Litecoin (LTC) is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that was set up by Charlie Lee (a former Google employee) in 2011. It shares many similarities with bitcoin and is based on bitcoin’s original source code.
Litecoin was designed to be used for cheaper transactions, and to be more efficient for everyday use. In comparison, bitcoin was being used more as a store of value for long-term purposes. The coin limit market cap is much higher on litecoin than bitcoin, and the mining process far quicker. This means transactions are faster and cheaper, although generally smaller in size.
Like bitcoin, litecoin is a form of digital money. Utilising blockchain technology, litecoin can be used to transfer funds directly between individuals or businesses. This ensures that a public ledger of all transactions is recorded, and allows the currency to operate a decentralised payment system free from government control or censorship.
How does litecoin work?
Litecoin involves the creation and transfer of digital coins via an open source, cryptographic protocol. It uses blockchain technology to record a decentralised, public ledger of all transactions.
WHAT IS THE BLOCKCHAIN?
The blockchain is a shared digital ledger which holds a record of all litecoin transactions. Recent cryptocurrency transactions are grouped together into ‘blocks’ by miners. The blocks are then cryptographically secured before they get linked to the existing blockchain. Similar blockchain technology is used for a number of different cryptocurrencies, including litecoin and bitcoin.
WHAT IS MINING?
Mining is the process of securing each block to the existing blockchain using mining software. Once a block is secured, new units of cryptocurrency get released. Miners can inject these units directly back into the market.
What are the differences between litecoin and bitcoin?
While there are many similarities between bitcoin and litecoin, some of the subtle differences include:
While litecoin requires more sophisticated technology to mine than bitcoin, blocks are actually generated up to four times faster. Litecoin also processes financial transactions a lot quicker, and can also process a higher number of them over the same time period.
NUMBER OF COINS
Both bitcoin and litecoin have a finite number of coins in circulation. Bitcoin has 21 million coins available, while litecoin has 84 million available – four times more than bitcoin.
Litecoin has a much smaller market cap than bitcoin, but is still one of the most traded cryptocurrencies.
Miners must successfully solve hash functions in order to add new blocks of a cryptocurrency to the blockchain. Litecoin and bitcoin use different mining algorithms, with Scrypt being the hash function used for litecoin, and SHA-256 the hash function used for bitcoin. Scrypt was initially chosen by the litecoin development team to avoid mining being dominated by ASIC-based miners. This would allow CPU and GPU-based miners to compete. The Scrypt mining algorithm is more memory intensive, and this was initially less suited to ASIC miners, giving other miners more opportunity. However, Scrypt-capable ASIC-based miners have developed over time. This means CPU and GPU-based miners no longer have valid mining tools due to the inferior computational powers, and ASICs are able to generate far more hashes per second.
How to trade litecoin
When you buy litecoin on an exchange, the price of one litecoin is usually quoted against the US dollar (USD). In other words, you are selling USD in order to buy litecoin. If the price of litecoin rises you will be able to sell for a profit, because it is now worth more USD than when you bought it. If the price falls and you decide to sell, then you would make a loss.
With some brokers, you trade litecoin via a spread bet or contract for difference (CFD) account. This allows you to speculate on its price movements without owning the actual cryptocurrency. You aren’t taking ownership of litecoin. Instead, you’re opening a position which will increase or decrease in value depending on litecoin’s price movement against the dollar.