credentials necessary to spend bitcoins offline and can be as simple as a paper printout of the private key;[7]:ch. 10 a paper wallet. A paper wallet is created with a keypair generated on a computer with no internet connection; the private key is written or printed onto the paper[g] and then erased from the computer. The paper wallet can then be stored in a safe physical location for later retrieval. Bitcoins stored using a paper wallet are said to be in cold storage.[99]:39 In a 2014 interview, QuadrigaCX founder Gerald Cotten explained that the company stored customer funds on paper wallets in safe deposit boxes: "So we just send money to them, we don’t need to go back to the bank every time we want to put money into it. We just send money from our Bitcoin app directly to those paper wallets, and keep it safe that way."[100]
لضمان صحّة عمليات التحويل، يقوم نظام البيتكوين بالاحتفاظ بسجل حسابات تُسجل فيه جميع الإجراءات التي تتم على الشبكة يُطلق عليه اسم سلسلة الكُتل (بالإنجليزية: block chain). تتشارك جميع العُقد المتواجدة على شبكة البيتكوين هذا السجل عبر نظام يعتمد على بروتوكول بِتكُيِن. تحتوي سلسلة الكُتل على جميع الإجراءات التي تمت باستخدام بِتكُيِن، وهو ما يُمكن من معرفة الرصيد الذي يملكه كل عنوان على هذه الشبكة. يُطلق على هذا المفهوم وصف السلسلة للترابط المتواجد ما بين الكُتل، حيث تحتوي كل كُتلة على هاش الكُتلة التي تسبقها ويتواصل الأمر إلى غاية الوصول إلى الكُتلة الأولى التي يُطلق عليها اسم "كتلة التكوين" (بالإنجليزية: genesis block) . تكوين السلسلة بهذه الطريقة يجعل من مهمة تغيير أي كُتلة بعد مرور مُدة مُعينة على إنشائها في غاية الصعوبة، حيث أن تغيير أي كُتلة يتطلب تغيير كل الكُتل التي تليها بسبب الحاجة إلى إعادة حساب هاش كل كُتلة لتحديث قيمة هاش الكُتلة السابقة فيها. هذه الخاصية هي ما يجعل من مُشكل الإنفاق المُتكرر لنفس العُملات في غاية الصعوبة على بِتكُيِن، بل ويُمكن اعتبار سلسلة الكُتل العمود الفقري الذي لا يُمكن لعُملة بِتكُيِن الوقوف من دونه[10].
^ Beikverdi, A.; Song, J. (June 2015). Trend of centralization in Bitcoin's distributed network. 2015 IEEE/ACIS 16th International Conference on Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Networking and Parallel/Distributed Computing (SNPD). pp. 1–6. doi:10.1109/SNPD.2015.7176229. ISBN 978-1-4799-8676-7. Archived from the original on 26 January 2018.
Various journalists,[205][210] economists,[211][212] and the central bank of Estonia[213] have voiced concerns that bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme. In April 2013, Eric Posner, a law professor at the University of Chicago, stated that "a real Ponzi scheme takes fraud; bitcoin, by contrast, seems more like a collective delusion."[214] A July 2014 report by the World Bank concluded that bitcoin was not a deliberate Ponzi scheme.[215]:7 In June 2014, the Swiss Federal Council[216]:21 examined the concerns that bitcoin might be a pyramid scheme; it concluded that, "Since in the case of bitcoin the typical promises of profits are lacking, it cannot be assumed that bitcoin is a pyramid scheme." In July 2017, billionaire Howard Marks referred to bitcoin as a pyramid scheme.[217]
While another less aggressive soft fork solution was put forth, the Ethereum community and its founders were placed in a perilous position. If they didn’t retrieve the stolen investor money, confidence in Ethereum could be lost. On the other hand, recovering investor money required actions that went against the core ideas of decentralization and set a dangerous precedent.
Ethereum was officially with an unusually long list of founders. Anthony Di Iorio wrote "Ethereum was founded by Vitalik Buterin, Myself, Charles Hoskinson, Mihai Alisie, & Amir Chetrit (the initial 5) in December 2013. Joseph Lubin, Gavin Wood, & Jeffrey Wilke were added in early 2014 as founders." Formal development of the Ethereum software project began in early 2014 through a Swiss company, Ethereum Switzerland GmbH (EthSuisse).[13][14] The basic idea of putting executable smart contracts in the blockchain needed to be specified before the software could be implemented; this work was done by Gavin Wood, then chief technology officer, in the Ethereum Yellow Paper that specified the Ethereum Virtual Machine.[15] Subsequently, a Swiss non-profit foundation, the Ethereum Foundation (Stiftung Ethereum), was created as well. Development was funded by an online public crowdsale during July–August 2014, with the participants buying the Ethereum value token (ether) with another digital currency, bitcoin.

Bitcoin is pseudonymous, meaning that funds are not tied to real-world entities but rather bitcoin addresses. Owners of bitcoin addresses are not explicitly identified, but all transactions on the blockchain are public. In addition, transactions can be linked to individuals and companies through "idioms of use" (e.g., transactions that spend coins from multiple inputs indicate that the inputs may have a common owner) and corroborating public transaction data with known information on owners of certain addresses.[120] Additionally, bitcoin exchanges, where bitcoins are traded for traditional currencies, may be required by law to collect personal information.[121] To heighten financial privacy, a new bitcoin address can be generated for each transaction.[122]

Nigel Dodd argues in The Social Life of Bitcoin that the essence of the bitcoin ideology is to remove money from social, as well as governmental, control.[131] Dodd quotes a YouTube video, with Roger Ver, Jeff Berwick, Charlie Shrem, Andreas Antonopoulos, Gavin Wood, Trace Meyer and other proponents of bitcoin reading The Declaration of Bitcoin's Independence. The declaration includes a message of crypto-anarchism with the words: "Bitcoin is inherently anti-establishment, anti-system, and anti-state. Bitcoin undermines governments and disrupts institutions because bitcoin is fundamentally humanitarian."[131][130]
Ethereum was announced at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami, in January, 2014.[9] During the same time as the conference, a group of people rented a house in Miami Gavin Wood, Charles Hoskinson, and Anthony Di Iorio, a Torontonian who financed the project.[9] Di Iorio invited friend Joseph Lubin, who invited reporter Morgen Peck, to bear witness.[9] Six months later the founders met again in a house in Zug Switzerland, where Buterin told the founders that the project would proceed as a non-profit. Hoskinson left the project at that time.[9]
Researchers have pointed out at a "trend towards centralization". Although bitcoin can be sent directly from user to user, in practice intermediaries are widely used.[32]:220–222 Bitcoin miners join large mining pools to minimize the variance of their income.[32]:215, 219–222[115]:3[116] Because transactions on the network are confirmed by miners, decentralization of the network requires that no single miner or mining pool obtains 51% of the hashing power, which would allow them to double-spend coins, prevent certain transactions from being verified and prevent other miners from earning income.[117] As of 2013 just six mining pools controlled 75% of overall bitcoin hashing power.[117] In 2014 mining pool obtained 51% hashing power which raised significant controversies about the safety of the network. The pool has voluntarily capped their hashing power at 39.99% and requested other pools to act responsibly for the benefit of the whole network.[118] Between 2017 and 2019 over 70% of the hashing power and 90% of transactions were operating from China.[119]