Cryptocurrency comparison

It’s cryptocurrency vs cryptocurrency, as we compare bitcoin, bitcoin cash, bitcoin gold, ether (ethereum), litecoin and ripple against each other.

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Markets Bid Offer Change
Bitcoin (USD)
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Ether (USD)
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Litecoin (USD)
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Ripple (USD)
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Bitcoin Cash (USD)
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Bitcoin Gold (USD)
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Prices above are subject to our  website terms and conditions. Prices are indicative only.

Cryptocurrency comparison table

The table below shows how the altcoins IG offers compare, while further down we explain how these factors may influence the cryptocurrencies’ valuations, and why they matter to traders. 

  Bitcoin (BTC) Bitcoin cash (BCH) Bitcoin gold (BTG) Ether (ETH) Litecoin (LTC) Ripple (XRP)
Launch 2009 2017 2017 2015 2011 2012
Circulating supply >16.8 million >16.9 million >16.9 million >97 million >55 million

>39 billion

Maximum supply 21 million 21 million 21 million

Unlimited

84 million 100 billion (pre-mined)
Current mining/release rate 12.5 per block 12.5 per block 12.5 per block 3 per block 25 per block 1 billion per month
Transactions per second (maximum) 7 60 7 20 56 1500
Network n/a n/a n/a Ethereum n/a RippleNet
Block time (approximate) 10m 10m 10m 15s 2m 3-s Near instant
Total blockchain size >185 GB >159 GB >163 GB >337 GB >14 GB Insufficient data


Cryptocurrency comparison table: bitcoin vs bitcoin cash vs bitcoin gold vs ether vs litecoin vs ripple (last checked 16 February 2018)* 

Bitcoin vs major altcoins

Launched in 2009, bitcoin was the first decentralised cryptocurrency. Since then more than 1400 altcoins have launched, accounting for a joint market capitalisation of hundreds of billions of dollars. While bitcoin remains the market leader, cryptocurrencies including ether, litecoin, ripple, bitcoin cash and bitcoin gold could challenge in the future as a result of rising demand, expanded applications, and technological advances. 

Bitcoin (BTC)

The original, and (for now) the biggest. It was launched in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonym for the mysterious person or group who created it, to secure payments across a peer-to-peer network. It aims to eliminate the need for a trusted third party, democratise money and ensure that transactions are anonymous. 

Learn more about bitcoin trading.

 Biggest pro(s): best known cryptocurrency

 Biggest con(s): slow transaction speeds, requires specialist mining equipment

Bitcoin cash (BCH)

Bitcoin cash is a standalone digital currency, created as an offshoot of bitcoin in August 2017 by a ‘hard fork’.  This was in response to the slowdown in bitcoin transaction speeds and the network’s inability to reach consensus on proposed upgrades. Bitcoin cash’s maximum block size is 8mb, compared to 1mb for bitcoin, allowing it to process more transactions each second.

 Biggest pro(s):faster transaction times than bitcoin

 Biggest con(s):requires specialist mining equipment

Bitcoin gold (BTG)

Bitcoin gold launched in November 2017 in another bitcoin hard fork. It aims to make mining accessible for all users (even those without specialist equipment), and to reduce the dominance of ‘mining pools’ (groups of miners that work together to mine coins more quickly). To work towards this aim, bitcoin gold’s creators have changed the algorithm used to verify transactions.

 Biggest pro(s): can be mined using standard computer equipment

 Biggest con(s): low transaction volume, low market capitalisation

Ether (ETH)

Ether is the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network, which allows users to code and release their own ‘decentralised applications’ (dapps), and create ‘smart’ contracts that automatically enforce their clauses. Small amounts of ether are destroyed as transactions are processed, preventing hackers from spamming the network.

Learn more about ether trading.

 Biggest pro(s): use beyond cryptocurrency on the Ethereum network, fast transaction speeds

 Biggest con(s): uncapped supply means that it could be inflationary

Litecoin (LTC)

Litecoin is designed to be ‘silver to bitcoin’s gold’, according to its founder Charlie Lee. And just as the supply of silver outstrips the supply of gold, litecoin’s maximum supply of 84 million coins is four times greater than bitcoin’s. There are also some fundamental technological differences between the two.

Learn more about litecoin trading.

 Biggest pro(s):fast transaction speeds

 Biggest con(s):low market capitalisation

Ripple (XRP)

Ripple is a cryptocurrency that underpins a payment network called RippleNet – used by major banks and financial institutions including Santander and American Express. Ripple operates in a very different way to other digital currencies, which has led some to question its credentials as a true decentralised cryptocurrency. 

Learn about ripple trading.

 Biggest pro(s):lightning fast transaction speeds

 Biggest con(s):RippleNet can be used without its underlying cryptocurrency, ripple

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Why do the differences between cryptocurrencies matter to traders?

The differences between coins matter to traders because they give vital clues as to how supply and demand for each coin may change over time, in turn influencing the cryptocurrencies’ prices.

Supply

Circulating supply and upper limit

The supply of coins plays an important role in setting market prices. All other things being equal, the more scarce the coin, the more valuable it should be. Bitcoin, bitcoin cash and bitcoin gold each have an upper limit of 21 million coins, while litecoin and ripple have expanded maximum supplies of 84 million and 100 billion respectively.

These coins will be deflationary once all the coins have been mined or released, while coins like ether – with no fixed limit – have the potential to be inflationary, depending on how much is ‘burnt’ or lost.  

Cryptocurrency mining and release rates

The supply of coins changes over time as new coins are mined or released. Mining is the process by ‘blocks’ of transactions are verified and new coins released.

Bitcoin is currently mined at a rate of 12.5 new coins for every verified block, with the reward halving roughly every four years (the final bitcoins will be mined around the year 2140).

Ripple coins, on the other hand, were pre-mined by its founders and are currently being released at a rate of one billion per month.

Demand

Reputation

Despite having fewer applications than many of its newer competitors, Bitcoin’s value has soared over the last few years, and it remains the biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation. This suggests that reputation remains an important factor in cryptocurrency valuations. Press coverage is likely to be an important factor here, with negative press – for example following a major wallet hack – tending to have a negative impact on prices.

Decentralised applications

While bitcoin, bitcoin cash, bitcoin gold, and litecoin are standalone cryptocurrencies, ether and ripple exist as part of wider networks with expanded applications. If the popularity of these networks increases or is adopted by mainstream businesses, demand for their underlying cryptocurrencies could surge.

Transaction speed and scalability

As adoption of cryptocurrencies accelerates, transaction speeds and their ability to handle a high volume of transactions is likely to come under increasing scrutiny. Scalability could also be influenced by blockchain size and security, as these factors will affect the profitability of mining, speed of the network, and willingness of users to buy and use coins. Traders should therefore pay attention to software updates and forks to see how scaling technology evolves.  

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* Table sources: CoinMarketCap, BitInfoCharts and HowMuch.

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