Of the many cryptocurrencies in existence today, Litecoin stands out as a bit of an odd creature. Ignored by many enthusiasts and subject to its developer cashing out years ago, the popular altcoin is still going strong today. There are certain benefits to using Litecoin in this modern-day and age.
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A Bitcoin Fork With A Twist
Created by Charlie Lee in 2011, Litecoin is one of the oldest Bitcoin forks that has ever existed. Even though this project borrows many elements from Bitcoin in a way, it is also very different. Creating an exact copy of Bitcoin would not serve any purpose, after all. Charlie Lee quickly identified certain shortcomings Bitcoin posed – and still poses today – and tried to improve upon them.
Compared to Bitcoin, Litecoin is a faster and cheaper alternative. It has a block time of 2.5 minutes, compared to Bitcoin’s 10 minutes. As such, the network can process four times as many transactions per hour, even though it has been pushed to the limit since being created. However, that situation may come to change in the future, especially as more people discover the viable alternative that Litecoin can be.
Second, Bitcoin uses a different mining and consensus algorithm than Litecoin. The system used by Litecoin is less demanding and less computer-intensive, giving anyone with a computer a chance to mine LTC even today. That said, there are specialized hardware units capable of performing the task of hundreds of computers for the sole purpose of mining on the Litecoin network.
Third, the big difference is the maximum coin supply. Bitcoin has a fixed maximum supply of 21 million BTC. Litecoin’s supply is also fixed but at 84 million. In essence, one may think one LTC is worth a quarter of a Bitcoin, but that is not the case. Litecoin has a much lower value than Bitcoin, despite borrowing many elements from the world’s leading cryptocurrency.
An Exciting Launch
The launch of Litecoin had a lot of people excited. Being able to mine a clone of Bitcoin without having to use dedicated mining hardware was applauded by many miners and other enthusiasts. All one needed was a personal computer or even a laptop to begin generating LTC. The launch occurred during a time where altcoins were virtually non-existent. Cryptocurrency users met any new currency with some skepticism but primarily enthusiasm.
Moreover, the fact that Litecoin is a project by Charlie Lee – a former Google employee – brought a lot of credibility to this fork of Bitcoin. After Lee dedicated himself to Litecoin full-time and other developers joined the circle, Litecoin eventually began taking off and gaining momentum. It still holds that appeal today to many community members.
A Valuable Sandbox
Although Litecoin is its own currency in every possible way, there are some interesting aspects to consider. Many people see Litecoin as a developers’ sandbox for features they eventually want to implement in Bitcoin. Bringing any chances to Bitcoin’s protocol always carries some risks, even after the technology has gone through a thorough peer review on the testnet.
Instead, the developers now often let the Litecoin team implement these changes – including Segregated Witness and the Lightning Network – on their network first. As both ecosystems have a very similar codebase, there is no need for much tweaking. This approach has allowed Litecoin to activate both SegWit and the Lightning Network well ahead of Bitcoin, giving it a slightly competitive edge in this regard.
The same concept applies to experimenting with atomic swaps. Rather than using an exchange to transfer value between different blockchains, atomic swaps allow for a direct conversion of assets. Litecoin and Decred proved successfully swapped, as did Litecoin and Bitcoin. It is unclear if developers will add other currencies in the future, yet it seems like a possible outcome.
Numerous Litecoin Forks
As is courtesy in the cryptocurrency industry, good projects get forked. Litecoin is a fork of Bitcoin, allowing it to borrow certain elements of its code. This is also why the crucial Bitcoin network upgrades have been activated on Litecoin, as they share a lot of code. Forking a project is not illegal or wrong, as long as new developers can contribute something different to the existing code.
Several notable Litecoin forks exist, even though not every project has proven to be successful.
Perhaps the most successful fork of Litecoin to date. Initially, Dash was supposed to be the next-generation privacy coin, as all public cryptocurrencies lack privacy and anonymity. Although Dash provided some privacy-oriented features, the team eventually shifted its focus to faster and cheaper payments. The currency has made inroads across different sectors, especially after it rebranded from Darkcoin to Dash.
Unlike Litecoin, Dash opts to use masternodes to perform specific network features. To create such a node, users need to lock up a steep amount of DASH in a wallet and have it connected to the internet at all times. Very few currencies use a masternode system and succeed, yet DASH has done so successfully. Moreover, the project has many prominent partnerships and is listed on Vaultoro as one of the select few currencies to trade.
Although not many may be familiar with Einsteinium, it is one of the older altcoins still on the market today. Of the thousands of projects that have come and gone, Einsteinium has successfully managed to stick around. At one point, it even made the cryptocurrency market cap top 50 but saw its price retrace ever since. For a project initially started in 2014, it took a few years until Einsteinium gained any traction.
Einsteinium wants to function as a fundraising platform for charity and scientific research. Its current roadmap indicates there is still a lot of development going on behind the scenes.
There was a time when everyone was over the moon about Feathercoin. It was a new cryptocurrency when altcoins were rare, ensuring it received a lot of initial support. By being a Litecoin fork, mining FTC proved easy and straightforward, allowing many users to reap the benefits. It uses a different mining algorithm, called NeoScrypto, allowing its mining difficulty to adjust after every network block. Unfortunately, the network suffered from a 51% attack in June of 2013. Today, the project no longer plays any role of importance.
Monacoin is one of the more unusual altcoins on the market. It is a project that seems shrouded in mystery and tends to be incredibly popular in Japan and other Asian countries. Initially established in January of 2014 as a Litecoin fork, it aimed to become a national cryptocurrency payment system in Japan. That lofty goal proved to be a bit much, yet the currency still has a loyal following in the country.
Despite reaching the cryptocurrency market cap top 20 at one point, things have turned around spectacularly. Today, it is still possible to use MONA for digital assets – including coupons, electronics, and other items- as well as tipping online game streamers.
Similar to Bitcoin having a Bitcoin Cash fork, Litecoin has Litecoin Cash. Developers initially distributed the currency to all Litecoin holders, who receive 10 LTCC per LTC in their wallet. Despite the name, there is no correlation between Litecoin and Litecoin Cash. The developers merely “borrowed” part of the project’s name to make it seem more appealing.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as if Litecoin Cash ever amounted to anything. It is still in circulation but has lost virtually all appeal. Considering how LTC holders had to import their Litecoin private key into a Litecoin Cash wallet to claim the free tokens did not offer much credibility either.
The “Arise Chickun” Meme
To onlookers, the “Arise Chickun” meme might not make much sense. It is an inside joke among LTC enthusiasts. It refers to a scene from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a cartoon on Adult Swim. In that cartoon, there is a robot-chicken which somehow got associated with Litecoin.
The robot-chicken was eventually resurrected in the series, and traders on the former BTC-e exchange started using it every time the Litecoin price began moving up mysteriously. A bit of a “sick” joke among cryptocurrency users, as Litecoin’s momentum always seems to peter out and then return out of the blue.
The Charlie Lee Controversy
It is not uncommon for cryptocurrency developers to make money off their creation. Charlie Lee sold his Litecoin holdings in 2017 at a time when LTC peaked at nearly $350. It was an opportune time to do so, as Litecoin has not seen such a high value ever since. However, when a developer seemingly purposefully waits to dump when the market is moving up, there will be some controversy.
Initially, the community was not too amused by Lee’s move, which is only normal. That sentiment eventually turned into abuse and hate, although the situation rectified itself relatively quickly. Those who initially assumed that Charlie Lee no longer had faith in Litecoin soon realized he sold his LTC holdings to no longer be financially involved in his ecosystem leaving him to focus on development without a conflict of interest. Whether this makes it a good move is a different matter, but it seems the hostility is no longer present. We at Vaultoro think that people should be able to sell whatever or whenever they want. It’s a cornerstone of freedom. Charlie has stuck to his word and continues to develop litecoin.
It seems unlikely that Litecoin will disappear into obscurity, unlike some other alternative currencies that saw the light of day in the same year. For Litecoin, the next topic on the agenda is MimbleWimble via Extension Blocks, which is expected to go live in March 2021.
Additionally, Taproot may make its way to Litecoin as well. The vast majority of Bitcoin’s upgrades and changes activate on Litecoin’s network first, and Taproot may not be an exception. Beyond that, there doesn’t appear to be anything specific other than releasing a new version of the Litecoin Core desktop client. There is little point in fixing something that isn’t broken, and Litecoin works rather well the way it is today.