Litecoin
Official Litecoin logo
Denominations
PluralLitecoins
SymbolŁ
Ticker symbolLTC
Precision10−8
Subunits
11000millilitecoin, mŁ
11000000microlitecoins, photons, μŁ
Development
Original author(s)Charlie Lee
Initial release0.1.0 / 7 October 2011; 9 years ago (2011-10-07)
Latest release0.18.1[1] / 11 June 2020; 11 months ago (2020-06-11)
Code repositorygithub.com/litecoin-project/litecoin
Development statusActive
Project fork ofBitcoin
Written inC++
Operating systemWindows, OS X, Linux, Android
Developer(s)Litecoin Core Development Team
Source modelOpen source
LicenseMIT License
Website[1] litecoin.org litecoin.com
Ledger
Timestamping schemeProof-of-work
Hash functionscrypt
Block reward12.5 LTC (approximately till August 2023), halved approximately every four years
Block time2.5 minutes
Block explorerltc.bitaps.com explorer.litecoin.net chainz.cryptoid.info blockchair.com
Circulating supply66,752,415 LTC (3 May 2021)
Supply limit84,000,000 LTC

Litecoin (LTC or Ł) is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency and open-source software project released under the MIT/X11 license. Litecoin is one of the longest-standing crytocurrencies, having been launched in October 2011 and having zero percent downtime since its inception. Technically speaking, Litecoin is nearly identical to Bitcoin. Due to these similarities, Litecoin is often referred to as the "silver" to Bitcoin's "gold". 

Litecoin was created with the intention of being a fairer alternative to other cryptocurrencies that existed at the time, such as Tenebrix, Ixcoin and Solidcoin. In 2011, much as we see today, the cryptocurrency space began to see an influx of experimental coins appear. Many of these coins carried issues with them such as coin creators pre-mining millions of coins for themselves, security issues or bugs in the code which led to their rapid demise.

Due to these limiting factors, Litecoin creator Charlie Lee decided to launch it fairly by making it equally available to everyone from the beginning, slightly differing from other coins. The launch date was announced in advance, allowing people to prepare themselves to start mining it from day one.

History

Litecoin was released via an open-source client on GitHub on October 7, 2011 by MIT-alumni Charlie Lee, a former Google employee and ex-Director of Engineering at Coinbase. The Litecoin network went live on October 13, 2011.

Litecoin is a source code 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 (Scrypt, instead of SHA-256), and a slightly modified GUI.

At the time of the launch in 2011, Bitcoin had only existed for a little over a year but had proven itself to be reliable and well-functioning within that time frame. Knowing that Bitcoin had the most proven track record, Charlie Lee decided to base Litecoin off of Bitcoin's code.  During the month of November 2013, the aggregate value of Litecoin experienced massive growth which included a 100% leap within 24 hours.

In 2014, Dogecoin, a scrypt-based meme-cryptocurrency created by Jackson Palmer, was experiencing increased risk of becoming 51% attacked due to Litecoin dominating the Scrypt algorithm. Because of this, the Dogecoin community accepted Charlie Lee's advice of hardforking, allowing Litecoin and Dogecoin to be mined together (merge mined). Litecoin, being the Scrypt-dominant coin, now contributed to help secure Dogecoin's network

In May 2017, Litecoin played a major role in the Bitcoin block-size wars by becoming the first cryptocurrency in the top 10 by market capitalization to integrate Segregated Witness (SegWit), helping pave the path for Bitcoin to launch it as well. Later that month, the first Lightning Network transaction was completed through Litecoin, transferring 0.00000001 LTC from Zürich to San Francisco in under one second.

In 2018–19, the Litecoin community underwent a major #PayWithLitecoin campaign, resulting in Litecoin becoming the official cryptocurrency of the Miami Dolphins, making it the first-ever crypto sponsor of an NFL team, and also the first official sponsor of the UFC

On October 2018, a Litecoin Improvement Proposal (LIP) was announced by contributors, suggesting that Mimblewimble Extension Blocks (MWEB) would be the best way forward towards increasing fungibility, privacy and scaling on Litecoin. 

On March 2021, Mimblewimble expert David Burkett announced that he completed the MWEB code and that it's currently undergoing final reviewal and auditing prior to launch. It's estimated that MWEB will launch on Litecoin towards the end of 2021 with support of the community. 

Litecoin also became one of the four cryptocurrencies adopted by Venmo and parent company PayPal in 2021.

Uses, Technology, and Differences from Bitcoin

There are a few key differences between Litecoin and Bitcoin.

—The Litecoin Network processes a block every 2.5 minutes, rather than Bitcoin's 10 minutes. This allows Litecoin to confirm transactions much faster than Bitcoin.

—Litecoin uses Scrypt in its proof-of-work algorithm, compared to Bitcoin's SHA-256. This makes Litecoin more secure and less prone to being 51% attacked compared to other coins that share Bitcoin's mining algorithm. 

—Litecoin has 84 million coins while Bitcoin has 21 million. 

Litecoin maintains most of Bitcoin's key features, including 4 year halving cycles in which the amount of new coins gets reduced in half and a limited coin supply.

Due to Litecoin and Bitcoin's code similarities, it's common for updates to be be passed from one coin to the other. Most of Litecoin's code is pulled over from Bitcoin, meaning, Bitcoin developers are indirectly working on Litecoin. Because of this, Litecoin does not require a significant amount of core developers. 

Litecoin has become known for being a payments and transaction-friendly coin due to its low fees and high liquidity, being available on nearly every exchange. Litecoin is also the second most available cryptocurrency on crypto-ATM's. Due to its low fees and liquidity, Litecoin is often used for inter-exchange trading and for sending funds from one location to another. 

Because of its low fees and high liquidity, Litecoin usually ranks top 3 in 24 hour trading volume, occasionally trading more than its entire market cap. It also consistently trades more volume (in relation to respective market caps, by % basis) than Bitcoin and Ethereum. This transaction-heavy use-case is also what led the Litecoin community to focus on increasing user privacy. 

Litecoin's MWEB upgrade will make Litecoin the most fungible cryptocurrency in the top 10 by market capitalization while increasing scalability and hiding transaction amounts from public viewers. 

Litecoin is often referred to as a "test-bed" for Bitcoin because it has historically been able to implement certain technologies prior to Bitcoin, such as SegWit in 2017 and potentially once again with the upcoming MWEB upgrade. 

Litecoin is also the only coin besides Bitcoin to have an actively running Lightning Network, a second-layer scaling solution.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Litecoin v0.18.1". litecoin.org. Retrieved 2020-10-08.