What is Litecoin?

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Litecoin is a peer to peer cryptocurrency and open source software project

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Litecoin was released via an open source client on GitHub on October 7, 2011 by Charlie Lee, a former Google employee.

It was a fork of the Bitcoin Core client, differing primarily by having a decreased block generation time (2.5 minutes), increased maximum number of coins, different hashing algorithm  and a slightly modified GUI 

During the month of November 2013, the aggregate value of Litecoin experienced massive growth which included a 100% leap within 24 hours.

Litecoin reached a $1 billion market cap in November 2013.  As of May 9, 2017, its market capitalization was US$1,542,657,077 at around $30 per coin.

In May 2017, Litecoin became the first of the top-5 (by market cap) cryptocurrencies to adopt Segregated Witness. Later in May of the same year, the first Lightining Network transaction was completed through litecoin, transferring 0.00000001 LTC from Zurich to San Francisco in under one second.

Litecoin has some technical improvements over Bitcoin, and most other major cryptocurrencies, such as the adoption of Segregated Witness and the Lightning Network. These effectively allow a greater amount of transactions to be processed by the network in a given time, reducing potential bottlenecks, as seen with Bitcoin.

Litecoin also has almost zero payment cost and facilitates payments approximately four times faster than Bitcoin

The main differences between Litecoin and Bitcoin.

The main difference is that Litecoin can confirm transactions must faster than Bitcoin. The implications of that are as follows:

  • Litecoin can handle a higher volume of transactions thanks to its faster block generation. If bitcoin were to try to match this, it would require significant updates to the code that everyone on the bitcoin network is currently running.
  • The disadvantage of this higher volume of blocks is that the litecoin blockchain will be proportionately larger than bitcoin’s, with more orphaned blocks.
  • The faster block time of litecoin reduces the risk of double spending attacks – this is theoretical in the case of both networks having the same hashing power.
  • A merchant who waited for a minimum of two confirmations would only need to wait five minutes, whereas they would have to wait 10 minutes for just one confirmation with bitcoin.
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Linda Roberts is a journalist with over 26 years experience in the newspaper business. She is currently the executive editor of the Wales Express website.