A year in the life of Litecoin LTC cryptocurrency

May 27, 2018
Chris Wheal

This time last year Litecoin could still be bought for under $30 and the company’s market capitalisation was stolidly settled around the $1.5bn mark. A year on, Litecoin is selling at around the $140 mark and the company’s market cap is in the $7bn-$8bn region.

Taking these figures in isolation Litecoin has had a successful year, with its price rising by more than 300%, but the ride has been far from smooth, with Litecoin bouncing along in the slipstream of Bitcoin as cryptocurrencies well and truly hit the mainstream.

Bumpy ride

By far the bumpiest time for Litecoin’s price was December 2017. Using CoinMarketCap.com’s figures, the currency opened the month at $88 and saw out the year at $232.10.

But in between these dates the price hit its all-time high of $375.29 on 19 December and trading on 11 and 12 December saw the price more than double from $148.66 at the close on 10 December to $316.16 two days later.

The same month also saw the currency’s peak market capitalisation, with it reaching $19.5bn on 19 December.

As well as US dollar transactions, Bitcoin and Tether are popular ways to purchase Litecoin. US-based Coinbase (GDAX) handles the largest volume of dollar transactions while China’s OKEx is the leader in Bitcoin and Tether pairs.

Litecoin and Bitcoin

Litecoin bounced along in Bitcoin’s slipstream: Shutterstock

Interest

Media interest in cryptocurrencies increased massively over the course of 2017. December saw two major exchanges CBOE and CME launch Bitcoin futures, sending Bitcoin’s price soaring to a peak of over $20,000.

Litecoin did well out of the general increase in media and public attention on altcoins. Its profile was further raised by its founder, Charlie Lee, popping up frequently to discuss the fortunes of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies.

When FOMO – the fear of missing out – really started to take hold, this increased profile and the fact that Litecoin was easy to obtain worked in its favour. People wanting to invest in cryptocurrency at this stage were likely not to be that techy but to be looking to join in with the next big thing.

Litecoin was one of only two alternatives to Bitcoin on Coinbase’s GDAX exchange: it was also somewhat cheaper than Bitcoin or the other Coinbase option, Etherium. And for those who had got in early on cryptocurrencies, Litecoin was a good option to diversify their holdings.

Sell off

But by the end of 2017 Charlie Lee, pretty much the face of Litecoin, was facing a bit of a backlash, with people saying that his social media promotion of the currency was causing a conflict of interest.

In December Lee decided to take action and sold all his Litecoins, apart from a few physical coins that he kept as souvenirs. On Reddit Lee said: “Please don’t ask me how many coins I sold or at what price. I can tell you that the amount of coins was a small percentage of GDAX’s daily volume and it did not crash the market.”

On his @SatoshiLite twitter account, in response to accusations that he sold at the all-time high, he added that he sold his holdings on three occasions, getting $96 on 8 December 2017, $155 on 11 December and $350 on 18 December.

Speed

As more people took notice of Litecoin they also saw that it wasn’t exactly the same as Bitcoin. Its use of Scrypt meant that it was quicker than the older currency to confirm transactions and it had been quick to add other technologies on to the blockchain.

In May 2017 Litecoin had been the first of the major cryptocurrencies to adopt Segregated Witness (SegWit) which increases block capacity by separating out transaction signatures.

This then led to the first Lightning Network transaction when Litecoin was transferred from Zurich to San Francisco in under a second.

LitePay

Litecoin looked to be advancing further in 2018 with the slated introduction of LitePay a merchant processing system that would have allowed widespread use of Litecoin as a payment method. The price of the currency rose steadily throughout February in anticipation.

But LitePay closed without ever opening and Litecoin’s price dropped markedly in March as a result. Litecoin put a brave face on the incident. Kenneth Yong of the Litecoin Foundation, which promotes the currency, said: “Litecoin was doing perfectly fine before the promise of LitePay and will continue to do so.”

Litecoin has since announced a tie up with Aliant Payment Systems for a payment acceptance system which could act as a replacement for LitePay. And it got a further boost when Abra announced that Litecoin would be its platform of choice for its smart contracts.

Project

As to what Litecoin’s next move will be, the Litecoin Foundation tweeted on 25 April: “Does your business accept #Litecoin? Message us for a chance to be included in a cool project we are working on!”

Litecoin accepted here sign

Litecoin wants more merchants to accept it: Shutterstock

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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