DEFINITION of 'Litecoin'

Launched in the year 2011, Litecoin is an alternative cryptocurrency based on the model of Bitcoin. Bitcoin was created by an MIT graduate and former Google engineer named Charlie Lee. Litecoin is based on an open source global payment network that is not controlled by any central authority. Litecoin differs from Bitcoins in aspects like faster block generation rate and use of scrypt as a proof of work scheme. 

'Litecoin'

Litecoins were launched with the aim of being the "silver" to Bitcoin's "gold," and have gained much popularity since the time of inception. Litecoin is a peer-to-peer internet currency. It is a fully decentralized open source, global payment network. Litecoin was developed with the aim to improve on Bitcoin's shortcomings, and has earned industry support along with high trade volume and liquidity over the years. The broader differences between the two cryptocurrencies are listed in the table below.

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Bitcoin

Litecoin

Creation

2009

2011

Creator

Satoshi Nakamoto

Charles Lee

Coin Limit

21 Million

84 Million

Block Generation Time

10 Minutes

2.5 Minutes

Algorithm

SHA-256

Scrypt

Initial Reward

50 BTC

50 LTC

Current Block Reward (as of June 2014)

25 BTC

50 LTC

Rewards

Halved every 210,000 blocks

Halved every 840,000 blocks

Difficulty Retarget

2016 Block

2016 Block

Litecoin is designed to produce four times as many blocks as Bitcoin (1 new block every 2.5 minutes to Bitcoin's 10), and it also allows for 4x the coin limit, making it's main appeal over Bitcoin to do with speed and ease of acquisition. However, because Litecoin uses scrypt (as opposed to Bitcoin's SHA-2) as a proof-of-work algorithm, the use of mining hardware such as ASIC miners or a GPU mining rig requires significantly more processing power.

Litecoin is consistently among the largest cryptocurrencies in terms of market capitalization (though still remaining far below that of Bitcoin) and it currently has more than 50 million coins in circulation. 

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