Created as one of the first imitators of bitcoin after its initial release in 2009, Litecoin was largely ignored as a clone, and accordingly stayed in the single-digits in terms of fiat value. For years, Litecoin lounged in bitcoin’s shadow, serving as a slightly different version of its more popular peer cryptocurrency. However, as bitcoin grew to fantastic heights, Litecoin has tagged along for the ride and become an enormously well-supported cryptocurrency on its own merit.

During the latest and most impressive boom at the tail end of 2017, bitcoin tripled its value in a matter of months, sparking a speculative phenomenon that is still the talk of the financial sector. In accordance with its usual second-string position, Litecoin markets were relatively quiet during this time, but suddenly usurped bitcoin’s gains in a matter of days.

Rising from under $100 to almost $400, Litecoin has earned the crown of "biggest gains” in 2017. There are many reasons why this happened, each with their own potential. In all likeliness, they each contributed their own momentum to the trend.

1. Piggybacking on Bitcoin

Increasing support for bitcoin in retail and institutional investment circles was the impetus the coin needed to drive speculation and higher relative fiat values. CME, CBOE, and Nasdaq alongside other public and private investment firms, exchanges, and brokers announced their intention to bring bitcoin to the mainstream, and the first futures contracts have already hit the market. This was an unmistakably enormous step for cryptocurrency and illustrated to the young community that their passion was on its way to legitimacy.

Though there are no published plans to incorporate Litecoin into the official futures or options market, the incoming tide of Wall Street money drove speculation in the weeks and months before it hit, with a tide that lifted all boats, not just bitcoin.

2. An Outlet for Bitcoin’s Frustration

As bitcoin ballooned in value, new volume exposed some of the biggest cracks in its armor. The scaling debate took center stage once more as so many cryptocurrency newcomers were dismayed to learn of bitcoin’s troublesome network congestion. High fees and multiple-day transaction confirmations were the norm during this influx of new investors, helping to highlight the comparative benefits of more streamlined, yet accessible, cryptocurrencies like Litecoin.

"While transactions take an average of 300 minutes or even more with bitcoin, it takes only 2-3 minutes with Litecoin. I cannot stress the importance of flash transaction rates enough. Inept transaction rates could practically ‘kill’ digital currencies, and this is something we knew we would need to happen very fast within our network," says Alex Lubinsky, the CEO of Rentberry, a blockchain-driven platform that facilitates the long-term rental process for both tenants and landlords.

Lubinsky concludes: "Another reason to Litecoin's rise is related to the investor side as bitcoin holders had a very bullish month and the smart move for them right now is to diversify their portfolio and avoid losses when the market will eventually correct itself. Bitcoin might be the crypto king, but it has lots of worthy rivals that are closing the distance."

Thanks to smaller blocks and other savvy algorithmic alterations, Litecoin traders don’t have to wait long for a trade verification and aren’t saddled with prohibitive fees. Once the majority caught on, Litecoin’s status as relatively undervalued in terms of its capabilities was quickly realized and remedied.

3. Increasing Media Coverage

During the months when bitcoin was seemingly achieving a new milestone daily, it got lots of media attention from financial pundits, social networks, and more. However, variety is the spice of evening cable, and in Litecoin, news outlets found their new darling. Like the stellar rise of Ethereum earlier in the year, Litecoin increasingly gained more coverage relative to its price climb.

Founder Charlie Lee put his creation in the spotlight on programs such as CNBC’s Squawk Box, where he extolled the virtues of bitcoin, but also mentioned how Litecoin differs. Since the initial rise, financial news channels have almost unanimously included an LTC ticker in the animated frames that also include stocks, bitcoin, and other noteworthy assets.

4. Fear

One of the most powerful emotions to the human psyche is the fear of missing out (FOMO). It hurts to witness an investment lose money, but ask any cryptocurrency trader, and they’ll tell you that it’s nothing in comparison to watching a coin skyrocket after selling it (or failing to buy it while it was cheap).

Uninitiated traders who didn’t get verified by their exchange in time missed out on bitcoin’s stellar rise, but Litecoin was deemed the perfect way to get their comeuppance. The masses of inexperienced traders saw Litecoin’s comparatively low price beside bitcoin’s and decided to pump it to achieve the gains they previously missed.

5. Lightning Network

A crucial cryptocurrency invention is nearing release, and as more news about it is published, people realize the importance that Litecoin has in the future of this industry. While Litecoin is already leagues ahead of bitcoin in terms of speed, its early adoption of SegWit (it was the first cryptocurrency to integrate it) means that it is already prepared to connect to off-layer storage and processing solutions once they’re available.

The likeliest for initial release is the Lightning Network, a system that runs parallel with the blockchain to offload much of the network’s stress and accelerate operations significantly. Recent tests have proven the Lightning Network’s capability to make transactions virtually free and instantaneous. Many believe that it will be the development that cryptocurrency needs to go mainstream, and it’s coming to Litecoin first.

Litecoin Has Momentum

There are several reasons to believe that Litecoin is still in the early stages of growth. It offers a better compromise than bitcoin, serving as both an asset for speculation but also as a faster currency solution. In addition, it’s taking the initiative to solve the scaling problem present in almost every other cryptocurrency, a battle that is on the cusp of victory.

Finally, it is gaining more mainstream acceptance and benefiting from growing social momentum. These reasons and more may propel Litecoin even further than it’s already gone as adoption increases. (See also: Is Litecoin The Future of Cryptocurrency?)

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