Bitcoin vs Ethereum

Contributor, Benzinga
verified by Ryan McNamara

Bitcoin and Ethereum are very different blockchains, but both are available for purchase on eToro and Exodus.

Bitcoin and Ethereum are the 2 most widely adopted applications of blockchain technology in existence today. While many people think they are competitors, it isn’t quite that simple. Bitcoin is digital gold, while Ethereum is a digital universe. Both cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology to create a value layer for the internet, but Bitcoin’s technology is limited to payments and scarcity. Ethereum takes blockchain a step further by adding a computer to the value layer, replacing traditional financial functions like lending and trading with code.

Both systems are powered and secured by a decentralized network of individuals across the world (miners), who are paid to do their part in keeping the network’s secure. Decentralization is the core principle of blockchain technologies that make Bitcoin revolutionary compared to the digital dollar, which is centrally controlled by the U.S. government. When centralized entities failed the world in 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto made bitcoin to decentralize control of money. Ethereum was inspired by Bitcoin, but it upgraded upon Bitcoin with the addition of smart contracts. Whereas Bitcoin serves 1 function as a store of value, Ethereum’s flexibility gives its blockchain network limitless potential.

Learning the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum will lead you down a much deeper path of technological advancement and where the future of the internet may be. You don’t have to fully understand blockchain, Bitcoin, or Ethereum to know that we are on the verge of something special. Let’s take a look at what makes these projects similar, different and ultimately great in their own respect.

Main Takeaways: Bitcoin vs. Ethereum

  • Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency; Ethereum is a platform. Ether is the native token on Ethereum’s blockchain.
  • Transactions are faster on the Ethereum network than on Bitcoin’s.
  • Bitcoin is primarily a store of value and medium of exchange; Ethereum is seen as a general purpose blockchain.
  • Ethereum was created as a complement to Bitcoin, not as competition.

What is Bitcoin?

In January 2009, an enigmatic figure named Satoshi Nakamoto executed an idea that he had laid out in a white paper — a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that could operate securely without a central authority. With Bitcoin, the idea of the cryptocurrency, or money without any physical form, was born.

Bitcoin
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Bitcoin was not the 1st time that someone thought of a decentralized, nonphysical form of money, but it was the first time that the idea was implemented successfully. The value of all other cryptos (including Ether) generally moves in tandem with Bitcoin, and Bitcoin is still traded more than any other crypto.

The primary purpose of Bitcoin was to establish itself as a viable alternative to traditional fiat currencies backed by countries. It is primarily a store of value and often used as a medium of exchange (although Stellar Lumens and other payment-focused cryptocurrencies are much better for this purpose due to their high throughput and low transaction costs.) Today, Bitcoin is primary seen as a store of value, as it’s high fees aren’t ideal to be a true currency.

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What is Ethereum?

Ethereum is a global computing platform powered by its native cryptocurrency, Ether (ETH). As demand for computing power on the Ethereum blockchain increases, so will demand for ETH.

Solidity is Ethereum’s programming language and used to create smart contracts that can be deployed on the blockchain. Developers chose to build their apps on Ethereum’s blockchain because it highly decentralized, and therefore highly resistant to censorship and other forms of centralized malice. Peer-to-peer apps on Ethereum are known as decentralized apps (dApps), and are capable of providing trustless products and services. As the native currency on the Ethereum platform, ETH is needed to run dApps on the global computer that is the Ethereum blockchain.

Ethereum was launched in 2015 as an upgrade to the perceived limits of Bitcoin. Its use cases provided more opportunities for developers to create new applications, so it eventually became a separate and competitive entity. Ethereum was created by Vitalik Buterin, and the foundation is currently the most actively developed blockchain project in the world.

Similarities Between Bitcoin and Ethereum

Both Bitcoin and Ethereum are powered by their respective blockchains using proof of work consensus to validate transactions. Once 51% of the network’s nodes agree that a transaction is valid, it’s permanently uploaded to the blockchain. Ether and Bitcoin are the cryptocurrencies that enable these decentralized networks, and both of these assets have a limited supply. However, Bitcoin’s supply is finite, and no more than 21 million will ever be issued. Ether, on the other hand, has an inflation rate of 4% and a token burn mechanism in place to offset its issuance rate.

Once Ethereum 2.0 launches, it’s likely that the supply of Ether will become deflationary, that is, it will decrease over time. Ethereum 2.0 will decrease issuance from 4% annually to around 0.5%.

Another similarity between Bitcoin and Ethereum is network adoption. These networks have much more users than other cryptocurrencies, making them the 2 most valuable cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. While Bitcoin has more institutional adoption, Ethereum has a larger active user base and transacts far more volume than Bitcoin on a daily basis. Both cryptocurrencies have widespread adoption, so these networks should have strong staying power as the blockchain industry matures.

Differences Between Bitcoin and Ethereum

Bitcoin was built to do one thing well — provide a way for people to transfer value from one to another without a central bank. Ethereum was built as a general purpose blockchain, allowing for limitless functions through its smart contracts. As a result, Ethereum is able to do many things well instead of serving solely as a store of value. 

Ether can be used as a digital currency, but that is not its primary purpose. The Ethereum platform was built primarily to monetize operations of Ethereum smart contracts and dApps.

Bitcoin’s market cap in October 2021 is around $1 trillion. The Ether market cap is about 1/3 of that size, coming in at around $250 billion.

Ethereum is such a flexible platform that some people are actually starting to hold their Bitcoin on the Ethereum chain instead of on the Bitcoin blockchain. This is known as a “wrapped bitcoin.” Ether cannot be held on the Bitcoin blockchain. However, Bitcoin is much more widely accepted as a cash replacement — there is even a Bitcoin search engine where you can find products to buy in Bitcoin.

Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges for BTC and ETH

Thanks to the explosive growth of cryptocurrencies, there are plenty of places to purchase both Bitcoin and Ethereum. Some platforms, such as Webull and Robinhood, let investors buy both stocks and crypto all on one platform. Other exchanges, like Coinbase and eToro, offer dedicated cryptocurrency platforms with several altcoins and options to earn interest on your digital assets.

get started securely through Webull’s website
Best For
Low Minimums
N/A
1 Minute Review

Webull, founded in 2017, is a mobile app-based brokerage that features commission-free stock and exchange-traded fund (ETF) trading. It’s regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Webull offers active traders technical indicators, economic calendars, ratings from research agencies, margin trading and short-selling. Webull’s trading platform is designed for intermediate and experienced traders, although beginning traders can also benefit.

Webull is widely considered one of the best Robinhood alternatives.

Best For
  • Active traders
  • Intermediate traders
Pros
  • No charges to open and maintain an account
  • No account maintenance fees or software platform fees
  • Intuitive trading platform with technical and fundamental analysis tools
Cons
  • Only offers 14 coins
get started securely through Exodus Wallet’s website
Best For
Staking Crypto + Earning Rewards
N/A
1 Minute Review

Founded in 2015, Exodus is a multiasset software wallet that removes the geek requirement and keeps design a priority to make cryptocurrency and digital assets easy for everyone. Available for desktop and mobile, Exodus allows users to secure, manage and exchange cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and more across an industry-leading 10,000-plus asset pairs from a beautiful, easy-to-use wallet. The noncustodial functionality is encrypted locally on users’ own devices, ensuring privacy, security and complete control over their wealth. Exodus is on a mission to empower half the world to exit the traditional finance system by 2030.

Best For
  • Newcomers to the cryptocurrency world
  • Ease of use
  • Trezor integration
Pros
  • Free
  • Huge selection of cryptocurrencies
  • Excellent 24/7 customer support
  • No personal info needed
Cons
  • FTX app not available on the mobile app
get started securely through SoFi’s website
Best For
Beginners
N/A
1 Minute Review

SoFi takes a modern approach to personal finance. It recently created buzz with the release of SoFi Crypto, a way to trade cryptocurrency on the app. The platform allows investors to familiarize themselves with crypto. It offers a high level of security, great customer support and an intuitive interface. However, it does have shortcomings with the number of cryptos offered and geographic restrictions.

Best For
  • Beginners
  • Centralization of your money
Pros
  • Charges low or no fees for some functions within the interface.
  • Relies on Coinbase, a very secure platform, to process transactions.
  • Presents a low barrier of entry — you only need $10 to start trading.
Cons
  • Currently only offers 28 coins.
get started securely through eToro’s website
Disclosure: eToro USA LLC; Investments are subject to market risk, including the possible loss of principal.
Best For
Copy Trading
N/A
1 Minute Review

eToro, headquartered in Cyprus, England and Israel, has provided forex products and other CFD derivatives to retail clients since 2007. A major eToro plus is its social trading operations, including OpenBook, which allows new clients to copy trade the platform’s best performers. Its social trading features are top notch, but eToro loses points for its lack of tradable currency pairs and underwhelming research and customer service features

Best For
  • U.S. based cryptocurrency traders
  • Investors looking to CopyTrade other traders
  • Simple user interface
Pros
  • Several major cryptocurrencies and altcoins
  • Expansive network of social trading features
  • Large client base for new traders to imitate
Cons
  • Only 29 coins available
Invest In Crypto securely through Gemini Crypto’s website
Best For
New Investors
N/A
1 Minute Review

Gemini is a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian that offers investors access to over 100 coins and tokens. Founded in the US, Gemini is expanding globally, in particular into Europe and Asia. Offerings include both major cryptocurrency projects like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and smaller altcoins like Orchid and 0x.

Gemini is 1 of the only brokers with multiple platform options based on skill level. New investors will love the streamlined interface of Gemini’s mobile and web apps, while advanced investors might appreciate all the tools that come with ActiveTrader. 

In addition to a host of platform choices, Gemini users also have access to insured hot wallets to store tokens without worrying about digital asset theft. Learn more about what Gemini can do for you in our review.

Best For
  • New investors looking for a simple mobile and web app
  • Day traders looking to use technical analysis tools
  • Users looking for a 1-stop-shop to buy, sell and store all of their cryptos
Pros
  • Easy and quick signups — can get started in as little as a 5 minutes
  • Multitude of platforms to accommodate traders of all skill levels
  • Hot wallets include insurance to protect your from theft and hacking attempts
Cons
  • Charges both a commission and a convenience fee for users buying and selling through the desktop or mobile app
earn free crypto securely through Coinbase’s website
Best For
Coinbase Learn
N/A
1 Minute Review

Coinbase is one of the Internet’s largest cryptocurrency trading platforms. From Bitcoin to Litecoin or Basic Attention Token to Chainlink, Coinbase makes it exceptionally simple to buy and sell major cryptocurrency pairs. 

You can even earn cryptocurrency rewards through Coinbase’s unique Coinbase Earn feature. More advanced traders will love the Coinbase Pro platform, which offers more order types and enhanced functionality.

Though Coinbase doesn’t offer the most affordable pricing or the lowest fees, its simple platform is easy enough for complete beginners to master in as little as a single trade.

Best For
  • New cryptocurrency traders
  • Cryptocurrency traders interested in major pairs
  • Cryptocurrency traders interested in a simple platform
Pros
  • Simple platform is easy to operate
  • Comprehensive mobile app mirrors desktop functionality
  • Coinbase Earn feature rewards you with crypto for learning about available coins
Cons
  • Higher fees than competitors

Ethereum and Bitcoin Aren’t Competitors

Researching Bitcoin vs Ethereum leads to a deeper discussion of what blockchain technology can do to improve every aspect of our lives. If you want to know the future of everything from finance to the judiciary to construction, Bitcoin and Ethereum will likely be a big part of it.

It’s essential to understand that Bitcoin and Ethereum are fundamentally different ideas. Bitcoin is a store of value. Ethereum is a decentralized platform to host decentralized applications. Ether is the currency and programmable value that runs Ethereum. The backbone of Ethereum and Bitcoin are the same, however. Both of these cryptos run on blockchain technology to secure its network. No longer do we have to rely on giving others our precious data to make transactions — blockchain gives us the power to create a trustless, immutable way to do business. 

There may be little to really comparison between Bitcoin and Ethereum, but there will be huge comparisons to life before and after their mainstream acceptance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

Is Bitcoin better than Ethereum

1
Is Bitcoin better than Ethereum
asked
A
1

Bitcoin is digital gold. Ethereum is a decentralized computing platform for creating other decentralized applications such as automated market makers, NFTs, exchanges, currencies and so much more. Bitcoin’s widespread adoption and resistance to change is its main selling point.

answered
Q

Is Ethereum better than Bitcoin?

1
Is Ethereum better than Bitcoin?
asked
A
1

Ethereum can do everything that Bitcoin can, and so much more. Ethereum is a decentralized computing platform where a new era of automated financial applications are being built to connect the global economy on a trustless and decentralized blockchain.

answered
Q

What’s the difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum?

1
What’s the difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum?
asked
A
1

Bitcoin is digital gold. Ethereum is a decentralized digital computer. Both blockchains can be used to store and transfer value, however Ethereum can be used to implement decentralized applications (dApps). Ethereum is a development platform/ global computer.

answered

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