Ether, the currency used to complete transactions on the Ethereum network (learn more) and Bitcoin have many fundamental similarities. They are both cryptocurrencies that are rooted in blockchain technology. This means that independent computers around the world volunteer to keep a list of transactions, allowing each coin’s history to be checked and confirmed.
They are both virtual currencies that are actively used for services, contracts, and as a store of value. Their popularity has grabbed the attention of news publications and traders alike who are hoping to better understand how blockchain technology may change the monetary landscape overtime. This is where most of the similarities end.
Their decentralized nature is a big change from traditional currencies, but they are not accepted everywhere. While Bitcoin is accepted more widely and viewed as an international digital currency, Ether is only accepted for transactions Digital Applications (Dapps) that run on the Ethereum network.
Key differences between Ether and Bitcoin
Both Ether and Bitcoin are cryptocurrencies that are based on blockchain technology. Beyond that, the currencies are quite different and have different uses.
Bitcoin is what most people think about when they hear the words ‘blockchain’ or ‘crypto’. It was the first use case for blockchain technology and reimagined what currency could be if it were not tied to a specific central bank or country.
Its technology also makes it difficult to be stolen or tampered with since all machines on the decentralized network need to agree on the terms of any transaction. This mostly means confirming that the payee is the rightful owner of the currency.
The coin can either be traded on the open market or you can lend computing power to the network (mining) and be paid in Bitcoin for the use of your machine (harvesting).
The maximum amount of Bitcoins that can ever be produced is 21 million, introducing scarcity into the market. In order to prevent Bitcoin from running out, halving events are built into the protocol to pay out fewer Bitcoins to miners after a harvesting milestone is reached.
Traders commonly keep an eye on these events as some have created market volatility while others have created no noticeable market movements.
Shortly after Bitcoin’s release, Ethereum looked at the way they were using blockchain technology and imagined how it could be used beyond just as a currency.
Beginning with Smart Contracts and decentralized Applications (Dapps), Ethereum soon realized that they needed a single currency for their platform that could be trusted in line with their protocols. This led the Ethereum Foundation, a body that oversees Ethereum’s activity but can not independently change protocols, to create Ether.
Ether is mined in the same manner as Bitcoin, but unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum miners can charge a fee for confirming a transaction. In addition, there is no limit to the amount of Ether that can be released. This removed the perceived scarcity that may be a factor in Bitcoin’s higher valuation.
Ether is the recognized currency that can be used across the Ethereum network but is not widely accepted elsewhere. On the same note, Bitcoin can not be used as a recognized currency on the Ethereum platform.
Ethereum and Bitcoin operate on separate protocols and their processes are not related to one another. This means that some transactions that may be allowed on one platform may not be allowed on another. This becomes a question when considering permissioned vs permissionless transactions.
Will Ethereum overtake Bitcoin?
Both Ethereum’s Ether and Bitcoin have many factors that contribute to their valuations.
In order to speculate on the valuations of cryptos such as Bitcoin and Ether, traders must ask key questions such as:
- How is each coin used?
- How widely accepted is it today? How widely accepted will it be in the future?
- What can historical data tell us about this instrument?
While Bitcoin has traditionally held a higher price valuation than Ether, it is important to note that the cryptocurrency market thus far has been highly volatile, and will likely continue to remain volatile. In contrast to stocks, commodities, or even centrally-regulated currencies, a cryptocurrency’s underlying value is unclear.