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What is Litecoin?
Litecoin (LTC or Ł) is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency and open source software project released under the MIT/X11 license. Creation and transfer of coins is based on an open source cryptographic protocol and is not managed by any central authority. While inspired by, and in most regards technically nearly identical to Bitcoin (BTC), 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 number 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.
Litecoin was released via an open-source client on GitHub on October 7, 2011 by Charlie Lee, a Google employee. The Litecoin network went live on October 13, 2011. 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 (scrypt, instead of SHA-256), 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 capitalization in November 2013.
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 Lightning Network transaction was completed through Litecoin, transferring 0.00000001 LTC from Zürich to San Francisco in under one second.
Differences from Bitcoin
Litecoin is different in some ways from Bitcoin.
The Litecoin Network aims to process a block every 2.5 minutes, rather than Bitcoin’s 10 minutes. The developers claim that this allows Litecoin to have faster transaction confirmation.
Litecoin uses scrypt in its proof-of-work algorithm, a sequential memory-hard function requiring asymptotically more memory than an algorithm which is not memory-hard.
Due to Litecoin’s use of the scrypt algorithm, FPGA and ASIC devices made for mining Litecoin are more complicated to create and more expensive to produce than they are for Bitcoin, which uses SHA-256.
Litecoin Main features
Heavily based on Bitcoin this coin is almost identical to it, although it has some key differences:
Instead of using SHA-256 algorithm for its proof-of-work like Bitcoin does, it uses Scrypt. This algorithm was originally designed to make it costly to perform large-scale custom hardware attacks by requiring large amounts of memory. This makes building ASIC designs for mining Litecoin rather expensive because of memory being the most high-cost component of such systems.
Thus Scrypt algorithm strips any FPGA, GPU and ASIC users of their advantage over CPU miners and as such is very suitable for the intended purpose of allowing an even distribution of Litecoin mining capacity between network users. Unfortunately with rising popularity of the currency now there are ASICs for Litecoin mining in development nevertheless.