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Refreshing in: 60s | Sun, Nov 29, 01:57PM GMT
2017 was a busy year for Litecoin (LTC). In the year to 24 December 2017, LTC saw a 9,000% increase in price. Hovering at around the US$4 mark until April of that year, LTC then saw its price increase significantly, peaking at US$375 on 19 December 2017.
Litecoin was created in 2011 by former Google employee Charlie Lee, and he has led the LTC development community ever since. On 20 December 2017, Lee shocked the cryptocurrency world when he announced the sale of his LTC holdings on a popular cryptocurrency forum. Not only did this cause worry with those who owned LTC, but it also came just a day after LTC’s all-time high.
Despite Litecoin’s founder selling his stake, the cryptocurrency’s development has been managed quite successfully. The technology that supports LTC is very similar to bitcoin, but the developers made changes that allow LTC to achieve faster transaction speeds and reduced transaction costs. When using the best technology, transactions become almost instant anywhere in the world.
More efficient transactions have two effects on LTC’s price growth: mining the cryptocurrency becomes more profitable, which generates more efficient transaction speeds, and as transaction speeds increase and transaction costs are reduced, businesses and individuals have the ability to settle everyday transactions. This means that it’s easier to use LTC as the currency has become more widespread.
The better transaction speeds and lower transaction costs occurred alongside a very effective marketing campaign. These have all been major factors in LTC’s adoption into the world’s busiest cryptocurrency exchanges. In May 2017, Coinbase and Bithumb both announced their decision to list LTC on their exchanges. Being the two largest exchanges in the world, these events, more than any other, have driven the rise in the price of LTC.
LTC’s market capitalisation, market cap for short, is the strongest measure of LTC’s performance. Market cap is worked out by multiplying the total mined LTC by its price. LTC’s market cap has jumped from just over US$340 million on 1 April 2017, prior to its programming upgrades and major listing announcements, to as high as US$20 billion on 19 December 2017. That equals a 5,782% increase, which is a noteworthy figure considering 61,000 units, or three-quarters of total minable LTC, have already been mined.
Only a total of 84 million units of Litecoin can be mined into existence, which is 63 million units more than bitcoin’s 21 million minable units. The extra 63 million minable units of LTC was probably intended to give the cryptocurrency greater price stability. However, this was not the case and LTC began to experience greater price swings. This had to be expected in a cryptocurrency market that in 2017 saw the value of all cryptocurrencies increase from just under US$18 billion to over US$650 billion.
As well as upward pressure on price and market cap, there has also been pressure on transaction costs for LTC. This is a threat to the long-term prospects of LTC as a currency and as an investment tool. During the wild price swings the cryptocurrency market experienced from 8 December to 20 December 2017, LTC’s price increased by over US$220. Its transaction volume increased from an average of 20,000 transactions per day to as many as 160,000. The LTC community has never experienced this kind of pressure and it resulted in bottle-necked transactions. As the network struggled to process the transactions, transaction costs increased from US$0.094 to US$1.50 – an increase of 1,495%.
|Litecoin (LTC)||New Zealand Dollar (NZD)|
When Charlie Lee sold his entire LTC holdings at the end of December 2017, the resulting unexpected pressures were the first real test of LTC’s programming advances and the results are bound to worry its developers and its competitors. The effect on price stability and on transaction costs may mean that the hopes of LTC being a usable currency won’t come to fruition.
It’s important to keep an eye on how LTC handles these pressures. Mr Lee has defended his move by saying his intentions were to avoid a conflict of interest as he continues his leadership of the LTC development community.
The programming changes and effective marketing strategies secured LTC’s place as one of the most influential cryptocurrencies of 2017 and are a direct result of Mr Lee’s leadership. His leadership is also a factor that heavily influences LTC’s future investment potential. Mr. Lee has been the driving force behind LTC’s price gains. However, his decision to sell all his LTC seems oddly timed and his intentions for selling are anybody’s guess. Keeping Mr Lee’s excellent management skills in mind, it may be best to do as Mr Lee does and not as Mr Lee says.
Confidence in Litecoin, particularly moving past 2018, would be based purely on speculation. A potential buyer would be well advised to exercise a good deal of caution.
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