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While mainstream media attention has been focused on Bitcoin’s spectacular price rises, performance in altcoins is being overlooked. Litecoin, billed as a cryptocurrency silver to Bitcoin’s gold, has been setting its own records, rising from $85.91 on the 27th November to over $102.21 on the 29th. Indeed, in year-on-year percentage terms Litecoin has actually outperformed Bitcoin, up 2541% to Bitcoin’s 1406%.

Normally altcoins increase in value when Bitcoin subsides, but recently they have been doing well even through Bitcoin’s historic ascent. Litecoin has been an especially strong performer, as it does not compete with Bitcoin so much as complement it.   

Litecoin and the Lightning Network

Litecoin was created by Charlie Lee in 2011 using much of the Bitcoin codebase. Its benefit comes from its faster block generation, allowing it to cope with greater transaction volume and reducing the time taken to settle a transaction from 10 to 5 minutes. However, Lee views his creation as very much part of the Bitcoin universe. Both currencies have adopted SegWit, a soft fork change in Bitcoin’s transaction format, which is enabling the creation of the Lightning Network. This network will allow the instant exchange of Bitcoin and Litecoin while bypassing all exchanges, potentially reducing the load on the the Bitcoin blockchain. Lee describes the relationship between the two currencies as being like two highways.

Today, Bitcoin is packed full of cars and Litecoin is empty. Even with bitcoin packed, the cars are not coming to use the Litecoin highway today because it’s not connected and it’s inconvenient (centralized exchanges and slow on-chain transfers) to go across. LN will build bridges over the highways. But a side benefit is that these bridges will connect both highways together.

These atomic swaps are not yet available though they have been tested. Expected next year they are set to further disrupt the industry and provide a huge opportunity for Litecoin. Consumers will be able to store their wealth in Bitcoin and spend it in Litecoin. Rather than as a Bitcoin alternative, Litecoin can be seen as its complement. Instead of competing for the same business they are growing together.

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