What are Altcoins? What are the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum?

In our special on the history and functioning of Bitcoin we told the birth of the mother of cryptocurrencies and of the first blockchain, fruit of the mind of the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto. But how are other virtual currencies defined?

Long story short, all cryptocurrencies outside of BTC are altcoin. This term is, therefore, used to define all those alternative currencies to Bitcoinfreely inspired by the latter and which often aim to shore up what, according to their creators, are the weaknesses of Bitcoin.

In the free market there are currently just under 20,000 alternative cryptocurrencies, a huge and constantly evolving number. Often these are meteors, but not always. Those that do make it often focus on specific aspects overlooked by the mother of cryptocurrencies. For example, Ethereum brought many revolutions to the industry, just as the contributions of coins such as Litecoin, Cardano, Solana and Tron.

Among the main differences we find blockchains that are faster, others cheaper, others even more secure. Between these, Ethereum stands out for its enormous versatility. Compared to Bitcoin, whose blockchain was designed specifically to counteract real money to achieve the concept of decentralized finance, Ethereum was born with very different assumptions.

At the base we find certainly superior performances in terms of approval speed, but not only. In addition to being able to collect encrypted information, in fact, it is possible to execute machine code on this blockchain. This concept is at the basis of Smart Contracts, fully automated applications that then allow you to interface with the public in various ways. For example, they can be used to create NFTs, or connected to a graphical interface, an app, which allows the user to sign contracts on the blockchain automatically. A practical example of this latter aspect is precisely the purchase of a non-fungible token (for those interested, we recommend reading our special on what NFTs are), but the fields of application are almost infinite.