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I'm confused about 'contracts' in Ethereum. When do I need a 'contract'?

For the scope of my app: I want user to be able to generate ETH address, receive and send out ETHER and I should be able to get my wallet balance.

For this kind of scope, do I need a contract? Kindly explain to a noob.

What prompted me to ask this question is that I want to use blockcypher to create address, send wei and recieve. But I can't find a method where I can check the balance of the ETH wallet.

What am I missing?

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You do not need a smart contract for this functionality. To simply send and receive ETH, you simply need to generate an address, much like in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies.

You would need a smart contract if you want more advanced features like multisig, time-locks, etc.

You can send, receive, and check balances using either a full node like Parity or Geth + Mist, or simply a browser wallet like

https://www.myetherwallet.com/ (I don't endorse the use of such wallets or vouch for their safety, but this is a popular option).

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