Ethereum Back Above $1 Billion As 'Hard Fork' Succeeds

Cryptocurrency and "smart contracts" system Ethereum appeared to conduct a successful hard fork this morning, according to early network metrics and industry watchers.

San Francisco-based Bitcoin wallet & services firm Coinbase, which has 4.1 million customers around the world, congratulated Ethereum's team on the high tech, high stakes cryptographic maneuver:

Ether markets rallied broadly after the fork, sending the total market capitalization of the #2 cryptocurrency after Bitcoin itself back above US $1 billion for the first time since a third party project, the DAO, was hacked back in June.

A vulnerability allowed an attacker to move more than $50 million of Ether into a DAO "contract" of his or her own making, but the attacker was not able to move the funds off Ethereum's network itself. This software upgrade or "fork" plugs that particular set of vulnerabilities and restores the $50 million of Ether to its rightful owners - should they choose to withdraw it and recover it.

It is worth noting that Ethereum is a bit like a decentralized app store that runs on a blockchain, and the DAO was like an app in that store malfunctioning. The app store's security and viability weren't comprised, just that one app's. So perhaps this explains why the Ether markets are rallying in response to the hard fork.

Since I reported on it yesterday, hack.ether.camp's $50,000 competition has seen 202 'Hackers' sign up. These 'hackers' - or app coders - will compete for a first prize of $50,000 paid out in Bitcoin, Ether, or any other major cryptocurrency of the winner's choice. The competition has 13 judges sitting on its panel, including one of Ethereum's founders.

Wondering how this newcomer Ethereum compares to the pioneering cryptocurrency, Bitcoin? What makes it so different? Watch my recent video explaining some of the key differences below:

Full disclosure: Not financial advice, provided for educational purposes only. Not intended as a recommendation to buy or sell any cryptocurrency or asset. At time of publication, I do hold some bitcoins and ethers in my long term portfolio.