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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.
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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.
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.
A blockchain is the decentralised, public ledger or list of a cryptocurrency’s transactions. Completed blocks, comprised of the latest transactions, are recorded and added to the blockchain. They are stored in chronological order as an open, permanent and verifiable record. An ever evolving network of market participants manage blockchains, and they follow a set protocol for validating new blocks. Each ‘node’ or computer connected to the network automatically downloads a copy of the blockchain. This allows everyone to track transactions without the need for central record keeping.
Mining is the process of attaching new transaction records as blocks to the existing blockchain. Once a block is secured, new units of cryptocurrency known as ‘block rewards’ get credited to the miner. Miners can inject these units directly back into the market. Due to their crucial role in the process, miners can exert ownership of their bitcoin within the blockchain.
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.
Both bitcoin and litecoin have a finite number of coins in circulation. Bitcoin has 21 million coins available, while litecoin has a 84 million cap – four times higher than bitcoin.
Litecoin coins currently have a smaller value comparative to bitoin, 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.
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 CMC Markets, you can trade litecoin via a contract for difference (CFD) account. This allows you to take a position 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.
CFDs are leveraged products. This means you only need to deposit a percentage of the full value of a trade in order to open a position. You won’t have to tie up all your capital in one go by buying litecoin outright, but can instead use an initial deposit to get exposure to larger amounts. While leveraged trading allows you to magnify your returns, losses will also be magnified as they are based on the full value of the position.
Open a long or short position*
CFDs allow you to trade on both rising and falling prices. You don’t have to own litecoin in order to sell it (go short), which is not possible on cryptocurrency exchanges.
Efficient use of capital
Leveraged trading means you only deposit a percentage of the full value of a trade in order to open a position. With mainstream cryptocurrency exchanges, you would need to deposit the full value of the contract. Remember that both profits and losses will be magnified, and you could lose more than the amount you deposit to open a position.
No exchange account or wallet
Unlike trading the underlying litecoin, there is no need to open an exchange account or wallet to hold the litecoin you have bought. This means no waiting for approval from the exchange, no concerns about keeping your wallet secure, and no fees if you want to withdraw funds later.
Trade with an established provider
CMC Markets is a regulated provider. We have 29 years’ experience in the industry and offer support for all our clients whenever the markets are open.
Cryptocurrencies are not yet widely accepted today as a medium of exchange and can be extremely volatile. The outlook for cryptocurrencies is binary – it’s likely they’ll either fail or take over the world. This is some of the factors that drives the higher risk and higher potential reward nature of cryptocurrency market.
Litecoin’s volatility is likely to be driven by similar factors to bitcoin, for example:
*Please note we may, at our sole discretion, restrict your ability to go short.
Read the next articles in our cryptocurrencies series: