Vitalik Buterin, who spearheaded the launch of the Ethereum blockchain in 2015, has become the world’s youngest crypto billionaire at age 27. Ethereum’s cryptocurrency, ether, surged past $3,000 for the first time early Monday morning, marking a 325% rise since the beginning of this year.
Buterin’s ether address, which he disclosed in October 2018 as his main ether wallet, currently holds 333,520 ETH, worth $1.09 billion at the ether price of $3,278 at 1:30 p.m. ET on Monday.
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The ether cryptocurrency has a market capitalization of $376 billion, second only to bitcoin’s $1.08 trillion. Ether’s value has surged since the beginning of the year, largely due to the rising popularity of decentralized finance (DeFi) applications that are aiming to replace traditional financial intermediaries like banks and insurance companies. According to the data aggregator DeFi Pulse, over $72 billion is now locked in DeFi protocols, many of which are built on top of the Ethereum blockchain.
However, Ethereum is facing tough competition from Binance Smart Chain (BSC), the blockchain infrastructure developed by the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, which has been processing an average of more than 8 million transactions on a daily basis since late April (Ethereum is just over 1 million). Other prominent blockchains include Algorand, Cardano, Polkadot, and Solana.
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Buterin was reportedly born in 1994 in the town of Kolomna, just outside of Moscow. He later moved to Canada with his family and was raised in Toronto. Prior to launching Ethereum, in 2012 when he was 18, Buterin cofounded (and wrote for) Bitcoin Magazine with Mihai Alisie, who later joined Buterin in founding Ethereum. In 2014, Buterin was awarded the prestigious Thiel Fellowship, offering $100,000 for young people under the age of 23 to pursue interests outside of academia (instead of going to college or university). The fellowship is funded by billionaire Peter Thiel, an early investor in Facebook and a graduate of Stanford University. A year later, the Russian-Canadian entrepreneur and the rest of the developing team launched Frontier, what they called the “barebone implementation of the Ethereum project.”