Priced out of the Bitcoin market? Look no further than Litecoin, an alternative cryptocurrency that’s gaining popularity fast.
When we first wrote about Bitcoin, back in May 2011, we asked whether the same forces that are changing the entertainment, media and communications industries could affect global financial institutions.
That vision has yet to come to pass in the two years since, but Bitcoin’s value has soared from $8 then to $100 at the time of writing.
Litecoin, an almost-identical cryptocurrency with a few small tweaks – it’s easier to generate, and there’s more of it. In this way, Business Insider calls it “the ‘silver’ to Bitcoin’s ‘gold’”.
To be more specific, while Bitcoin circulation is capped at 21 million, 84 million Litecoins will be generated. Plus, Litecoin transactions only take 2.5 minutes to process, whereas Bitcoins take up to ten minutes to complete.
The final difference is in security. Litecoin is orders of magnitude more secure than Bitcoin, due to its use of a cryptography technique called scrypt, which makes it very costly to attack due to the large amounts of memory involved.
Right now, Litecoin is still in an embryonic state compared to the Bitcoin ecosystem. It’s value is hovering around the $2 mark, and it’s not yet supported by the largest Bitcoin exchange, Mt.Gox (though the site has pledged to add support soon).
In the meantime, if you’d like to get stuck in, the best place to start is litecoin.org, where you can download the client for Windows, OS X and Linux.