The blockchain–2018’s most disruptive, innovative, yet confusing technologies. TechRepublic’s Dan Patterson met with Dan Guido, co-founder and CEO of Trail of Bits, to explain how Ethereum works, and why the application-based cryptocurrency is rapidly-emerging as a Bitcoin alternative.

Bitcoin and Ethereum are based on the same foundational concept of a global distributed ledger that everyone has access to and validates new transactions on. However, Bitcoin is used for value transfer, while Ethereum is a new way to develop applications. Instead of validating and sharing the transfer of tokens between two parties, Ethereum tracks the state between applications, Guido said. That shared state allows developers to write applications instead of providing someone with a token.

SEE: The executive’s guide to implementing blockchain technology (PDF download)

“Within the next year or two, there will be an application that most humans on earth will have interacted with that uses the blockchain behind it,” he said.

Though it’s easy for companies to want to jump into blockchain technology, there are many vulnerabilities and issues that could come along with it. When you embrace a technology like this, you need to understand the risk you are inheriting, Guido said. “Unlike regular applications, you can patch them. With Ethereum applications, you have to get it right on the first try,” he added.

Once companies implement this technology, they will receive great value from it–so it is worth trying. However, companies need to meet with experts early on in their implementation process so they can discuss what all it entails.