تسمح تطبيقات بيتكوين والتي يُطلق عليها أحيانا اسم عميل بيتكوين للمُستخدمين بالتعامل مع شبكة بيتكوين. في شكله القاعدي يسمح التطبيق بتوليد وحفظ مفاتيح خاصة بالمُستخدم والاتصال بشبكة الند للند الخاص بالعُملة. تم إطلاق أول تطبيق بيتكوين سنة 2009 من طرف ساتوشي ناكاموتو مُؤسس عُملة بيتكوين كتطبيق مجاني ومفتوح المصدر. يُستخدم هذا التطبيق -والذي يُطلق عليه عادة اسم تطبيق ساتوشي- كمحفظة على الحواسيب الشخصية للقيام بعمليات دفع إلكترونية أو كخادوم لاستقبال تلك المدفوعات ولخدمات أخرى مُتعلقة بالدفع. أما تطبيق Bitcoin-Qt فيتم اعتباره كتطبيق مرجعي بحكم أنه يُمثل الآلية التي يعمل من خلالها بروتوكول بيتكوين ويُعتبر مثالا يُحتذى به لغيره من التطبيقات. لدى القيام بعمليات شراء باستخدام الهواتف الذكية فإنه عادة ما يتم استخدام تطبيقات بيتكوين تقوم بتوليد و/أو قراءة QR codes لتسهيل مهمة التحويل والدفع. كما تتوفر حاليا عدة تطبيقات تعمل كخواديم تقوم بتأكيد الإجراءات التي تتم على الشبكة وتقوم بإضافتها كتلة تحويلات.
It takes a (global) village to raise a blockchain. The live network and the community of open source developers contribute significantly to this effort. They continuously refine and harden the Ethereum platform, helping it get faster at responding to industry demands for the value propositions it offers. These investments of time and resources speak to their faith in Ethereum governance and the value that businesses and developers see in its capabilities. – Joseph Lubin, CEO of Consensys
Bitcoin prices were negatively affected by several hacks or thefts from cryptocurrency exchanges, including thefts from Coincheck in January 2018, Coinrail and Bithumb in June, and Bancor in July. For the first six months of 2018, $761 million worth of cryptocurrencies was reported stolen from exchanges. Bitcoin's price was affected even though other cryptocurrencies were stolen at Coinrail and Bancor as investors worried about the security of cryptocurrency exchanges.
Bloomberg reported that the largest 17 crypto merchant-processing services handled $69 million in June 2018, down from $411 million in September 2017. Bitcoin is "not actually usable" for retail transactions because of high costs and the inability to process chargebacks, according to Nicholas Weaver, a researcher quoted by Bloomberg. High price volatility and transaction fees make paying for small retail purchases with bitcoin impractical, according to economist Kim Grauer. However, bitcoin continues to be used for large-item purchases on sites such as Overstock.com, and for cross-border payments to freelancers and other vendors.
Ethereum-based customized software and networks, independent from the public Ethereum chain, are being tested by enterprise software companies. Interested parties include Microsoft, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Deloitte, R3, Innovate UK (cross-border payments prototype). Barclays, UBS and Credit Suisse are experimenting with Ethereum blockchain to automate Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) II requirements.
To be accepted by the rest of the network, a new block must contain a proof-of-work (PoW). The system used is based on Adam Back's 1997 anti-spam scheme, Hashcash. The PoW requires miners to find a number called a nonce, such that when the block content is hashed along with the nonce, the result is numerically smaller than the network's difficulty target.:ch. 8 This proof is easy for any node in the network to verify, but extremely time-consuming to generate, as for a secure cryptographic hash, miners must try many different nonce values (usually the sequence of tested values is the ascending natural numbers: 0, 1, 2, 3, ...:ch. 8) before meeting the difficulty target.
This dramatic volatility attracted global attention with the mainstream media running near-daily reports on the price of Ether. The publicity generated has been a major boon for the ecosystem, attracting thousands of new developers and business ventures alike. In 2018 the amount raised through Ethereum-enabled ICOs reached almost $8bn, increasing from just $90m in 2016. While the price of Ethereum has faced extreme volatility over the years, it is this volatility which has driven interest. After every boom and bust cycle, Ethereum comes out the other side with a fundamentally stronger platform and a broader developer community backing it. These fundamental improvements would suggest a positive long-term outlook on the price of Ethereum.
In Ethereum all smart contracts are stored publicly on every node of the blockchain, which has costs. Being a blockchain means it is secure by design and is an example of a distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault tolerance. The downside is that performance issues arise in that every node is calculating all the smart contracts in real time, resulting in lower speeds. As of January 2016, the Ethereum protocol could process about 25 transactions per second. In comparison, the Visa payment platform processes 45,000 payments per second leading some to question the scalability of Ethereum. On 19 December 2016, Ethereum exceeded one million transactions in a single day for the first time.
Ethereum was proposed in late 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, a cryptocurrency researcher and programmer. Development was funded by an online crowdsale that took place between July and August 2014. The system then went live on 30 July 2015, with 72 million coins "premined". This accounts for about 68 percent of the total circulating supply in 2019. 
The U.S. federal investigation was prompted by concerns of possible manipulation during futures settlement dates. The final settlement price of CME bitcoin futures is determined by prices on four exchanges, Bitstamp, Coinbase, itBit and Kraken. Following the first delivery date in January 2018, the CME requested extensive detailed trading information but several of the exchanges refused to provide it and later provided only limited data. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission then subpoenaed the data from the exchanges.