As of this writing, there are over 1,300 different cryptocurrencies in mainstream circulation, and the number is growing all the time. As the market gets larger, it can become harder for potential investors to distinguish between the different currencies and tokens available to them. In many cases, investors are aware of the biggest names – bitcoin, ethereum, ripple – but their interest level and awareness falls dramatically beyond those top performers.

In a recent profile, Hacked.com suggests there is at least one other cryptocurrency name that is worth noting: litecoin may be one of the more underrated altcoins at this time.

Growing in Prominence, But What Is it?

Litecoin has actually done quite well in recent years. (See more: Is Litecoin The Future of Cryptocurrency?) As of January 4, 2018, it is the 8th largest digital currency in the world, with a market cap of nearly $13 billion.

And yet, in spite of its growing popularity, some speculators believe litecoin has yet to reach its full potential as an alternative to bitcoin and other digital currencies. Perhaps some of the reason for this is that "many investors are still unsure what it is or how it differentiates itself" from its bigger brothers, according to Hacked.com.

Litecoin is noteworthy because it emerged as a fork from bitcoin. It is modeled after bitcoin but is designed to improve upon some of the largest cryptocurrency's features. (See more: Could Litecoin Be a Better Investment Than Bitcoin?) For example, the coin limit for litecoin is four times the size of bitcoin: 84 million versus 21 million.

Litecoin was designed to make transactions faster and easier; it takes about a quarter of the time to generate a litecoin block as it does one for the leading digital currency. The reason for this goes back to the underlying code of litecoin and the fact that it uses an algorithm pioneered by bitcoin but improved upon for its own purposes.

Improved Transactions

As litecoin blocks are created more efficiently – meaning that transactions can be processed more quickly – some analysts expect that a higher volume of transactions means that security risks for litecoin will be far lower than for other digital currencies. This could just be another added benefit to this up-and-coming altcoin.

While it's impossible to determine what will happen with the digital currency space on an individual level or even more broadly, there are reasons to keep litecoin on the radar going forward.

Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns cryptocurrency.

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