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Bitcoin vs Litecoin: How are BTC and LTC different?

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

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 purpose 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 date3 January 20097 October 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
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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
KuCoin Cryptocurrency Exchange
KuCoin Cryptocurrency Exchange
Cryptocurrency, PayPal, Wire transfer, Credit or Debit Card, SEPA
USD, EUR, GBP, RUB, CNY, AUD, KRW, JPY, TRY, VND & 40+ more

458
cryptocurrencies

Finder exclusive: Sign up and use code 1xf56 for one month of VIP 1 benefits. Deposit/transfer more than 0.1 BTC to KuCoin within 7 days of registration for 1 month of VIP 2 benefits. T&Cs apply.
Browse a variety of coin offerings in one of the largest multi-cryptocurrency exchanges and pay in cryptocurrency.
Crypto.com App
Credit card, Cryptocurrency, PayPal, TransferWise, SEPA
USD, AUD, CAD, CHF, EUR, GBP, NZD, SGD, JPY, ZAR & 9+ more

156
cryptocurrencies

Buy 100+ cryptocurrencies, earn up to 14.5% p.a. on holdings, pay with your crypto for cashback at stores, get loans and more with this complete crypto-finance platform.
Gate.io Cryptocurrency Exchange
Cryptocurrency
USD, EUR, GBP, HKD, SGD, AUD, CHF, MXN

865
cryptocurrencies

Finder exclusive: New users get $90 worth of Gate.IO points and an airdrop of $5 in GateTokens if trade volume exceeds $100 in their first week. T&Cs apply.
A feature-rich exchange with over 700 tokens including derivatives, yield farming and lending products.
FTX Cryptocurrency Exchange
FTX Cryptocurrency Exchange
Credit card, Wire transfer, Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN), Signature SIGNET
USD,EUR,GBP,AUD,HKD,SGD,TRY,ZAR,CAD,CHF,BRL

72
cryptocurrencies

Sign up through Finder for a 5% discount on all trading fees. T&Cs apply.
FTX is an exchange built by traders for traders, with a range of derivatives markets such as options and futures with deep leverage, in addition to standard spot markets. Note: Not available for US customers.
AAX Cryptocurrency Exchange
AAX Cryptocurrency Exchange
Alipay, Bank transfer, Cash, Neteller, PayPal, Qiwi, SWIFT, WeChat, Western Union, UPI, IMPS, Paytm, Faster Payments (FPS), PayNow, Swish, Payme
AUD, CAD, CNH, CHF, EUR, GBP, HKD, NZD, SGD, USD

110
cryptocurrencies

Make fast transactions including spot, futures and P2P trading with this cryptocurrency exchange.
Coinmama Cryptocurrency Marketplace
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Debit card
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.
Bitfinex Professional Trading Exchange
Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Bank Wire
USD, EUR, GBP, JPY

171
cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies are a highly volatile investment product. Your capital is at risk.
Spot trade all of the major cryptos on this full-featured exchange and margin trading platform.
Paybis Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Neteller, Skrill, Apple Pay
EUR, GBP, USD, AUD, CAD, PHP, SGD, CHF, HKD, JPY & 30+ more

32
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.
OKEx Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Cryptocurrency, iDEAL, PayPal, POLi, SEPA, Faster Payments (FPS)
USD, CNY, EUR, ARS, AUD, BGN, BRL, CAD, CHF, COP & 20+ more

281
cryptocurrencies

Earn US$10 in BTC when you refer a friend and they purchase $100 of cryptocurrency. T&Cs apply.
Listing over 100 cryptocurrencies, OKEx offers its users a variety of payment methods and coins to choose from.
CEX.IO Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, SWIFT, SEPA, Faster Payments (FPS)
USD, EUR, GBP, RUB

22
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.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Deposit methods Fiat Currencies Cryptocurrencies
Coinbase Digital Currency Exchange
Bank transfer (ACH)
USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, MXN, HRK, CZK, DKK, CLP, BGN & 10+ more

75
cryptocurrencies

Buy and sell major cryptocurrencies on one of the world's most renowned cryptocurrency exchanges.
eToro Cryptocurrency Trading
eToro Cryptocurrency Trading
Bank transfer, Credit card, Debit card, Neteller, PayPal, Online banking, Skrill
EUR, GBP, NZD, USD, AUD, CAD, HKD, SGD, CHF, NOK & 5+ more

36
cryptocurrencies

Disclaimer: Volatile investment product. 75% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Copy the trades of leading cryptocurrency investors on this unique social investment platform. $200 minimum deposit.
CEX.IO Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, SWIFT, SEPA, Faster Payments (FPS)
USD, EUR, GBP, RUB

22
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.
Paybis Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Neteller, Skrill, Apple Pay
EUR, GBP, USD, AUD, CAD, PHP, SGD, CHF, HKD, JPY & 30+ more

32
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.
Coinmama Cryptocurrency Marketplace
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Debit card
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.
Bittrex Global
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Debit card
USD

283
cryptocurrencies

Buy from one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges with a selection of over 190+ cryptocurrencies and 3 USD pairings.
Bitfinex Professional Trading Exchange
Bitfinex Professional Trading Exchange
Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Bank Wire
USD, EUR, GBP, JPY

171
cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies are a highly volatile investment product. Your capital is at risk.
Spot trade all of the major cryptos on this full-featured exchange and margin trading platform.
Huobi Cryptocurrency Exchange
AdvCash, Cryptocurrency, SWIFT, Wire transfer
GBP, USD, AUD, EUR, INR, BRL, KHR, CAD,CNY, NZD & 15+ more

232
cryptocurrencies

Huobi is a digital currency exchange that allows its users to trade more than 190 cryptocurrency pairs.
Bithumb Cryptocurrency Exchange
Cryptocurrency
KRW

198
cryptocurrencies

A global platform where users can make KRW and cryptocurrency deposits to purchase up to 15 popular cryptocurrencies.
Bitstamp Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Cryptocurrency, Credit or Debit Card, SEPA, Faster Payments (FPS)
USD, EUR, GBP

40
cryptocurrencies

A global cryptocurrency exchange that facilitates crypto to fiat transactions, where you can use EUR or USD to buy bitcoin and popular altcoins.
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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 decentralise 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 centralised 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, but 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, while Litecoin’s maximum capacity is 56 transactions per second.

But 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 capitalisation and popularity

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