Are Crypto and Bitcoin the Same Thing?



At some point, you may have believed that Bitcoin is the same as cryptocurrency. You may even still believe this. People frequently use these terms interchangeably, although each has distinct functionalities and identities.

So, are crypto and Bitcoin truly synonymous? Or, if they’re different, what’s the distinction between the two?

5 Differences Between Crypto and Bitcoin

Cryptocurrency is a broad term for all virtual currencies, including Bitcoin. Virtual currencies are a medium of exchange on blockchains that aren’t reliant on centralized authorities like banks and governments.

On the other hand, Bitcoin (BTC) is a digital currency that uses cryptography to facilitate decentralized monetary transactions. As the first cryptocurrency, BTC’s popularity gave rise to the idea that it’s the same as crypto.

The key difference between cryptocurrency and Bitcoin is that Bitcoin is one crypto among the thousands of cryptocurrencies available. In contrast, cryptocurrency is a general term describing all virtual currencies.

Here are the specific ways in which Bitcoin and crypto differ:

1. How They Are Created

Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonym for a Japanese group, created Bitcoin in 2009 using blockchain technology based on decentralization, cryptography, and consensus.

Bitcoin is entirely run by peer-to-peer global computer networks, making it one of the most decentralized cryptos. The premier crypto is based on public key cryptography or asymmetric cryptography, which means Bitcoin holders have a public address for receiving Bitcoin and a private key for spending the asset.

Also, Bitcoin uses a Proof of Work (PoW) consensus algorithm to verify and confirm transactions. PoW involves the miners (participants in the Bitcoin network) solving complex cryptographic puzzles to verify and confirm new blocks.

However, this is not the way all cryptocurrencies are created. Not all cryptos are controlled or created by P2P networks—some are managed by a particular organization. For instance, Binance Coin (BNB) is run by Binance, which controls the supply of BNB.

Although most cryptos use public key cryptography like Bitcoin, they do not all use the same algorithms. For instance, Bitcoin uses the RSA algorithm, which enables the simultaneous generation of public and private keys. Meanwhile, Ethereum uses the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA), allowing you to choose a private key and generate a corresponding public key.

Similarly, not all cryptos employ Bitcoin’s consensus model. A commonly utilized consensus algorithm is Proof of Stake (PoS), where blockchain participants lock their crypto assets for the chance to verify and confirm transactions. While Bitcoin uses PoW, Ethereum uses PoS, Bitshares uses Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS), and Ethereum Kovan uses Proof of Authority (PoA).

2. How They Are Used

Bitcoin was created to facilitate peer-to-peer monetary transactions and serve as a store of value. Because of its privacy and anonymity, you can securely use the digital asset to perform and record various financial transactions. Due to fluctuating demand and supply, Bitcoin is also an investment and trading instrument.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrency encompasses all types of digital currencies, which have various use cases and functionalities. Many blockchains have cryptocurrencies supporting services like carbon offsetting, decentralized finance, and gaming.

While Bitcoin focuses on providing decentralized transactions, cryptocurrencies like Ethereum support smart contracts and decentralized applications. Cryptos like Chainlink (LINK) or Binance Coin (BNB) serve as crypto utility tokens for specific digital ecosystems, so you can’t use them outside their platforms, unlike Bitcoin.

3. How They Are Stored

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All crypto, including Bitcoin, is stored in cryptocurrency wallets. Since crypto is intangible and can’t be held physically, these wallets keep your private and public keys. They could be software-based or hardware-based.

Crypto wallets interact with several networks to enable you to send, receive, or use your digital currencies. As a result, each crypto has a unique wallet.

You can only store Bitcoin in a Bitcoin wallet; the same applies to other cryptos. This is because Bitcoin is a different blockchain from other cryptocurrencies, and its underlying wallet is designed only to support Bitcoin.

Remember that cryptocurrencies use different public key cryptography algorithms. This also contributes to the incompatibility between cryptos and other wallets.

4. The Monetary Policy and Supply

Bitcoin has a fixed supply capacity of 21 million coins. This means there will only be 21 million Bitcoins in existence.

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Bitcoin’s supply cap is a unique part of its design and distinguishes it from other cryptocurrencies. Unlike Bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies have a higher maximum supply rate. For instance, Ethereum has an infinite maximum supply capacity, Dogecoin has 129.5 billion, and Shiba Inu has one quadrillion.

Bitcoin’s monetary policy also includes regular halving events, where block rewards from mining are reduced by half every four years. Only a few other cryptos that use the same consensus algorithm as Bitcoin, like Litecoin and Monero, perform this halving event.

Because of its fixed supply cap and regular halving events, Bitcoin is quite deflationary; its value increases over time as less is created. In contrast, some cryptocurrencies have monetary policies tied to economic and government policies. Therefore, their supply limits are adjustable. As a result, their inflationary and deflationary rates are flexible.

5. Market Capitalization

Bitcoin’s market capitalization represents the value of Bitcoin as a single cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, the market capitalization of cryptocurrency is the combined value of all the cryptocurrencies in circulation.

Bitcoin, mainly because it’s the premier digital currency, has the highest market capitalization in the crypto space. Because of its large market cap, it is a benchmark for the general cryptocurrency market.

Bitcoin’s market capitalization is over $500 billion, while the broader cryptocurrency market capitalization is around $1 trillion. This means that Bitcoin has a market dominance of about 40% in the general crypto market. Significant price declines or increases in Bitcoin’s value will impact the crypto market. However, changes in smaller cryptocurrencies may not have much effect on the crypto market.

Additionally, introducing new projects and innovations does not influence Bitcoin’s market capitalization. Since Bitcoin has a well-established position as the most popular and valuable cryptocurrency in the industry, its price value is not entirely controlled by competitors. In contrast, the market capitalization of many other cryptocurrencies varies depending on adoption, utility, new projects, and popularity among investors.

3 Similarities Between Crypto and Bitcoin

Despite their differences, Bitcoin and cryptocurrency fall under the umbrella of virtual currencies, so they have several similarities.

1. They Are Both Digital Currencies

Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin are digital currencies that exist electronically. They do not have physical forms like banknotes and coins. Typically, they serve as digital payment methods and means of financial exchanges.

2. Blockchain Technology

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rely on blockchain technology, a distributed ledger. Blockchain technology records all information and transactions across the network to Bitcoin or other cryptos’ security and transparency.

3. Cryptography

Cryptography plays a vital role in digital currencies. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency use cryptographic techniques to maintain the privacy and security of all transactions made on the blockchain. Cryptography also makes digital currencies immune to infringement and fraud.

Bitcoin and Crypto Are Not the Same

Digital currencies have made a mark in the financial sector, delivering swift, low-cost, secure, and transparent transactions. Bitcoin has had a head start over other cryptocurrencies. Its popularity as the first cryptocurrency gives it dominance over the crypto industry.

However, while Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, not all cryptocurrencies are Bitcoin. Understanding the differences and similarities between cryptocurrency and Bitcoin is essential for you to leverage the benefits of digital currencies.


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