Created by a former Google employee and later CTO of Coinbase, Charlie Lee, Litecoin was one of the first serious altcoin projects developed with an actual purpose. While Bitcoin was seen as “gold” and a potential long-term store of value, Litecoin was created to be “silver” and used for everyday purposes. So, on October 7th 2011, Litecoin (LTC) was released via an open-source client on GitHub. The Litecoin Network went live on October 13th 2011, and was essentially a fork of the Bitcoin Core client with a different set of parameters.
In spite of its close relationship with Bitcoin, there are some key differences between the two cryptocurrencies, and one could argue they clearly serve alternative purposes.
Due to Litecoin’s use of the Scrypt algorithm, FPGA and ASIC devices made for mining Litecoin are harder to produce, meaning there are less large-scale mining farms at play with Litecoin. They hope this approach will keep mining collusion at bay.
Purpose of Token
|Confirmation Time||Consensus Protocol|
|LTC, to be used as a cryptocurrency
for quick payments
Litecoin’s goal is to be the decentralised money of the internet – free of censorship, permissionless, and open to anyone who wishes to join. They aim to offer private, secure, borderless payments for pennies – anywhere, anytime, and fully controlled by LTC holders. Litcoin offers the following:
Currently, there is about 70% of the total LTC supply in circulation:
Litecoin uses a mining algorithm called Scrypt, which is more serialised than Bitcoin’s SHA-256. As such, parallelising mining calculations is not possible.
So, for example, let’s suppose we have two processes: A and B.
With Bitcoin, it will be possible for ASIC mining hardware to do A and B together at the same time by parallelising them. However, with Litecoin, you will need to do A and then B serially. If you try to parallelise them, the memory required becomes way too much too handle.
Scrypt is called a “memory-hard problem” since the main limiting factor isn’t the raw processing power but the memory. This is specifically the reason why parallelisation becomes an issue. Running 10 memory-hard processes in parallel requires 10 times more memory. Now, of course, there are devices available with tons of memory, and so normal people can compete on the Litecoin mining stage by buying simple day-to-day memory cards instead of super-specialised ASICs.
Scrypt has been deliberately designed to make sure that mining is accessible and democratised as much as possible. Recently, however, companies like Zeus and Flower Technology have managed to create Scrypt ASICs, which may, unfortunately, mean the demise of their dream of democratised mining. However, pound-for-pound, memory is way more expensive to produce than SHA-256 hashing chips, so bigger companies might just stick to mining Bitcoin.
Another major advantage of Litecoin is the faster block creation time. Since the time between blocks is so small, more and more miners get the opportunity to mine blocks and earn the mining rewards. What this means is that the mining rewards should theoretically be more well distributed with Litecoin and, by extension, it should be more decentralised.
In essence, Litecoin possesses Bitcoin’s features, but is “lighter” to carry and faster to transact. It’s founder, Charlie Lee, believes the goal and mission of Litecoin is to be a live testnet for Bitcoin, meaning that: