Bitcoin vs Ethereum: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research October 3, 2023

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  • Bitcoin and ethereum are two popular cryptocurrencies that have different goals and use cases
  • Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency and focuses on being a digital currency
  • Ethereum is a blockchain platform that allows for the creation of smart contracts and dApps


Bitcoin and Ethereum are two of the most widely used cryptocurrencies in the world. Blockchain technology is the foundation of Bitcoin and Ethereum. It is a distributed ledger that records transactions safely and transparently. There are, however, significant distinctions between the two cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin is a digital currency designed to be a peer-to-peer payment system and a store of value. It is limited to 21 million coins, which makes it scarce and deflationary. Bitcoin is also relatively slow and expensive. This makes it less suitable for everyday payments.

Ethereum is a programmable blockchain platform for creating decentralized applications (dapps), smart contracts and NFTs. Ethereum has greater scalability and flexibility than bitcoin. It is also more complex and can be more expensive to use.

A Brief History

Bitcoin was created by an anonymous computer programmer or group of programmers known as Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. It was the first cryptocurrency. It aimed to be a decentralized digital currency that could be used as an alternative to traditional national currencies. Ethereum, on the other hand, was introduced in 2015 as a platform for running decentralized applications, also known as dapps.

Bitcoin's journey began in 2008 when Satoshi Nakamoto published a white paper defining the concept of Bitcoin. The currency was first used in 2009, when its implementation was made available as open-source software. Since then, Bitcoin has gained significant popularity and has been subject to praise and controversy.

Ethereum introduced totally new concepts to blockchain technology. It was designed as a platform for running decentralized apps, allowing developers to create smart contracts and build applications on its blockchain.

Bitcoin has seen significant price volatility over the years. In 2011, bitcoin was worth less than a dollar. However, by 2017, bitcoin had reached a peak price of over $20,000. Ethereum has also seen substantial growth. In 2017, the Ethereum network processed over $1 trillion in transactions. Ethereum is now the second most valuable cryptocurrency in the world, after Bitcoin.

What is Bitcoin and Ethereum?

Bitcoin and Ethereum are two of the world's most well-known and successful cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin and Ethereum have significantly impacted the development of blockchain technology. These cryptocurrencies have also inspired a wide range of new applications. Bitcoin was launched in January 2009. It operates outside the control of any government or corporation and offers the promise of an online currency that is secured without any central authority. Bitcoin is primarily designed to be an alternative to traditional currencies and a medium of exchange and store of value.

In contrast, Ethereum was introduced in July 2015. It is the most well-known and widely used open-ended decentralized software platform. Ethereum enables building and deploying smart contracts and dapps without downtime, or fraud, from a third party. Its use is in numerous areas, including decentralized finance (DeFi), smart contracts and NFTs. Bitcoin and Ethereum are similar in some ways. Both digital currencies are traded via online exchanges and stored in various cryptocurrency wallets.

However, there are many significant differences between them. Bitcoin is primarily designed to function as a currency and a store of value. In contrast, Ethereum is intended to support complex smart contracts and decentralized applications. Ether (ETH) is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network and is the second most popular digital token after bitcoin.

Getting Started

  • Understand the basics of cryptocurrency. Before users invest in any cryptocurrency, it's essential to understand what it is and how it works. Bitcoin and Ethereum are digital currencies that use blockchain technology to secure and verify transactions.
  • Choose a cryptocurrency exchange. Many different cryptocurrency exchanges are available. Some popular exchanges for Bitcoin and Ethereum include Coinbase, Kraken and Binance.
  • Create a digital wallet. A digital wallet is where users will store Bitcoin and Ethereum. There are many different types of wallets available, both hot and cold. Hot wallets are connected to the internet, while cold wallets are not.
  • Buy bitcoin and ether. After creating a digital wallet, users can begin purchasing bitcoin and ether. Users must deposit fiat currency (US dollars or euros) into an exchange account. Once users have deposited fiat currency, users can use it to purchase bitcoin and ethereum.
  • Start using bitcoin and ether. Once users have purchased bitcoin and ether, users can use them to pay for goods online. Users can also use them to send money to other people.

Unique Aspects

  • Decentralization. Both Bitcoin and Ethereum are decentralized networks. Bitcoin's network is secured by a blockchain. Transactions are verified by miners who compete to solve complex mathematical problems. This process is known as proof-of-work. Ethereum's network is secured by a similar process called proof-of-stake. However, validators stake ETH tokens instead of competing to solve mathematical problems to secure the network.
  • Scarcity. Bitcoin and ether are both scarce assets. A limited supply of bitcoins will ever be created, and the supply of ETH is also capped. This scarcity helps to drive up the price of both assets. Bitcoin's supply is limited to 21 million BTC. Ethereum's supply is limited to 18 million ETH per year. However, ETH tokens can be burned, reducing the overall supply.
  • Programmable blockchain. Smart contracts are self-executing contracts that can automate a variety of operations. This makes Ethereum a powerful platform for developing dapps. Bitcoin is not a very programmable blockchain. It mostly can only be used to send and receive payments.
  • Open source. Bitcoin and Ethereum are both open-source projects. This means that anyone can view and contribute to the code. This openness helps to promote transparency and accountability. Bitcoin's code is written in C++. Ethereum's code is written in Solidity.
  • Global community. Bitcoin and Ethereum have large and active global communities. This helps ensure that the projects are well-maintained and the networks are secure. Bitcoin's community is known for its strong libertarian values. Ethereum's community is more diverse, but it is also passionate about building a decentralized future.


  • Security. Bitcoin and Ethereum use various cryptographic techniques to secure networks and transactions. For example, both use a hash functions to generate unique identifiers for transactions and blocks. This makes it very difficult for attackers to tamper with the blockchain or steal funds.
  • Transparency. All bitcoin and ether transactions are publicly recorded on the blockchain. This means anyone can view the history of all transactions that have ever been made.
  • Efficiency. Bitcoin and Ethereum network transactions are processed quickly and securely. Bitcoin transactions are typically processed within minutes. Ethereum transactions can be processed within seconds.
  • Flexibility. Ethereum is more flexible than Bitcoin due to the creation of decentralized applications (dapps). This makes them more resistant to censorship and manipulation. Ethereum's flexibility is due to its Turing-complete programming language.
  • Innovation potential. Bitcoin and Ethereum are both constantly evolving and innovating. This means that new and exciting possibilities are continually emerging.


  • Price volatility. Bitcoin and Ethereum are highly volatile assets. This can make them risky investments and make it difficult to use them as a medium of exchange.
  • Energy consumption. Bitcoin mining requires significant energy, which can contribute to climate change. Ethereum is also moving towards a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, which will reduce its energy consumption. It has yet to be made clear when this will be fully implemented.
  • Limited use cases. Bitcoin and ether are primarily used as speculative investments and for buying goods and services. Both have yet to be widely accepted as a form of payment. It can be challenging to use them for everyday transactions.
  • Scalability issues. Bitcoin and ether can process a limited number of transactions per second. This leads to congestion and high fees. This can make them unsuitable for use in high-volume applications.
  • Lack of regulation. The Bitcoin and Ethereum networks are not subject to the same level of regulation as traditional financial products. This can make them attractive to criminals.