What is Ethereum?
Ethereum can essentially be viewed as a virtual machine running on top of a blockchain. It allows for computing power to be distributed amongst it’s entire public network, which means no downtime. Users can create applications that run on this network, in exchange for some of the Ethereum cryptocurrency, appropriately called Ether. Essentially users give Ether in exchange for computing power.
Smart contracts are used to develop and run these applications – hassle and maintenance free. Smart contracts are pieces of code that allow predetermined events to unfold, if particular conditions are met. Smart contracts can (and will) be used for nearly any case that physical contracts are used, including mortgages, securities, and insurance.