Ethereum allows its users to set different kinds of operations and not limited to monetary transactions like with Bitcoin.
At the epicentre of the network sits the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), the environment for smart contract development and execution.
The EVM has two main characteristics:
Every node on the network (computers connected) runs the EVM and regularly updates the Ethereum blockchain.
Note that this decentralised computation framework is far less efficient in terms of cost and speed than a traditional hardware set-up.
Still, it offers valuable benefits :
Furthermore, Ethereum and its EVM are value-agnostic: developers are the ones deciding how to use the platform (not the opposite!). While Bitcoin is suited for peer-to-peer payments, Ethereum can automate interactions between stakeholders and coordinate community actions on its network.
Using code, the platform allows the design of any type of operations between peers, like scheduling a payout to an investor, giving a voting right to stakeholders within an organisation or coordinating a peer-to-peer online marketplace.
Bitcoin changed the payment industry, Ethereum can change any industry where trust, immutability and security are crucial.