Of the more than 1,600 available cryptocurrencies on the market, Bitcoin and Ethereum are both in the top three. And Ethereum may overtake Bitcoin in 2018, according to Forbes, which cites the platform’s aggressive growth. But how exactly does Ethereum stack up against Bitcoin in terms of features, uses, and more? Simplilearn’s Bitcoin vs. Ethereum tutorial video covers the similarities and differences between these two cryptocurrencies, and here we’ll recap what’s included in the video.
In 1999, Nobel Prize winner in economics Milton Friedman believed the Internet was going to be one of the major forces in reducing the role of government. He also thought that the one thing missing was reliable electronic cash, and just as he predicted, in 2009 the cryptocurrency Bitcoin was born.
What is Cryptocurrency?
Before going into the Bitcoin vs. Ethereum debate and trying to find out if Ethereum is better than Bitcoin, you must first know about cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency works in a very similar way to “normal” currency (the dollar, Euro, Pound, yen, rupee, and so on). Any form of currency that isn’t a cryptocurrency falls under the banner of normal currency, also known as fiat currency.
The major difference between cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies is that cryptocurrencies are decentralized. This means that cryptocurrencies don’t have a central authority, such as a bank or government, controlling them. In a way, cryptocurrency works in a very democratic fashion: any change that needs to take place is done only after a majority of the people using the cryptocurrency agree to it.
Cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies are similar because both were created as a medium of exchange. However, that’s where the similarity ends. With cryptocurrencies, third parties are not involved. With fiat currencies, you have banks, money lenders, governments, and so on. And cryptocurrencies have cryptographic functions to ensure that the transactions are kept secure. Bitcoin, for example, uses the SHA-256 algorithm to ensure security.
But most important, cryptocurrencies use blockchain, which is a set of records that are placed into a container known as a block. These transactions are kept public and in chronological order.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin, which was released in 2009 by an individual or group of individuals known as Satoshi Nakamoto, is a cryptocurrency that allows people to send and receive money around the world. As mentioned, the payments are secured using cryptography. The most essential point about Bitcoin is that it helps keep the identity of the people sending and receiving money anonymously.
The transaction fee is also very low. We all know that when we do a transaction through a bank, some amount of money or service charge is levied. However, with Bitcoin, this charge is very low.
What is Ethereum?
Ethereum, which was created in 2015 by Vitalik Buterin, is a cryptocurrency that provides ether tokens. This is equivalent to bitcoins in the Bitcoin network. Ether is used to build and deploy decentralized applications whose back-end code is placed in a distributed peer-to-peer network. This is different from a regular application, for which the back-end code is placed in a centralized server. Ether is also used to pay for services, like the computational power that is required before a block can be added to the blockchain and to pay transaction fees.
Ether works very similarly to Bitcoin and can be used for peer-to-peer payments. Also, it can be used to create smart contracts. Smart contracts work in such a way that when a specific set of predefined rules is satisfied, a particular output takes place.
Bitcoin vs. Ethereum
This argument of Bitcoin vs. Ethereum has been gaining great hype in recent times. Bitcoin has become a very popular and well-known cryptocurrency around the world. It also has the highest market cap among all the cryptocurrencies available right now. In a way, it’s the current world champion when it comes to cryptocurrencies. On the other side is Ethereum. Ethereum did not have the revolutionary effect that Bitcoin did, but its creator learned from Bitcoin and produced more functionalities based on the concepts of Bitcoin. It is the second-most-valuable cryptocurrency on the market right now.
Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to be created; as mentioned, it was released in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. It is not known if this is a person or group of people, or if the person or people are alive or dead. Ethereum, as noted above, was released in 2015 by a researcher and programmer named Vitalik Buterin. He used the concepts of blockchain and Bitcoin and improved upon the Bitcoin platform, providing a lot more functionality. He created the Ethereum platform for distributed applications and smart contracts.
Bitcoin enables peer-to-peer transactions. It acts as a replacement for fiat currencies but doesn’t have all the problems associated with fiat currencies. You don’t have to pay high transaction fees, and you also don’t have a centralized authority that regulates how bitcoins work.
Ethereum enables peer-to-peer transactions as well, but it also provides a platform for creating and building smart contracts and distributed applications. A smart contract allows users to exchange just about anything of value: shares, money, real estate, and so on.
In Bitcoin, miners can validate transactions with the method known as proof of work. This is the same in Ethereum. With proof of work, miners around the world try to solve a complicated mathematical puzzle to be the first one to add a block to the blockchain. Ethereum, however, will be moving to something known as proof of stake. With proof of stake, a person can mine or validate transactions in a block based on how many coins he owns. The more coins a person holds, the more mining power he will have.
In Bitcoin, every time a miner adds a block to the blockchain, he is rewarded with 12.5 bitcoins. This reward is expected to be halved every 210,000 blocks. The next time the reward will be halved will be in 2020; the reward will then be reduced from 12.5 bitcoins to 6.25 bitcoins per block. In Etherium a miner, or validator, receives a value of 3 ether every time a block is added to the blockchain, and the reward will never be halved.
The transaction fees in Bitcoin are entirely optional. You can pay the miner more money to have him pay special attention to your transaction; however, the transaction will go through even if you don’t pay a fee. On the other hand, you must provide some amount of ether for your transaction to be successful on Ethereum. The ether you offer will get converted into a unit called gas. This gas drives the computation that allows your transaction to be added to the blockchain.
As for the average amount of time it takes to add a block to the blockchain, in Bitcoin it takes 10 minutes. In Ethereum, it takes only about 12 to 15 seconds.
Hashing algorithms are how these systems can maintain their privacy and ensure security. Bitcoin uses a hashing algorithm known as SHA-256. Ethereum uses a cryptographic algorithm called Ethash.
By the Numbers
Bitcoin has 17 million bitcoins, and Ethereum has 101 million ether. Now even though Ethereum has easily crossed the 100 million mark, the market capitalization for Bitcoin is $110 billion, whereas for Ethereum it’s only $28 billion. So even though Ethereum has more coins on the market, it isn’t at the level of Bitcoin.
The number of Bitcoin transactions that take place in a day is about 219,000; for Ethereum, it’s about 659,000. As for the number of blocks that have been created, for Bitcoin, it’s about 537,000, and for Ethereum it’s about 6 million. This has a lot to do with the fact that it takes a lot less time for a block to be added to Ethereum than to Bitcoin.
The block size is 628.286 kilobytes for Bitcoin and 25.134 kilobytes for Ethereum.
And while the market value of Bitcoin is significantly higher than that of any form of digital currency on the market right now, it is closely followed by Ethereum, which hopes to take over one day.
Bitcoin or Ethereum: Which one is Better?
The answer to the question on which one is better in the argument between Bitcoin vs. Ethereum, it depends entirely on your requirements. While, Bitcoin works better as a peer-to-peer transaction system, and Ethereum works well when you need to create and build distributed applications and smart contracts. The choice is entirely up to you to choose a winner between Bitcoin vs. Ethereum.
If you’d like to learn more about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology—and perhaps earn an increase in salary or land a more exciting job—check out Simplilearn’s Blockchain Basics course or go even further and take your career to the next level with the Blockchain Certification training. There has never been a better time to learn about blockchain and cryptocurrency!