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Bitcoin vs Litecoin: How are BTC and LTC different?

We compare bitcoin and Litecoin side by side in this in-depth guide.

Updated

Fact checked

As the world’s oldest and largest cryptocurrency, bitcoin (BTC) needs no introduction. While not as well-known as its bigger brother, Litecoin (LTC) has also long been one of the world’s largest digital currencies by market cap and has a loyal following in the crypto community.

So, what’s the difference between bitcoin and Litecoin and how do they compare to one another? To find out, let’s take a look at the history, features and the role of each coin.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade.

Head to head: Bitcoin vs Litecoin

Bitcoin (BTC)

Buy bitcoin

Litecoin (LTC)

Buy Litecoin

Launch dateJanuary 3, 2009October 7, 2011
FounderSatoshi NakamotoCharlie Lee
OriginUnknownUnited States
Max. number of tokens21 million84 million
Token usesDigital assetDigital asset
IndustryPeer-to-peer digital currencyPeer-to-peer digital currency
Consensus algorithmProof of workProof of work
AlgorithmSHA-256Scrypt
Decentralised?
  • Yes
  • Yes
Mineable?
  • Yes
  • Yes
Buy token

Where to buy bitcoin and Litecoin

We’ve compiled a list of exchanges where you can buy bitcoin and Litecoin. Compare below or head to our step-by-step guide for how to buy bitcoin or comprehensive guide on how to buy Litecoin.

Name Product Deposit methods Fiat Currencies Cryptocurrencies
Wire transfer,Online banking
USD

15
cryptocurrencies

Disclaimer: eToro USA LLC does not offer CFDs and makes no representation and assumes no liability as to the accuracy or completeness of the content of this publication, which has been prepared by our partner utilizing publicly available non-entity specific information about eToro. Your capital is at risk.

Copy the trades of leading cryptocurrency investors on this unique social investment platform. Non-US residents can read our review of eToro's global site here.
Bank transfer (ACH),PayPal,Bank transfer (SEPA),SWIFT,Xfers,Credit or Debit Card
USD, AUD, CAD, CHF, EUR, GBP, NZD, SGD, JPY, ZAR & 9+ more

64
cryptocurrencies

Get credit card crypto purchase fees waived when signing up for Crypto.com. T&Cs apply.
Buy 55+ cryptocurrencies at true cost, earn up to 8% p.a. on holdings, pay with your crypto for cashback at stores, get loans and more with this complete crypto-finance platform.
Bank transfer (ACH),Credit card,Debit card,Bank transfer (SEPA),Wire transfer
USD, EUR, GBP

24
cryptocurrencies

Buy and sell major cryptocurrencies on one of the world's most renowned cryptocurrency exchanges.
Credit card,Bank transfer (SEPA),SOFORT,SWIFT,Fedwire
USD, EUR, AUD, CAD, GBP, JPY

10
cryptocurrencies

Founded in 2013, CoinMama lets you buy and sell popular cryptos with a range of payment options and quick delivery.
Bank transfer (ACH),Bank transfer,Cryptocurrency,Debit card,Wire transfer
USD

28
cryptocurrencies

Get a US$15 bonus when you trade US$100 or more of any supported crypto. T&Cs apply.
Trade with USD on Binance.US, the American dollar onramp of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. Non-US residents can read our review of Binance's main exchange here.
Electronic Funds Transfer,Wire transfer,Osko,PayID,Ethana Custody
USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, CAD, CHF, AUD

40
cryptocurrencies

Buy, sell and trade a range of digital currencies on this high-liquidity exchange – suitable for beginners right through to advanced traders.

UK residents: In addition to normal crypto trading, Kraken offers margin lending. As this is a regulated activity which they are not authorised to offer in the UK, we advise you not to use this service. If you're interested in margin trading, see authorised providers.
Bank transfer (ACH),Credit card,Bank transfer (SEPA), Faster Payments Service,Skrill
USD, EUR, GBP, RUB

23
cryptocurrencies

Disclaimer: Highly volatile investment product. Your capital is at risk.
Use your USD, EUR or RUB to buy and sell cryptocurrency at competitive exchange rates and with high maximums for verified accounts.
Cash,Credit card,Cryptocurrency,PayPal,Western Union
DZD, XCD, ARS, AMD, AWG, AUD, AZN, BSD, BHD, BDT & 140+ more

1
cryptocurrency

Connect with bitcoin buyers and sellers through this peer-to-peer marketplace that accepts cash, credit and more than 300 other payment methods.
Credit card,Cryptocurrency
USD, JPY, RUB, EUR

387
cryptocurrencies

CoinSwitch allows you to compare and convert over 250 cryptocurrencies across all exchanges.
AdvCash,Credit card,Debit card,Neteller,Payeer
USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, JPY

9
cryptocurrencies

Buy Bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies with credit card or debit card on this digital cryptocurrency exchange.

US residents: Restricted in the following states - NY, CT, NM, WA, HI, AL, VT, FL, AK, NV.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Deposit methods Fiat Currencies Cryptocurrencies
Wire transfer,Online banking
USD

15
cryptocurrencies

Disclaimer: eToro USA LLC does not offer CFDs and makes no representation and assumes no liability as to the accuracy or completeness of the content of this publication, which has been prepared by our partner utilizing publicly available non-entity specific information about eToro. Your capital is at risk.

Copy the trades of leading cryptocurrency investors on this unique social investment platform. Non-US residents can read our review of eToro's global site here.
Bank transfer (ACH),PayPal,Bank transfer (SEPA),SWIFT,Xfers,Credit or Debit Card
USD, AUD, CAD, CHF, EUR, GBP, NZD, SGD, JPY, ZAR & 9+ more

64
cryptocurrencies

Get credit card crypto purchase fees waived when signing up for Crypto.com. T&Cs apply.
Buy 55+ cryptocurrencies at true cost, earn up to 8% p.a. on holdings, pay with your crypto for cashback at stores, get loans and more with this complete crypto-finance platform.
Bank transfer (ACH),Credit card,Debit card,Bank transfer (SEPA),Wire transfer
USD, EUR, GBP

24
cryptocurrencies

Buy and sell major cryptocurrencies on one of the world's most renowned cryptocurrency exchanges.
Credit card,Bank transfer (SEPA),SOFORT,SWIFT,Fedwire
USD, EUR, AUD, CAD, GBP, JPY

10
cryptocurrencies

Founded in 2013, CoinMama lets you buy and sell popular cryptos with a range of payment options and quick delivery.
Electronic Funds Transfer,Wire transfer,Osko,PayID,Ethana Custody
USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, CAD, CHF, AUD

40
cryptocurrencies

Buy, sell and trade a range of digital currencies on this high-liquidity exchange – suitable for beginners right through to advanced traders.

UK residents: In addition to normal crypto trading, Kraken offers margin lending. As this is a regulated activity which they are not authorised to offer in the UK, we advise you not to use this service. If you're interested in margin trading, see authorised providers.
Bank transfer (ACH),Credit card,Bank transfer (SEPA), Faster Payments Service,Skrill
USD, EUR, GBP, RUB

23
cryptocurrencies

Disclaimer: Highly volatile investment product. Your capital is at risk.
Use your USD, EUR or RUB to buy and sell cryptocurrency at competitive exchange rates and with high maximums for verified accounts.
AdvCash,Credit card,Debit card,Neteller,Payeer
USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, JPY

9
cryptocurrencies

Buy Bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies with credit card or debit card on this digital cryptocurrency exchange.

US residents: Restricted in the following states - NY, CT, NM, WA, HI, AL, VT, FL, AK, NV.
Credit card,Cryptocurrency
USD, JPY, RUB, EUR

387
cryptocurrencies

CoinSwitch allows you to compare and convert over 250 cryptocurrencies across all exchanges.
Cryptocurrency

6
cryptocurrencies

Disclaimer: Highly volatile investment product. Your capital is at risk.
Trade cryptocurrency derivatives with high liquidity for bitcoin spot and futures, and up to 100x leverage on margin trading.
Credit card,Debit card
USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, CAD, CHF, HKD, JPY, PHP, ZAR & 30+ more

146
cryptocurrencies

Access competitive crypto-to-crypto exchange rates for 150+ cryptocurrencies on this global exchange.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Did you know?

Bitcoin and Litecoin: A brief history

Bitcoin’s origins can be traced back to 2008 when Satoshi Nakamoto, whose true identity remains unknown, released a now-legendary paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. In it, Nakamoto outlined a vision for peer-to-peer electronic cash that would decentralize the world’s financial systems.

In January 2009, bitcoin was launched. Using a public ledger known as a blockchain to record and validate transactions, bitcoin is designed to function independently of any central authority such as a government or bank.

You wouldn’t have known it at the time, but bitcoin was to inspire a whole generation of cryptocurrencies. One of these was Litecoin, which Google employee Charlie Lee created by modifying bitcoin’s open-source code. Launched in October 2011, Litecoin was designed to offer faster, more affordable transactions than bitcoin, making it a much more practical digital currency for everyday use.

As Lee would famously state, “Litecoin is the silver to bitcoin’s gold.”

Prices: Bitcoin vs Litecoin

Bitcoin

Litecoin


How similar are bitcoin and Litecoin?

On the surface at least, there are plenty of similarities between bitcoin and Litecoin. Both of them are cryptocurrencies designed to remove the need for centralized control, both can be used as digital cash, and both rely on a proof-of-work algorithm to achieve network consensus.

But there are far more differences than there are similarities.

How bitcoin works vs how Litecoin works: 5 key differences

1. Total coin supply

This is one of the most obvious differences between the two coins. While bitcoin’s maximum supply of coins will never exceed 21 million, Litecoin’s upper limit is four times higher at 84 million. As of June 2018, there are approximately 17.1 million BTC and 57 million LTC in circulation, representing approximately 81% and 68% of their respective total supply.

In terms of their practicality for everyday use, this difference in the supply limits doesn’t really have any effect. This is due to the fact that both currencies can be divided into tiny amounts – the minimum amount of BTC you can transfer is 0.00000001 BTC (one hundred-millionth of a BTC), which is known colloquially as a Satoshi – so they can still be used to purchase low-cost goods and services.

2. Transaction processing speed

Although bitcoin and Litecoin transactions are technically processed instantly, it takes time for those transactions to be confirmed by other network participants.

Litecoin is significantly faster than bitcoin at confirming transactions. While bitcoin’s average confirmation time is around 10 minutes per transaction, Litecoin’s network typically takes around 2.5 minutes to confirm a transaction. In times of heavy network congestion, bitcoin confirmation times have even stretched beyond a day. This theoretically makes Litecoin a more attractive proposition for merchants and others who need to frequently conduct transactions.

However, bitcoin advocates have pointed out that many merchants would happily allow zero-confirmation transactions on most purchases.

3. Mining algorithms

Both bitcoin and Litecoin can be generated by mining, with new bitcoin blocks generated every 10 minutes and new Litecoin blocks every 2.5 minutes. However, the algorithms these two currencies use to determine the mining process that generates new coins are different – bitcoin uses the SHA-256 algorithm and Litecoin’s algorithm is called Scrypt.

The SHA-256 algorithm is widely considered to allow a greater degree of parallel processing. This has seen the development of increasingly sophisticated mining methods, with the vast majority of bitcoin mining now carried out by Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). Built for the sole purpose of mining bitcoin, these expensive hardware systems have taken bitcoin mining far out of reach for the everyday user.

Meanwhile, Litecoin’s Scrypt algorithm was designed to offer more resistance to custom hardware solutions. This makes it more accessible to new miners and those who can no longer mine bitcoin. However, the introduction of Scrypt ASICs to the market in recent years means Litecoin is nowhere near as easy to mine as it once was.

4. Volume of transactions

Transaction throughput is another key yardstick used to measure the performance of cryptocurrencies. While bitcoin’s network is capable of handling around 7 transactions per second, Litecoin’s maximum capacity is 56 transactions per second.

While Litecoin is a clear winner in this category, it still falls well short of other popular currencies, such as Ripple’s 1,500 transactions per second.

5. Market capitalization and popularity

In terms of market capitalization and widespread recognition, bitcoin stands head and shoulders above all other cryptocurrencies. As of June 2018, bitcoin has the largest market capitalization of any cryptocurrency, at almost $116 billion. Litecoin is a long way back in sixth position, with a market cap of $5.59 billion.


The bottom line: Bitcoin vs Litecoin

Now that we know how bitcoin and Litecoin compare, which advantages does each currency hold over the other?

Why might you buy bitcoin?

Bitcoin undoubtedly has its shortcomings, particularly in confirmation times and problems with scalability, but as a store of value, it’s currently unparalleled in the crypto world. As the oldest and most widely accepted digital currency, it has a level of widespread recognition that makes other cryptos turn green with envy.

Why might you buy Litecoin?

Where Litecoin outperforms bitcoin is as a medium for a transaction. Given that this was the coin’s original purpose, that should come as no great surprise. Litecoin transactions are confirmed faster and attract significantly lower fees than the bitcoin network, making it more suitable for everyday use.

FAQ


  • Picture: Shutterstock

    Disclosure: At the time of this writing, the author holds ADA, ICX, IOTA and XLM.


    Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

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