Ethereum is a smart contract platform that enables developers to build tokens and decentralized applications (dapps). ETH is the native currency for the Ethereum platform and also works as the transaction fees to miners on the Ethereum network. Ethereum is the pioneer for blockchain based smart contracts. Smart contract is essentially a computer code that runs exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference. It can facilitate the exchange of money, content, property, shares, or anything of value. When running on the blockchain a smart contract becomes like a self-operating computer program that automatically executes when specific conditions are met. Ethereum allows programmers to run complete-turing smart contracts that is capable of any customizations. Rather than giving a set of limited operations, Ethereum allows developers to have complete control over customization of their smart contract, giving developers the power to build unique and innovative applications. Ethereum being the first blockchain based smart contract platform, they have gained much popularity, resulting in new competitors fighting for market share. The competitors includes: Ethereum Classic which is the oldchain of Ethereum, Qtum, EOS, Neo, Icon, Tron and Cardano. Ethereum wallets are fairly simple to set up with multiple popular choices such as myetherwallet, metamask, and Trezor. Read here for more guide on using ethereum wallet: How to Use an Ethereum Wallet
The Stellar network is an open source, distributed, and community owned network used to facilitate cross-asset transfers of value. Stellar aims to help facilitate cross-asset transfer of value at a fraction of a penny while aiming to be an open financial system that gives people of all income levels access to low-cost financial services. Stellar can handle exchanges between fiat-based currencies and between cryptocurrencies. Stellar.org, the organization that supports Stellar, is centralized like XRP and meant to handle cross platform transactions and micro transactions like XRP. However, unlike Ripple, Stellar.org is non-profit and their platform itself is open source and decentralized. Stellar was founded by Jed McCaleb in 2014. Jed McCaleb is also the founder of Mt. Gox and co-founder of Ripple, launched the network system Stellar with former lawyer Joyce Kim. Stellar is also a payment technology that aims to connect financial institutions and drastically reduce the cost and time required for cross-border transfers. In fact, both payment networks used the same protocol initially. Distributed Exchange Through the use of its intermediary currency Lumens (XLM), a user can send any currency that they own to anyone else in a different currency. For instance, if Joe wanted to send USD to Mary using her EUR, an offer is submitted to the distributed exchange selling USD for EUR. This submitted offer forms is known as an order book. The network will use the order book to find the best exchange rate for the transaction in-order to minimize the fee paid by a user. This multi-currency transaction is possible because of 'Anchors'. Anchors are trusted entities that hold people’s deposits and can issue credit. In essence, Anchors serves as the bridge between different currencies and the Stellar network. Lumens (XLM) Lumens are the native asset (digital currency) that exist on the Stellar network that helps to facilitate multi-currency transactions and prevent spams. For multi-currency transactions, XLM is the digital intermediary that allows for such a transaction to occur at a low cost. In-order to prevent DoS attacks (aka spams) that would inevitably occur on the Stellar network, a small fee of 0.00001 XLM is associated with every transaction that occurs on the network. This fee is small enough so it does not significantly affect the cost of transaction, but large enough so it dissuades bad actors from spamming the network. The collected fee is then redistributed and added to an inflation pool. This inflation pool releases Lumens at a rate of 1% each year.