Bitcoin vs. Litecoin

bitcoin vs. litecoin

Bitcoin and Litecoin are both cryptocurrencies. Today, money is created and managed by individual countries (e.g. the US issues USD, England issues pounds, etc). Bitcoin and Litecoin are revolutionary because the founders have created a global currency that can be used by anyone in the world, and isn’t tied to any country.

Bitcoin was announced in 2009 via an online academic paper. Two years later in 2011 Litecoin was forked (aka. copied) directly from the Bitcoin code because Litecoin’s founder Charlie Lee believed Litecoin could make some adjustments to the code that would offer consumers lower fees, and quicker transaction times.

The innovation behind both Bitcoin and Litecoin is that they allows two people to send money on the Internet without a third party (like a bank). For example, at the moment I can send you money via Paypal, Citibank or Bank of America, but in all of these scenarios we are trusting these companies to manage our transaction. The problem with this current system is that banks take fees to manage our money, and banks are being attacked by hackers daily. Bitcoin and Litecoin allow you and me to exchange money without using a bank, and without relying on a company.

Today, Bitcoin is often regarded as a store of value (similar to how the gold is valued as a global store of value), and for sending higher amounts of money (think: like a wire transfer), rather than for small casual transactions. Litecoin is often regarded as a currency for day-to-day transactions. The popular analogy is that: if Bitcoin is gold, Litecoin is silver (or a credit card).

Bitcoin is:

  • A decentralized global digital currency
  • Stored on a public ledger (known as a blockchain) where each transaction takes 10 minutes to clear (to be approved)
  • Developed by Satoshi Nakamoto — an unknown figure or group of people

Litecoin is:

  • A decentralized global digital currency
  • Quicker than Bitcoin because transactions take 2.5 minutes to clear
  • Developed by Charlie Lee (aka SatoshiLite)

Takeaway: Bitcoin is more like digital gold, whereas litecoin is often thought of as a digital cash.

Comparison chart: Bitcoin vs. Litecoin

Bitcoin (BTC)


Litecoin (LTC)



What is it? A currency (store of value) A currency (medium of exchange)
Inventor Satoshi Nakamoto Charlie Lee
Went live January 2009 October 2011
Supply Style Deflationary (a finite # of bitcoin will be made) Deflationary (a finite # of litecoin will be made)
Supply Cap 21 million in total 84 million in total
Smallest Unit 1 Satoshi = 0.00000001 BTC 1 Litoshi = 0.00000001 LTC
New token issuance time Every 10 minutes approximately Every 2.5 minutes approximately
Amount of new token at issuance 12.5 new bitcoin are issued every 10 minutes. This number will half (to 6.5 new bitcoin) everytime Bitcoin creates 210,000 new blocks. The next halving will be reached 2020. 25 new litecoin are issued every 2.5 minutes. This number will half (to 12.5 new coins) everytime Litecoin creates 840,000 new blocks. The new halving will be reached in 2019.
Utility Bitcoin has been trending towards becoming a store of value like code. Although it is also used for purchasing goods and services Used for purchasing goods and services, as well as storing value (much like how we currently use a checking account).
Price View price View price
Purpose  “Bitcoin is an innovative payment network and a new kind of money.”[฿]

 “Litecoin is a proven medium of commerce complimentary to bitcoin.”[Ł]

Coinbase Bitcoin

Where do I buy bitcoin and litecoin?

Coinbase is the easiest place to buy both bitcoin and litecoin. If you want slightly lower service fees and a more robust interface, then Gdax (a site owned by Coinbase) offers an alternative to Coinbase.

How much does it cost?

Cryptocurrency prices are constantly fluctuating given the supply and demand. To keep an eye on bitcoin, litecoin, or any other altcoin (an altcoin is coin other than bitcoin) head to coinmarketcap.

bitcoin vs. litecoin

bitcoin vs. litecoin: How many tokens are available?

  • The max supply of Bitcoins is 21 million. Every 10 minutes a new block of bitcoin is generated. The final Bitcoin will be mined 2140.
  • The max supply of Litecoins is 84 million. Every 2.5 minutes a new block of litecoin is generated.

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

Bitcoin is trending towards a replacement of gold as a store of value. Whereas gold exists with mass and weight in the physical world, bitcoin is an improvement to gold because it can be split into into very small fractions, and instantly sent to people, businesses, and banks around the world.

Litecoin is promising to replace cash. Due to its lower price and faster transaction times, it’s the perfect solution for buying a coffee, tipping a YouTuber, or gifting a friend or family member.

How to store bitcoin and litecoin:

Both web wallets, and hardware wallets exist for Bitcoin and Litecoin, and there are a multitude of options ranging high to low levels of security.

bitcoin (฿) and litecoin (Ł) bitcoin (฿) only
Hardware Trezor
Mobile Coinomi Samourai
Desktop Exodus Electrum
Web Jaxx
Paper Bitcoin Paper Wallet
Litecoin Paper Wallet

Learn more about Bitcoin and Litecoin:


* This piece was researched and co-written by Gregg Sandler.

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; Other co-founders include Gavin Wood and Joseph Lubin
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 $17,500 at the moment Around $800 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 them 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