Litecoin (LTC) is a cryptocurrency designed for instant transactions with near-zero cost. It runs on open-source software designed by a community of Litecoin developers and launched in 2011 as an “altcoin,” or alternative to Bitcoin based on some changes to Bitcoin’s original code.
To help you decide if Litecoin is right for your cryptocurrency portfolio or trading strategy, here’s a look at the history of Litecoin, how it works, and how to buy it.
What Is Litecoin?
Litecoin launched in 2011 as a decentralized currency by a former Google employee named Charlie Lee.
Litecoin is a fork of Bitcoin, which means it is based on the same software with some updates and changes. In the case of Litecoin, the updates allow transactions to take place near-instantly with much lower network fees than you would pay with Bitcoin.
Litecoin is community supported by volunteers who work to update the open-source code that runs the Litecoin network. Just like Bitcoin, Litecoin uses blockchain technology that makes transactions secure.
Transactions on the Litecoin network are tracked by miners, which are processing computers that can earn Litecoin for doing the processing work behind the scenes. Based on the current configuration, there will be a maximum of 84 million litecoins created before the network stops issuing new coins.
Special Features of Litecoin
Because it is a fork of Bitcoin, Litecoin works just like its older and bigger sibling in most ways. But the special features that set it apart make it a lighter alternative to Bitcoin, hence the name Litecoin.
Litecoin is run by a dedicated group of developers who coordinate on social media and Github, a coding platform. Because it is open source, you could make a copy of Litecoin for free and make changes to the code to use for applications or even launch your own lightweight cryptocurrency if you wanted to. But for the vast majority of people, sticking with existing cryptocurrencies is the best way to go.
|Already Mined / Total Supply (as of July 26, 2021)||66.75 million LTC / 84 million LTC|
|Special Feature||Near-instant transaction times and extremely low network fees|
Litecoin vs. Bitcoin
The proponents of Litecoin say that it was created to complement Bitcoin, not as a substitute for it. However, they do claim that Litecoin has some advantages over Bitcoin.
|Liquidity and supply||Maximum supply of Litecoin is 84 million LTC||Maximum supply of Bitcoin is 21 million BTC|
|Block time||One Litecoin block is generated every 2.5 minutes||One Bitcoin block is generated every 10 minutes|
|Technology adoption||Litecoin architecture allows quicker technology adoption||Bitcoin was at least three months behind Litecoin in implementing a certain technology upgrade|
How To Mine Litecoin
If you want to get Litecoin for “free,” your best bet is to become a Litecoin miner. Litecoin mining is a process where your computer works to verify transactions on the network. If you or the pool of computers you’re working with are the fastest to verify, you are awarded Litecoin. This is how cryptocurrency mining works with most digital currencies.
Total Supply of Litecoin
The maximum supply of Litecoin is 84 million coins. As of July 2021, over 66 million coins have been mined. That leaves about 20% of the total supply remaining to be mined.
Rewards for Mining and Halving
As of July 2021, Litecoin miners are awarded 12.5 new LTC per block verified. That number is halved every 840,000 blocks, which happens around every four years. This is higher compared to Bitcoin, where miners are awarded 6.25 new BTC for each block generated.
Litecoin mining rewards were halved for the first time in 2019, with the next halving expected in 2023.
How To Buy Litecoin
As a popular cryptocurrency, Litecoin is widely available and supported by the greater cryptocurrency community. If you’ve ever bought Bitcoin, it’s a virtually identical process, but you’ll want to look for the symbol LTC in your trading app rather than BTC for Bitcoin.
Major cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase, eToro, and BlockFi support Litecoin transactions.
Litecoin is supported by many different wallets. Here are the options you could choose from.
|Wallet Type||Wallet Name|
|Hardware Wallets||CoolWallet S, Opendime, Ledger Nano S, Trezor, ELLIPAL, BitBox|
|Mobile/Web-Based Wallets||Litewallet, Litecoin Core, Electrum-LTC, Liteaddress, Jaxx, Exodus, Crypto.com|
|Interest-Bearing Wallet||Celsius Network|
While the Litecoin network boasts of near-instant transaction confirmations, if you transact LTC on a cryptocurrency exchange it would take a little longer for it to reflect in your account. For example, both Kraken and Gemini require 12 confirmations for LTC transactions, which takes about 30 minutes.
Other Ways To Invest in Litecoin
If you don’t want to hold Litecoin directly, you may still be able to invest. Grayscale offers ETF-like trusts for cryptocurrencies such as the Grayscale Litecoin Trust.
The Grayscale Litecoin Trust has a minimum required investment of $25,000 and charges a 2.5% annual fee.