Bitcoin vs Ethereum vs Cardano: Which is the Best Option for You?

Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Cardano– which is the best currency, a better buy, and more importantly, which system can serve people better?
If you’re wondering which is the best buy, I can’t really help with that. It’s a matter of debate and will solely depend on your trading preferences. However, if you want to focus on network use cases and applications, let’s discuss what these industry giants have in common and what sets them apart.

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Illustration: Milica Mijajlovic

Bitcoin vs Ethereum vs Cardano (ADA) Cryptocurrencies

It’s no joke when they say that cryptocurrencies are going mainstream. With thousands of different cryptocurrencies circulating the market, finding the right project to invest in or support can be challenging. Nevertheless, some hierarchy still exists among decentralized systems, and we can pinpoint the most important, or at least the most popular ones.

That said, Bitcoin (BTC) is the first cryptocurrency and blockchain project and is the most popular and valuable cryptocurrency to this day. Based on current market conditions and its influence on other coins, it’s safe to conclude that the ruling of Bitcoin won’t end anytime soon– arguably never.

Crypto world

Photo illustration: Freepik

Other contributing factors that make Bitcoin as valuable as it is today are its limited supply and the fact that it cannot be copied or counterfeited.

Just because it’s the most valuable currency, it doesn’t mean its price can’t occasionally be in shambles. Like other currencies, Bitcoin is the victim of the market’s severe volatility, but no matter how low it drops, it always remains more valuable than the competition.

Ethereum (ETH) is the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, but it’s not limited in supply. In other words, there isn’t a limit to how many ETH coins can exist and be created.

It’s a favored crypto that powers a very versatile blockchain, and some even argue that Ethereum is a better crypto than BTC due to having more practical use cases. Another intricate detail is that ETH could be mined before the Ethereum blockchain switched on a PoS (Proof of Stake) consensus mechanism. Network participants can no longer mine this crypto, but they can stake it and earn somewhat similar benefits and rewards.

Web 3.0 technology illustration

Photo illustration: Freepik

Now, unlike ETH, Cardano’s native currency ADA, always offered staking capabilities only. People would join forces in staking pools and earn lucrative rewards for improving security and creating Cardano blocks.

ADA’s max supply is 45B, and that’s one of the reasons the crypto’s price is so low. Cardano is also the youngest and least developed of the three. Still, Cardano has made lots of progress, especially now that it’s about to go through the last stage of its development.

Bitcoin vs Ethereum vs Cardano: The Blockchain Technology

Bitcoin cryptocurrency is the strongest player in the crypto game. However, the Bitcoin network isn’t.

That is because Bitcoin isn’t a programmable blockchain. Or in other words, it doesn’t support the execution of smart contracts, so it can’t be used for anything else besides transaction validations.

Blockchain technology

Photo illustration: Freepik

Ethereum and Cardano are practically designed to utilize the smart contracts’ potential. So, for example, due to smart contracts capability, the Ethereum blockchain became the primary choice for NFT minting. And while Cardano NFTs are slowly gaining traction, the network is more famous for its dApps (decentralized Apps).

Bitcoin Blockchain Pros and Cons

Bitcoin advantages:

  • Effective and reliable
  • Decentralized and censorship-resistant
  • Maintains a secure record of all BTC transactions

Bitcoin Cons:

  • It isn’t programmable
  • Can’t support complex and large applications

The Bitcoin blockchain is highly reliable, but as it wasn’t made to host applications on its base layer, its architecture is simple and can’t support complex apps the way some other blockchains can.

Bitcoin is also the crypto pioneer whose founder wanted to create a new payment system. It wasn’t until when Ethereum came into the picture that we began to find other implementations and use cases of blockchain technologies.

Ethereum Blockchain Pros and Cons

Ethereum pros:

  • Supports smart contracts
  • Home to thousands of NFTs
  • Runs on PoS consensus mechanism

Ethereum cons:

  • Not easily scalable
  • ETH currency isn’t as widespread as BTC
  • Ethereum gas fees are ridiculously high

Ethereum is the second most established network developed in 2015. This blockchain is faster than Bitcoin, but they’re designed to do different things, so the speed difference doesn’t go in Ethereum’s favor here.

Ethereum, however, can be used to create smart contracts, dApps, and even for making payments. It’s a well-established network that many developers and businesses use to enter the Web 3.0 world and build decentralized projects from scratch. As a result, Ethereum is home to over 2,000 innovative and well-built apps and projects in gaming, finance, web browsing, and many other sectors.

Ethereum dApp example

Source: OpenSea

Despite all that, Ethereum has flaws. One of its most significant flaws was that it used to run on a PoW consensus mechanism, which lead to low transaction speeds and astronomically high energy waste and gas fees. On top of that, networks that run on PoW involve mining. The equipment miners must purchase to contribute to the blockchain is expensive.

Luckily, Ethereum switched to the PoS consensus mechanism, which now uses less energy than before, but its users still have to pay through the nose for Ethereum gas fees.

Ethereum is still widely used regardless of the cost, and the hype around the second-largest crypto and its network won’t slow down anytime soon.

Cardano Blockchain Pros and Cons

Cardano Pros:

  • Lower costs and energy consumption
  • More scalable than Ethereum
  • Research-backed optimization

Cardano Cons:

  • Has many competitors
  • ADA often isn’t considered a valuable investment

Cardano is the youngest of all ecosystems mentioned in this article. So, it’s not as developed as its competitors, and therefore not attractive to everyone who wants to enter the market.

Regardless, developers and businesses recognize the potential of the Cardano ecosystem. They’re building dApps and business solutions on the network, allowing it to grow exponentially.

Although less popular than Ethereum, Cardano is excellent at solving problems in the blockchain world, such as scalability and interoperability. It’s even more scalable than Ethereum, and unlike the competitor, it’s a self-sustainable network.

Cardano supports smart contracts, meaning you can use it to mint NFTs, for example. Tens of thousands of NFT collections exist on this blockchain, so if you’re looking to avoid high Ethereum fees and mint your NFTs on a secure blockchain, Cardano is certainly your best choice.

Cardano NFT example

Source: aeoniumsky

Now that you know the basics let’s see how these ecosystems compare:

Supply limit21 millionUnlimited (supply is controlled using various techniques, including ETH burning)45 billion
Market cap$400.17B$189.83B$12.19B
Consensus mechanismProof-of-WorkProof-of-StakeProof-of-Stake
Scaling potentialLowModerateHigh
How many transactions per second can the blockchain handleUp to 10 TPSBetween 15-30 TPS (will likely improve)Up to 250 TPS

When it comes to max supply, Ethereum isn’t limited in the same way Bitcoin and Cardano are. Instead, the max coin supply is programmed to increase gradually, regardless of demand or the number of ETH transactions circulating the market.

Regarding market cap, it’s clear that Bitcoin is the most traded digital asset of these three. While Cardano’s market cap doesn’t look bad, it will undoubtedly take this currency years to reach and surpass Ethereum.

Crypto market

Photo illustration: Freepik

Still, the rest of the chart goes in Cardano’s favor and indicates the potential of this ecosystem. Cardano is highly scalable and can process more TPS than Bitcoin and Ethereum combined. On top of that, Cardano is the most energy-efficient ecosystem, and while there’s always more room for improvement, Cardano’s environmental impact isn’t nearly as harmful as Bitcoin’s or Ethereum’s.

Final Verdict

All three cryptocurrency projects have something to offer to their supporters. Bitcoin is a perfect ledger for BTC transactions, Ethereum is the place for the most valuable NFT and dApps, and Cardano has the potential to take over someday and surpass many competitors, including Ethereum.

But who knows, someone may develop better ecosystems soon, and the hype around these will begin to fade away. But for now, it’s safe to say that these are the most successful cryptocurrency projects that will continue to shape the world for years to come despite their differences and rivalry.

Jelena is a content writer dedicated to learning about all things crypto. Her hobbies are playing chess, drawing, baking, and going on long walks. During winter, she usually spends her leisure time reading books.