Another type of physical wallet called a hardware wallet keeps credentials offline while facilitating transactions. The hardware wallet acts as a computer peripheral and signs transactions as requested by the user, who must press a button on the wallet to confirm that they intended to make the transaction. Hardware wallets never expose their private keys, keeping bitcoins in cold storage even when used with computers that may be compromised by malware.:42–45
Vitalik Buterin picked the name Ethereum after browsing Wikipedia articles about elements and science fiction, when he found the name, noting, "I immediately realized that I liked it better than all of the other alternatives that I had seen; I suppose it was the fact that sounded nice and it had the word 'ether', referring to the hypothetical invisible medium that permeates the universe and allows light to travel."
تُعتبر بيتكوين عُملة معمّاة (بالإنجليزية: cryptocurrency) ويُقصد بذلك أنها تعتمد بشكل أساسي على مبادئ التشفير في جميع جوانبها، كما أنها تُعتبر أيضا العُملة الأولى من نوعها والأكثر شهرة وانتشارًا لكن رغم ذلك ليست العُملة التشفيرية الوحيدة الموجودة على شبكة الإنترنت حاليًا. حيث يتوفر ما يزيد عن 60 عُملة تشفيرية مُختلفة منها 6 عُملات يُمكن وصفها بالرئيسية  وذلك اعتمادًا على عدد المُستخدمين وبنية كل شبكة، إضافة إلى الأماكن التي يُمكن استبدال وشراء هذه العُملات التشفيرية مُقابل عُملات أخرى. جميع العُملات التشفيرية الحالية مبنية على مبدأ عمل عُملة بيتكوين نفسها باستثناء عُملة Ripple ، وبما أن عُملة بيتكوين مفتوحة المصدر فإنه من المُمكن استنساخها وإدخال بعض التعديلات عليها ومن ثم إطلاق عُملة جديدة.
Blockchain analysts estimate that Nakamoto had mined about one million bitcoins before disappearing in 2010, when he handed the network alert key and control of the code repository over to Gavin Andresen. Andresen later became lead developer at the Bitcoin Foundation. Andresen then sought to decentralize control. This left opportunity for controversy to develop over the future development path of bitcoin, in contrast to the perceived authority of Nakamoto's contributions.
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.
Ether is a token whose blockchain is generated by the Ethereum platform. Ether can be transferred between accounts and used to compensate participant mining nodes for computations performed. Ethereum provides a decentralized virtual machine, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which can execute scripts using an international network of public nodes. The virtual machine's instruction set, in contrast to others like Bitcoin Script, is thought to be Turing-complete. "Gas", an internal transaction pricing mechanism, is used to mitigate spam and allocate resources on the network.
Several news outlets have asserted that the popularity of bitcoins hinges on the ability to use them to purchase illegal goods. Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that bitcoin's anonymity encourages money laundering and other crimes, "If you open up a hole like bitcoin, then all the nefarious activity will go through that hole, and no government can allow that." He's also said that if "you regulate it so you couldn't engage in money laundering and all these other [crimes], there will be no demand for Bitcoin. By regulating the abuses, you are going to regulate it out of existence. It exists because of the abuses."
Computing power is often bundled together or "pooled" to reduce variance in miner income. Individual mining rigs often have to wait for long periods to confirm a block of transactions and receive payment. In a pool, all participating miners get paid every time a participating server solves a block. This payment depends on the amount of work an individual miner contributed to help find that block.