Bitcoin vs. Ethereum

What’s the difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum?

First, it’s important to understand that there are two categories of digital coins: Cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin, Litecoin, ZCash, Monero, etc) and Tokens (e.g. Ethereum, Filecoin, Storj, Blockstack, etc.)

Bitcoin is a “cryptocurrency.” Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are competing against existing money (and gold) to replace them with a truly global currency.

The promise of Bitcoin is that it is:

  • A global currency which allows individuals to own their own money (without having to rely on national banks).
  • Lower fees for transferring money across geographic borders.
  • Financial stability for people who live in countries with unstable currencies. (e.g. In 2016, the Venezuela’s currency hit an inflation rate of 800%). In addition, two-thirds of the current global population has no access to banking, or limited access — Bitcoin is changing that.

Ethereum is a “token.” What Bitcoin does for money, Ethereum does for contracts. Ethereum’s innovation is that is allows you to write Smart Contracts: basically any digital agreement where you can say “if this” happens, “then something else happens.” For example:

  • If I vote for the President, then my vote is official and no one else can vote as me.
  • If I sign my name on this document, then I own the car, and you no longer own the car.
  • Up until now we’ve carried out these agreements with a signature at the bottom of a paper document. Ethereum dramatically improves this model because it is digital, and proof of the transaction can never be deleted.

Comparison chart: Bitcoin vs. Ether

Bitcoin (BTC) Ether (ETH)
What is it? A currency  A token
Inventor Satoshi Nakamoto Vitalik Buterin, Joseph Lubin, Gavin Wood, etc. 
Went alive January 2009 July 2015
Supply Style Deflationary (a finite # of bitcoin will be made) Inflationary (much like fiat currency, where more tokens can be made over time)
Supply Cap 21 million in total 18 million every year
Smallest Unit 1 Satoshi = 0.00000001 BTC 1 Wei = 0.000000000000000001 ETH
New token issuance time Every 10 minutes approximately Every 10 to 20 seconds
Amount of new token at issuance 12.5 at the moment. Half at every 210,000 blocks 5 per every new block
Utility Used for purchasing goods and services, as well as storing value (much like how we currently use gold).  Used for making dApps (decentralized apps) on the Ethereum blockchain. 
Price Around $8500 at the moment Around $520 at the moment
Purpose A new currency created to compete against the gold standard and fiat currencies A token capable of facilitating Smart Contracts (For example: a lawyer’s contract, an  exchange of ownership of property, and voting)

Coinbase Bitcoin

Ethereum vs. ether

Let’s go a step further:

Bitcoin itself is two things: (1) it’s a digital currency known bitcoin (lowercase, also referred to as BTC) and Bitcoin is a technology (also known more generally as  blockchain). Both are called the same thing which admittedly can be confusing for newbies.

  • Bitcoin = The name of the Bitcoin network
  • bitcoin = The currency (or BTC)

With Ethereum it’s similar, but slightly different: the token is called ether (or ETH) and the network is Ethereum. 

  • Ethereum = The Ethereum network
  • ether = The token (of ETH)

Bitcoin vs. Ethereum

Where do I buy bitcoin and ether?

Coinbase is the most popular, and easiest place to buy both bitcoin and ethereum. Other popular exchanges where you can buy Bitcoin and Ethereum include: Gdax (owned by Coinbase), or Kraken

Join Coinbase now and get $10 of free Bitcoin if you buy or sell $100.

How much does it cost?

You can visit Coinmarketcap anytime for the latest price of BTC and ETH.

It’s important to know that you don’t have to buy one entire BTC or ETH, you can buy a smaller percentage of either.

bitcoin vs. ether: How many tokens are available?

For Bitcoin, the total supply cap is set at 21 million. At the moment, according to CoinMarketCap, the circulating supply is around 18,586,737 BTC

A new BTC is generated approximately every 10 minutes. And after 2140 no more new bitcoins will be created, which is why Bitcoin is said to be deflationary (the opposite of inflation).

When new bitcoins are created miners compete to get them. Miners are people with can play one of two  possible roles: they use their computers to claim new bitcoin and/or they help verify transactions on the network — much like a bookkeeper. 

There’s no set cap for a total supply of ETH. At the moment, around 96,815,798 ETH are circulating.

bitcoin vs. ether: What can I do with them?

You can use Bitcoin to send or receive money, or to purchase goods at popular sites like, Namecheap, or Tesla. You can also hold your bitcoin as an investment, or for long term storage of value (kind of like how people invest in gold). 

Ether is not as popular as BTC for purchasing goods. At the moment ether is mainly being used by developers building applications on top of it. Over time, and as more apps are developed, the value of ether will likely move from being speculative (as it is now), to more useful in everyday life. 

How to storage bitcoin and ether 

Once you buy digital currency you’re going to want to store it in cold storage (this is a much more secure place to store your currency. Exchanges like Coinbase are where you want to buy currency, but after you purchase the currency it is not advisable to leave your money at the exchange.)

Bitcoin, ether and many other types of coins can be stored on a cold storage option like Trezor or a Ledger.  If you’re serious about buying, sending, or storing larger amounts of cryptocurrencies I’d suggest you pick one up.

Bitcoin vs. Ethereum: Want to learn more?

I teach about Bitcoin and Ethereum at Columbia University’s Business School. And also teach online with One Month.

Join my online Bitcoin and Blockchain tutorial or leave a comment below if you have any questions!


Up next: Bitcoin vs. Litecoin

bitcoin vs. litecoin


What is IOTA?


What is it? A distributed ledger protocol and cryptocurrency that operates with a  directed acyclic graph (DAG) instead of a blockchain.
Inventor The IOTA Foundation
Went live June 2014
Supply Style Deflationary
Supply Cap 2,779,530,283,277,761 (2.779 x 10^15) units, 100% of which has already been distributed  
Smallest Unit 1 IOTA
Price View price

IOTA is the world’s first cryptocurrency that operates entirely without a blockchain and transaction fees. IOTA aims to revolutionize the microtransaction, and in particular, the Internet of Things industry. By removing the use of a traditional blockchain and a transaction fee system, it enables the ability to conduct many transactions of infinitely small amounts between a large a number of devices.

The Problems IOTA Aims to Solve

To understand IOTA  it’s helpful to first make sure you understand Bitcoin, and specifically how Bitcoin mining and validation works:

A visualization of how Bitcoin blocks are chained, source: Bitcoin Whitepaper

In the Bitcoin blockchain, transactions are sent out by users and are pooled together in a pool called the memory pool (mempool). A limited number of these transactions with the highest fees attached to them in the pool are selected from the pool by miners. Miners then validate them by bundling them into a timestamped block that is then published to the network, with a direct reference to the previously timestamped block. This maintains perfect chronological order of all transactions.

This infrastructure has proven to be functional, secure, and potentially scalable over the last ten years. However, there are two fundamental problems posed here that IOTA aims to tackles:

Transaction fees

The blockchain model inherently introduces a transaction fee market to incentivize mining due to the limited space in each Bitcoin block. This limited space acts as a security parameter against network attacks. It also limits the throughput of confirmed transactions onto the Bitcoin network, allowing for approximately 7 transactions every seconds at most.

Synchronous Order

All transactions are timestamped and in chronological order. For a Bitcoin node to validate a block that contains a transaction, it must first ensure the block has a reference the block immediately before it. Therefore, every node on the entire network must first receive the latest valid block before being able to validate any other transactions on the network. This synchronous nature of the blockchain limits the entrance of transactions into the network because of the previously mentioned throughput limit.

The Technology Behind IOTA

IOTA’s fundamental technology in place of the blockchain is the directed acyclic graph (DAG). The directed acyclic graph, dubbed Tangle, is an unordered graph of transactions that may all indirectly reference each other, but do not require knowledge of all possible transactions on the network. Specifically, each transaction on the network on the network refers to and validates two transactions that occurred before it.

IOTA Tangle

The tangle is best understood visually. Confirmed transactions are black, unconfirmed are grey, source: IOTA Blog

In order for a node to post a transaction to the IOTA network, the node will have to first receive and validate two other unconfirmed transactions on the network and conduct a small proof-of-work algorithm on them in order to validate them. This deems the node trustworthy as it has verified a subsection of the IOTA network, and thus allows the node’s transaction to be verified by another node in the same way.

The design of the Tangle is one without transaction fees. The ‘fee’ one pays for a transaction is the two-transaction validation it must do.

Because transactions only need a reference to just two previous ones, the network is an asynchronous one – a potentially limitless number of transactions can be posted and verified by the network, provided there is enough activity being conducted on the network.

Its interesting to note that IOTA also utilizes a technology called Winternitz signatures to cryptographically secure transactions. This technology is thought to be secure against quantum computers and their potential attacks, a trait that most other cryptocurrencies do not possess.

The IOTA Vision and Purpose: Machine Economy

    IOTA was created with the intention to facilitate the “machine economy.” Our society, now more than ever, is being increasingly powered by machines that facilitate, oversee, and conduct transactions. This paradigm is categorized as the “Internet of Things” (IoT) industry. Because the IOTA network is enabled to rapidly transact completely arbitrary amount of currency in a secure and decentralized manner without the need for users to pay for fees, machines that wish to conduct financial activity with one another on a large and rapid scale can now leverage the Tangle to do so.

IOTA and The Internet of Things

The ever-evolving industry of Internet of Things

IOTA’s incredibly large and fixed supply, at exactly 2,779,530,283,277,761 (2.779 x 10^15) units also lends itself true to its vision. The vast amount of IOTA that exists paves the way for microtransactions to occur amongst thousands of devices simultaneously. This supply was entirely mined at the conception of the IOTA network, thus making it deflationary. In a case where coins are pre-mined and then distributed according to this, there is a fair amount of controversy in regards to the degree of distribution of the coins to prevent centralization of assets. However, the IOTA Foundation claims that coins are distributed relatively equally.

IOTA’s large supply also makes it necessary to refer to the number of IOTA as MIOTA (i.e. 1 million IOTA). Exchange prices for IOTA usually list prices for a single MIOTA.



Where can you buy IOTA?

IOTA can be bought primarily on popular cryptocurrency exchanges Bitfinex and Binance. A full list of all exchanges that sell IOTA can be found here.

Where can you store IOTA?

IOTA’s use of uncommon and quantum-resistant cryptography initially resulted in difficulty in terms of wallet-usage, as keys can only be used to sign an address once before being rendered invalid. As such, the number of widely available public wallets is currently limited as the community attempts to build around this cryptography, with promising upcoming solutions such as the Trinity wallet.

The most common way to store IOTA at the moment is to use the official IOTA wallet. The set up of this wallet requires a small degree of but is effectively outlined in this guide.


Cryptocurrency Encyclopedia

Our Cryptocurrency Encyclopedia is a list of the top blog posts, videos, books and podcasts so that you can save time as you begin learning about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

cryptocurrency encyclopedia

Top posts for cryptocurrencies and blockchain:

These are our top 5 resources for learning about some of the most popular cryptocurrencies.

  1. Bitcoin vs. Ethereum
  2. Bitcoin vs. Litecoin
  3. Dash vs. Monero
  4. What is Stellar?
  5. What is Monero?

Top posts for storing cryptocurrencies:

Once you own cryptocurrency, you’re going to want to learn about how to safely store, send and receive your currencies.

  1. Hot Wallet vs. Cold Storage
  2. Trezor Wallet Setup
  3. Ledger Wallet Setup 
  4. How to transfer bitcoin from Coinbase to Trezor
  5. How to use Shapeshift to exchange bitcoin?

Best Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Podcasts:

  1. The Tim Ferris Podcast, “The Quiet Master of Cryptocurrency — Nick Szabo
  2. Unchained Podcast 
  3. Tales from the Crypt
  4. a16z (various episodes)
  5. Block Zero

Top Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Books:

  1. The Internet of Money
  2. The Age of Cryptography
  3. Sapiens
  4. Cryptoassets
  5. Mastering Bitcoin

Top YouTube Videos about Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency

  1. What is blockchain? [Part 1]
  2. What is blockchain? [Part 2]
  3. Top 5 Must-Read Books for CryptoCurrency in 2018


Dash vs. Monero

Dash and Monero are two cryptocurrencies with an emphasis on privacy and security.

What problem are Dash and Monero solving?

Dash and Monero are best understood in comparison to Bitcoin.

Bitcoin (BTC) is the first popularized decentralized digital currency in the World. The idea of bitcoin is peer to peer transactions without the need for a central authority, third party, or middleman. This truly revolutionizes the way we have ever thought about money.

Dash (DASH) and Monero (XMR) started in 2014 highlighting two privacy issues for Bitcoin:

  1. Bitcoin is traceable Every bitcoin transaction is recorded on a public ledger. You can’t see the sender and recipients names, but you can see their wallet addresses. So bitcoin is not fully anonymous, most people refer to Bitcoin as being pseudonymous, or mostly anonymous.
  2. Bitcoin is not fungible —

What does it mean to be ‘fungible’?

“Fungible: The property of a good or a commodity whose individual units are essentially interchangeable.”

The US dollar is mostly fungible. For example, you and I could exchange 1 US Dollar, and each dollar is equal. 1 dollar = 1 dollar.

Bitcoin is not fungible

Because Bitcoin is traceable, there have been attempts to block, or blacklist bitcoin that comes from addresses where Bitcoin has been stolen, or gained illegally.

What problem is Dash solving?

  • Dash is like bitcoin with added privacy
  • Dash is like bitcoin with higher security
  • Dash offers point-of-sale (POS) improvements to bitcoin. Point-of-sale refers to the time and place a transaction occurs.
    • The timeframe for confirmation of transactions (of bitcoin) is far too slow, rendering it an impractical option.

What solution does Dash provide?

Dash’s technology includes three innovative features:

Masternode Network

Bitcoin’s network is maintained by miners only, whereas Dash’s is multi-faceted. Other than miners, Dash also has masternodes, and a budget system. Masternodes allow for PrivateSend and InstandSend to occur.


InstantSend is one service Masternodes provide for the Dash network. Due to this, users have the ability to send and receive instant irreversible transactions. InstantSend is a wonderful use case for point-of-sale (POS) systems.


PrivateSend is an updated version of CoinJoin. Combined inputs are seen identically from multiple users, while outputs are varying on Dash’s blockchain. This makes it nearly impossible to be tracked and traced by third parties. Fungibility is also increased due to coins being mixed with those of equal value.

What problem is Monero solving?

  • Bitcoin transactions are traceable, Monero transactions are untraceable
  • Bitcoin is not fungible, Monero is fungible
  • Monero is like Bitcoin with more privacy

Monero is untraceable — Every Monero transaction, by default, obfuscates sending and receiving addresses as well as transacted amounts.

Monero is fungible — Because it is untraceable, Monero cannot become tainted through use in previous transactions. This means Monero will always be accepted without the risk of censorship.

Monero is private — Monero is often referred to as a “privacy coin” due to it’s untraceable and fungible qualities.

How are Dash and Monero similar?

Both Dash and Monero are working to create a currency like Bitcoin, but more private.

How do Dash and Monero differ?


  • Dash is a fork of Bitcoin. This essentially means it was created from Bitcoin’s code but altered to enhance privacy, as mentioned earlier.
  • Dash’s privacy is optional with the option to use PrivateSend. However, Dash has a rich list, therefore not private.
  • Dash essentially has a hierarchy of nodes with the Masternode Network, rendering them unequal and technically traceable as well.
  • Dash tokens aren’t fungible.
  • Dash also has a strong marketing team and has an ease-of-use approach to appeal to those new to the space.


  • Monero is not a fork of Bitcoin, or a copy of the Bitcoin source code. Monero is a fork of the CryptoNote protocol, Bytecoin.
  • Monero is private by default with use of a cryptographically secure system.
  • By taking advantage of a few key technologies, Monero is untraceable:
  • Nodes on the Monero blockchain are equal, without the ability trace transactions with multiple nodes.
  • Monero is fungible.
  • Monero is open source

Comparison Chart: Dash vs. Monero

Dash (DASH)

 Monero (XMR)Monero Logo
What is it? An instant, private, and secure cryptocurrency An untraceable, fungible, and private cryptocurrency
Creator(s) Evan Duffield Riccardo “fluffypony” Spagni, Francisco “ArticMine” Cabañas and 5 other core team developers
Went live´ January 18, 2014 April 2014
Supply Style Inflationary Inflationary
Supply Cap 18.5 million Once 18.4 million + .3 XMR/min.
Smallest Unit 1 duff =
0.00000001 dash
1 piconero = 0.000000000001 monero
Price View price View price

Where do I buy Dash and Monero?

Both Dash and Monero are readily available on multiple exchanges.

How much does they cost?

Visit coinmarketcap or coingecko for the latest prices.

dash vs. monero: How many tokens are available?


  • The max supply of dash is 18.9 million.
  • A new block of dash is generated every 2.5 minutes.

Stay up to date on dash’s block time.


  • The max supply of monero is 18.4 million.
    Once 18.4 million moneroj (the plural of monero is moneroj)
    is reached the inflation rate will continue at 0.3 XMR per minute,
    which is 0.87% per year.
  • A new block of monero is generated every 1-2 minutes.

Stay up to date on monero’s block time.

dash vs. monero: What can I do with them?


Dash can be used to purchase Contraband Organic Coffee, Coin Wars, and a variety of VPN Provides.


Monero can be used to purchase goods on The Kava Society, Hammock Universe, Kidsweet, a variety of VPN and online services.

Dash vs. monero: How do I store them?


Dash can be stored on hardware wallets such as the trezor, ledger, and KeepKey support dash. Dash can be stored on cold wallets such as coinomi and exodus. Learn more about how to store dash.


There are no hardware wallets available supporting monero, although Ledger has listed Monero on their roadmap. It is recommended to store you monero on a cold wallet. This is an offline paper wallet which is the most secure.

The safest way to store Monero is with Monero’s full node. When you download the Monero full node you’ll be downloading the entire history of Monero to your computer — so you’ll need at least a few gigabytes worth of disk space. Monero also offers a paper wallet storage, and a web wallet. Read more about Monero storage options on the official Monero website.

Learn more about Dash and Monero: