Bitcoin vs. Ethereum: How do they differ?

Bitcoin vs. Ethereum

Key Takeaways

  • Bitcoin, the pioneering crypto, was created in 2009. Ethereum, the second-largest crypto by market cap, was launched in 2015.
  • Bitcoin and Ethereum differ in terms of consensus algorithms, scalability, functionality, and future potential.
  • Despite the differences, both are decentralized and are traded on online exchanges like digital assets.

Bitcoin and Ethereum are the biggest names in the crypto space, justifiably so. The top two cryptos by market cap have consistently retained the distinction for years now. Yet, looked at another way, both the coins couldn’t be more different. Read on to find out more about Bitcoin vs. Ethereum.

Basic facts about Bitcoin and Ethereum

To understand the difference between these two dominant players in the blockchain space, it is important to know some basic facts.


Bitcoin was created in 2009 as a digital coin that functioned without a central authority. Satoshi Nakamoto, who is credited with the idea, presented the Bitcoin white paper detailing how it was to operate digitally without having a physical existence.

However, contrary to popular belief, Bitcoin was not the first online coin of this type. Rather, it was the most successful. The blockchain-based technology soon soared in popularity, and many other digital currencies have popped up in the market since. Governments and institutions have warmed up to the idea of decentralized currencies, which have entered mainstream finance.


Ethereum was launched in 2015, six years after Bitcoin came into existence. Today, it is a well-established, robust, and the largest open-ended decentralized software platform. Ethereum allows developers to use its platform to deploy smart contracts—computer programs that are self-sustaining and self-executing. Ethereum boasts minimal downtime, low fraud rates, and absolutely no interference from a third party.

The Ethereum token (ETH) can be used to transfer value between peers, just like Bitcoin. However, that is not the token’s primary function. The potential applications of the Ethereum blockchain are massive. Many layer-2 and layer-3 blockchains today use the Ethereum network to make transactions and development faster.

The ETH token serves the following purposes:

  • Trading in crypto exchanges
  • Purchase goods and services from specific providers
  • To pay fees and validate nodes on the Ethereum network

What are the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum?

While both cryptos are based on the blockchain principle, some fundamental differences make them distinct from each other, practically and ideologically. Let’s dig in to understand more about Bitcoin vs. Ethereum.

Consensus algorithms

Bitcoin and Ethereum use different consensus algorithms to validate nodes on the blockchain. Bitcoin uses proof of work (PoW), wherein miners use sophisticated equipment to verify blocks individually and add them to the chain. They get rewarded for their efforts in BTC, the currency of the chain. On the other hand, Ethereum recently migrated to a PoS consensus mechanism that uses staked ETH to validate transactions. Essentially, this means that the energy required to mint ETH is much less than what’s required for BTC.


Scalability, in a way, is an extension of the difference in consensus algorithms. Due to the difference in processing transactions, these chains are not equally scalable. Staked ETH doesn’t use copious amounts of energy, which means it is more scalable. Since ETH is also a fully functioning software development platform, it has more functionalities than Bitcoin.

On the other hand, BTC evolved as a payment mechanism that operates without a third party. Basically, PoW still works for its model, even though some experts have previously voiced concerns with the algorithm. There have been demands to migrate Bitcoin to PoS, but that idea has been met with strong opposition.

Future prospects

The Ethereum blockchain is far ahead of Bitcoin in terms of functionality. It forms the foundation for dApps, which are decentralized applications that are hugely popular. Ethereum is also the go-to chain for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and decentralized gaming technologies. Many businesses have tried to relieve the traffic on Ethereum by building layer-2 solutions (like Polygon).

Bitcoin is trying to catch up, though. Recently, it has implemented the Taproot upgrade, which enables the usage of smart contracts on its chain. The Lightning Network, which makes transactions much faster, has also worked as a second-layer protocol.

How Bitcoin and Ethereum play a major role in the crypto world

Bitcoin and Ethereum are rockstars of the crypto universe. Bitcoin was the first to gain global recognition, while Ethereum provides the backbone for thousands of projects, all of which rely on its stability and scalability.

BTC and ETH constitute more than $450 billion in crypto market cap. Moreover, they drive innovation by bringing more developers into their fold, allowing them to experiment and introduce new methods and ideas. In fact, their unchallenged dominance serves as a reassurance for many who believe in their long-term utility and potential functionality.

Bitcoin vs. Ethereum

Although the two coins are central to innovation in decentralization, it is essential to distinguish between them to ensure that you’re investing in the right vehicle. Although there are fundamental differences in how they operate, the coins are similar in many respects. They can be traded on online exchanges and stored in crypto wallets, they are decentralized, and both have an upper limit on supply (which makes them deflationary in the long term).


Blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum form the base of the crypto world. Both follow different consensus mechanisms to verify transactions. Though it all began with the creation of Bitcoin, Ethereum’s easy adaptability and scalability make it suitable for building various applications.


What is the main difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum?

Purpose: Bitcoin primarily serves as a digital currency for transactions, while Ethereum focuses on facilitating smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps).
Transaction Functionality: Ethereum transactions may contain executable code, enabling more complex functionalities beyond simple value transfer, unlike Bitcoin transactions

Why do people use Ethereum instead of Bitcoin?

Smart Contracts: Ethereum’s ability to support smart contracts allows for the creation of decentralized applications, providing more diverse use cases compared to Bitcoin.
Decentralized Finance (DeFi): Ethereum’s infrastructure is fundamental to the booming DeFi ecosystem, enabling activities like lending, borrowing, and yield farming

What is a difference between Ethereum and Bitcoin Mcq?

Purpose: Ethereum is designed for smart contracts and decentralized applications, while Bitcoin primarily functions as digital currency for transactions.
Transaction Flexibility: Ethereum transactions can execute complex functions beyond simple value transfer, whereas Bitcoin transactions are primarily for recording notes.

What is the difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum fees?

Transaction Fees: Bitcoin transaction fees may vary based on network congestion and tend to be lower compared to Ethereum’s fees, which can fluctuate due to the use of gas for transaction execution

Article Default Disclaimer

Share this:


Subscribe to our newsletter

Weekly crypto updates and insights delivered to your inbox.

Browse our Newsletter Archive for past editions.


Thank you for subscribing!
Please verify your email to start receiving the latest issues from Switch in your Inbox.
Powered by

Build your crypto portfolio on the
CoinSwitch app today

Scan the QR code below or find us on Google Play
Store or Apple App Store.

Build your crypto portfolio on the
CoinSwitch app today

Scan the QR code below or find us on Google Play Store or Apple App Store.