Like Bitcoin, Ethereum is mined and traded as a cryptocurrency. However, Ethereum also provides a platform on which anyone can build and use decentralised applications that run on blockchain technology. Ethereum is therefore known as an open blockchain platform.
Ethereum’s biggest allure to developers is its smart contract feature intended to digitally facilitate, verify or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract. Smart contracts have the potential to be highly disruptive to ‘middle-men’ industries where the terms of the contract between supplier and consumer is managed by the software itself rather than a lawyer for example.
Consider the music industry, where the artist (supplier) only receives a small percentage of the album sale through royalties due to middle-men costs (platform, management, advertising & publisher) and often long after listener (consumer) bought or streamed the content. If the musician hosted their music on a platform leveraging the smart contract feature, they would have greater control of their content and finances and reduce their payment time to nearly zero.