Not that long ago we told you about a new cryptocurrency called Ethereum that was just about to launch. Now that day is almost here. Ethereum was originally scheduled to launch Jan. 24, but it's been pushed back to February 1st.

There are many digital currencies out there now and we wanted to dig a little deeper into why Ether (the name of the currency) is so special. We got some face time with the creator, 19-year-old Vitalik Buterin.

Q: So, what’s your background?

“I first got started with Bitcoin in March 2011. I found a guy setting up a Bitcoin blog and he was giving 5 Bitcoins for an article. Back then it was 3.75 Bitcoins so I took that and earned 20 bitcoins and over next few months. I was in high school in Toronto at the time, and studied everything from science to math and Latin. Around May 2013 I made the decision to basically take a break from university and go and work on bitcoin stuff full time.”

Q. So what makes Ethereum different from Bitcoin?

“What I eventually realized was that Bitcoin is a great protocol for moving money around but is really not a good protocol for building stuff on top of. The logical conclusion is what if you could make one protocol that does a lot of things as abstract as possible. The idea of Ethereum is that there’s this abstract idea called a contract and a contract could be anything.”

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Q. So tell us more about what you can use Ethereum for?

“Ethereum takes this completely different track, instead of saying these are the things you can do and making features for them, Ethereum has a programming language. When you have a programming language you can code whatever features you want. So Ethereum is like JavaScript, it's what lets you make not just decentralized currency, but decentralized applications so you can do anything you want."

Q.You said earlier that Ethereum is the Lego of cryptocurrency?

“So the idea of Lego is that Lego doesn’t constrain you, it doesn’t tell you these are the things you can build, it lets you choose from your imagination and that is what I want Ethereum to do as a crypto protocol. I want it to be something can build anything on top of."

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Q. How does creating Ehereum work with your Bitcoin work- are you now competing?

It’s a partial competitor to Bitcoin but I would think our loyalty is less to Bitcoin the currency, as to the space as whole. I think we all see each other as working on the same thing.”

Currently the launch of Ethereum has been pushed back a week. When it goes live there will be a period where you can buy into the “currency." But that will be as part of its fundraising round (think of it as beta-Bitcoin,) rather than actionable as yet. Buterin aims to have a complete launch within two months.

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What you need to know about Ethereum: (There is a whitepaper here, but we wanted to break it down for you)

  • There will be an unlimited amount
  • You can mine it
  • You need Bitcoin to buy it (for now)
  • You can build applications on it, e.g. a Dropbox of social platform

Image: Flickr/Pascal