Cryptocurrencies remain topical as Litecoin has taken center stage, leaving Bitcoin vying for attention. While investors are cautiously monitoring Bitcoin’s fundamental scalability issues, those in the know are hedging their bets into up-and-coming cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin, which has increased over 200 percent in less than five days.
We are all chomping at the bit — that much is for sure. But what makes Litecoin an obvious investment alternative to Bitcoin, increasingly known as the ‘marmite of cryptocurrencies’?
For one, Bitcoin’s energy consumption per year is currently estimated at over 30 TWh. To put this into perspective, this is more than Denmark’s total energy consumption per year and is currently around 10 percent of the United Kingdom’s annual energy consumption. This number is increasing rapidly, overtaking other countries at a phenomenal pace. Not only is this uneconomical, it is also damaging the environment at an alarming rate.
It is only a matter of time before global regulators and governments are going to impose restrictions on the energy consumption miners use to operate the Bitcoin blockchain. But the risk of government intervention aside, the Bitcoin network is experiencing several other scalability issues.
The overwhelming popularity of Bitcoin has led to around 400,000 transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain each day, causing transaction speeds to plummet and fees to soar. It now takes one hour to clear a transaction, with fees for each transaction peaking at around $30. Bitcoin’s advantage as electronic cash is providing significantly less value than traditional banking methods.
In addition, the transaction volume that can be validated each day is limited to around 288,000 due to Bitcoin transactions being compiled into blocks of data that have severe limitations. Each block is limited to 1 MB of data while each transaction is around 500 bytes. That means around 2,000 transactions per block can be validated, but a single block is only generated every 10 minutes. The capability of the network is in a downward spiral as the increasing number of transactions not only delays the settlement of transactions but also leads to an increase in associated fees. This greatly diminishes one of the fundamental objectives of Bitcoin, which is to remove the cost of mediation.
Bitcoin’s founder, known only as Satoshi Nakamoto, has decided to remain anonymous. The problem with the anonymity is that it has led to various different perceptions of Bitcoin. On the one hand, many believe it to be a currency and want to change the coding to address the scalability issues. On the other hand, many believe Bitcoin to be a store of value and do not wish to change the original language. Without a majority consensus, the coding cannot be changed, and therefore, cannot address the scalability issues to becoming a widely adopted digital currency.
In contrast to Bitcoin, the founder of Litecoin, Charlie Lee, expresses his vision of Litecoin as being “the payment method of choice” and focuses on speed and scalability to achieve this. Litecoin’s purpose as a digital currency is clear, and there’s a designated leader behind the project.
While the block size of Litecoin’s network remains the same size as Bitcoin’s, the time taken to generate a block is only 2.5 minutes. This increases transaction speeds by 300 percent, and Litecoin’s blockchain is more than capable of verifying over 1 million transactions per day without network delays.
As with Bitcoin, Litecoin uses transactional verification algorithms that require computing power to verify. The key differentiator is that Litecoin’s algorithms are significantly easier than Bitcoins and therefore require less computing power to solve. This mitigates the environmental impact that Bitcoin faces. This also opens the opportunity for a more distributed mining pool as the processing power required is much lower than Bitcoin’s.
The final consideration investors need to take is that Bitcoin’s market cap is currently 18 times higher than Litecoin’s. If just 10 percent of Bitcoin’s market cap was shifted towards Litecoin, Litecoin’s price would increase by almost 200 percent. On this basis, the potential return on investment is far higher for Litecoin than Bitcoin.
Overall, Litecoin is quicker, cheaper and far more scalable than Bitcoin, and it’s definitely a coin to look out for in 2018.
Author: DEVIN MILSOM