Bitcoin vs. Altcoins

Timothy Sevilleja
Feb 19, 2024

It is almost common knowledge in the crypto space that Bitcoin (BTC) is the largest and very first cryptocurrency. It is very easy to see, then, why ‚ÄòBitcoin' and ‚Äòcryptocurrency' have become synonymous with each other. 

However, both do not mean the same thing. Bitcoin is a form of cryptocurrency; specifically, it is the largest and most well-known cryptocurrency, but it's NOT the only one in the market. 


Altcoins, short for alternative coins, are the other hundreds of thousands of cryptocurrencies OTHER THAN BTC. 

For example, Litecoin (LTC) is the very first altcoin and was a fork or ‚Äòversion' of BTC. It endeavored to make a faster version of Bitcoin with lower transaction fees. With this, developers and creators realized the potential of blockchain technology for purposes other than payments, and thus created coins with varying uses and characteristics. 

Now, there are thousands of these alternatives in the crypto market, each with its respective distinctions. 

Image taken from Elplanteo

Examples of Altcoins

These are just some of the most popular altcoins today:

  1. Ether (ETH) is the native coin of the Ethereum network. It is the second-largest cryptocurrency in the market in terms of market value as well as the second most popular coin next to BTC. Launched in 2015, the network is used for a variety of purposes, including global payments and non-fungible tokens; ETH, meanwhile,  is used to pay transaction fees and build applications on top of the network.
  2. Ripple (XRP) is a native coin created by Ripple Labs Inc.. The network is widely used to facilitate digital payments for both fiat and cryptocurrencies while taking a small amount of XRP as a transaction fee. XRP can process 1,500 transactions per second and has a circulating supply of 49.83 billion tokens. 
  3. Solana (SOL) is the cryptocurrency of a blockchain platform of the same name. Developed by Solana Labs in 2017, it is also currently one of the largest cryptocurrencies around. It has lower transaction fees and can process transactions more efficiently* than even the likes of Ethereum. 
  4. Cardano (ADA) is the resident coin of the Cardano network. The network was founded by Charles Hoskinson, who is also the co-founder of Ethereum. Designed to be the "Ethereum killer", ADA's goal is to be more scalable and sustainable than its predecessors. This is accomplished by such features as its Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, in contrast to the Proof-of-Work (PoW) mechanism that BTC uses. As such, it can handle up to 250 transactions per second. It also boasts more than 3.5 million Cardano wallets in use with around 100,000 average users per week.
  5. Tether (USDT, EURT, XAUT, CHNT, MXNT), unlike the other altcoins mentioned in this article, is a stablecoin. The different Tether coins are classified by which asset they represent; USDT is based on the U.S. Dollar, EURT is based on the Euro, XAUT is based on gold, CHNT is based on the Chinese Yuan, and MXNT is based on the Mexican Peso. As such, Tether was created to allow users to transact fiat currency in a digital and decentralized manner.
  6. Binance Coin (BNB) is the currency being used to pay transaction fees and buy digital items in the Binance network, the largest crypto exchange in the world as of writing. Before being the native currency of the Binance chain, BNB used to be based on the Ethereum network. BNB can also process up to 1.4 million transactions per second.

Bitcoin < Altcoins? 

Bitcoin holds several ‘advantages' over its alternatives, brought about by its status of being the primary cryptocurrency.

For one, BTC is much less volatile than altcoins. It is considered one of the most stable investments in the crypto space. It is the most purchased, held, and traded coin on the market, making it a highly liquid asset. The coin dominates the total market capitalization of cryptocurrencies, with BTC's market cap accounting for about 30% of it. To add, as nations worldwide begin to adopt cryptocurrencies, the demand for Bitcoin as the chosen cryptocurrency for transactions will continue to rise.

Altcoins > Bitcoin?

Each altcoin is designed to have varying characteristics and uses. Holding various altcoins gives you a bunch of utility that you can use in the ever-growing web3 space. With this, more and more innovations are being integrated into every new coin introduced in the market, each serving to improve upon older coins. For example, the aforementioned Cardano's Proof of Stake consensus mechanism is one such innovation on Proof of Work.

Image taken from Publish0x


Remember, altcoins were created for purposes different to that of BTC, which means that we cannot definitively say which one is better than the other. For investors or businesses buying or investing in Bitcoin is generally more preferred due to its reputation and stability. Altcoins, although riskier and more volatile, are respectively attractive for their innovations and ‚Äòhigh reward potential'. 

So, what's the pick? Should you stick to ol' reliable Bitcoin? Or, should you buy altcoins that could yield more profits in a shorter amount of time? The answer is: it's up to you. Every person works with their own set of rules and goals when it comes to investing. Whether it be risk-reward ratios, asset fundamentals, or profit targets, every investor's goals and risk appetite should dictate their choices. Invest carefully guys!


Timothy Sevilleja
Marketing Intern, Freelance Content Writer

Content writer for different publications across different genres.

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