We’re not the first media outlet to point out the state of cryptocurrency: there is growing unrest, uncertainty and frustration surrounding the entire industry. Despite the price drop/stagnation over the last three months, the industry is attempting to find its place as a technology that has promised innovation, but thus far has fallen short on delivering. This article by Hackernoon, in particular, summarizes the growing discontent with blockchain and crypto derived currencies.
The landscape for cryptocurrency beyond this year is clear: the emphasis has to switch from price speculation to usability and real-world application. Functionality should supersede profit-potential. There is more than enough money (460 billion USD) for developers and communities to come up with real world use-cases for the currency outside of tokens to be traded on exchange. We would be willing to bet that less than 1% of all cryptocurrency investors have ever used a coin for anything other than price exchanges. Not for commerce, not for smart contracts, just simple buy/sell orders for profit and loss.
That brings us to Litecoin. LTC has struggled to differentiate itself from Bitcoin for years, in part because of a cooperative and subservient marketing slant by founder Charlie Lee. But within the past two months, that narrative is beginning to change. More people are coming to recognize Litecoin as a cryptocurrency with real use. The fundamentals of the currency–transaction speeds, fees, and ability to scale through SegWit and Lightning Network–all outclass Bitcoin at this point. The easy way to describe Litecoin to someone unfamiliar with the currency is this: it’s like Bitcoin, but better. The parameters of what constitutes “better” can vary person to person, but in terms of what each currency is attempting to do (i.e. be a digital, decentralized form of money for transaction), Litecoin provides the superior technology. Scaling issues may come to haunt LTC as much as they have crippled Bitcoin’s network, but the currency has become synonymous with sending and receiving crypto. Most people, when sending Bitcoin from one exchange to another, convert to Litecoin first to capitalize on the cost savings and transaction speeds.
As we have pointed out before, both coins–despite being mirror images in potential use–have a role in the expanding cryptocurrency landscape. However, the shortcomings of Bitcoin are now becoming detrimental to the overall growth of cryptocurrency. Until the problems associated with scaling are solved, Litecoin provides a better alternative and has the culture and development team committed to top-notch utility as a transacting currency. While many have pointed out that Lightning Network on Bitcoin could make Litecoin irrelevant, that’s assuming the LTC community remains complacent–a feature that points to the opposite being true. Litecoin has been on the forefront of innovations in cryptocurrency, and will continue to pave the way as a transacting currency. People seem to forget that Litecoin has had SegWit longer (a feature that is still not universal for Bitcoin), and could also be the first to implement Lightning Network–or perhaps find some other innovative solution that has yet to be implemented. The stagnating landscape of cryptocurrency is going to necessitate the market funneling in the direction of utility and usability. Litecoin is already filling that need.
Adoption of LitePay
The backlash against LitePay has been confusing, for a number of reasons. While many would-be crypto merchants are excited for the advent of a dedicated, LTC processor, along with Litecoin holders looking to have a simple means for spending their currency, there is a faction of dissenters frustrated with LitePay. The argument is basically this: LitePay is just a currency converter that deals largely in fiat rather than strictly cryptocurrency. This pack of enthusiasts would rather the entire transaction took place in crypto–essentially a processor that simplifies the steps of sending LTC from your wallet to a merchant’s in the event of a transaction. It’s a silly argument and one that neglects the fact that you can’t force cryptocurrency onto other people. The very act of doing so is going to create push back from members of the general public to regulators looking for a reason to continue discouraging cryptocurrency.
While it’s an appreciated gesture to see food trucks, online shops and certain private sellers accepting cryptocurrency directly as a way to grow interest in the industry, it’s unfair to merchants to demand that the transaction occur in one dimension. You wouldn’t walk into a restaurant in the U.S. and demand they accept British Pounds because that’s your choice of currency. Cryptocurrency, while innovative and potentially revolutionary, is still a choice. We all have our reasons for investing in the currency–some for profit, some for politics, others for security–that may not align with the person, or company, on the other end of the transaction. That’s fine. Instead of forcing crypto onto others, adoption needs to happen organically, and through a strong bedrock of supporters who will not abandon crypto once price appreciation and profits begin to dry up.
LitePay is a step in the right direction. While the debit card has been delayed for now, it still serves as a two-way payment processor that allows both sides of the transaction equation to participate in cryptocurrency, whether independently or concurrently. You can imagine the potential marketing and growth opportunity this presents for Litecoin. Merchants using LitePay instantly become sources of advertisement for Litecoin. With the advent of the debit card, Litecoin spenders have a means for demonstrating to friends and colleagues a potential use for the cryptocurrency. Barring an outright hatred of crypto, there is little reason for an independent business owner not to use LitePay. It provides an immediate avenue for increased revenue, by tapping into the previously untouched consumer base of Litecoin. It also gives real cryptocurrency enthusiasts an opportunity to use their currency.
Erosion of Bitcoin Brand Name
Here’s what happens to a lot of people: they get into cryptocurrency and become enamored by the number of features offered to them, for the first time, outside of government fiat–lack of inflation, decentralization, no political backing or influence, total digital immersion, etc.–through the most well-known and popular currency, Bitcoin. From there people begin to branch out based upon interest. For those looking for profit and smart investments, the risk-reward of small market-cap currencies or undervalued coins becomes alluring. But for those still smitten by the technology and the possibility of cryptocurrency, whether for political, social or innovative reasons, Litecoin becomes a natural anchor. If you like Bitcoin, you like Litecoin. Litecoin is a fork of the original Bitcoin code, with changes to increase the utility of the currency. The biggest features have been the drastically reduced fees and faster confirmation times.
Even the allure surrounding mysterious Bitcoin-founder Satoshi Nakamoto is not that far off from the present state of Litecoin. The world may be intimately familiar with LTC founder Charlie Lee, but, much like Satoshi, he has completely removed himself from a financial stake in his project by selling his entire holding of Litecoin. This gives Litecoin a strong developer, advocate and leader without the overhanging uncertainty of motivation. Charlie is growing Litecoin regardless of price. Investors may be disappointed by the lack of financial incentive Charlie now has to grow Litecoin, but in terms of adoption and partnerships with major players (such as Amazon), the removal of a central figure with the potential to become a billionaire is good for the brand and even better for marketing. CNBC can’t write snide articles about the overnight fortune changes of Charlie Lee if he holds no financial stake.
All of this contributes to the growing brand share of Litecoin and the possibility of becoming a household name like Bitcoin. While all cryptocurrency searches are at their lowest point since October 2017, of the Big Four (Bitcoin, Ripple, Litecoin & Ethereum), Litecoin has managed to gain a step over Ethereum, and is just below Ripple in terms of Google Trend results. An even larger trend seems to be forming. If cryptocurrency continues to grow, which includes people gaining interest and investments in Bitcoin, the likelihood of Litecoin becoming a breakout candidate in the industry also goes exponential. The usability of Litecoin over Bitcoin is undeniable. While LTC may lack the same ability to scale as Ripple, Litecoin has fewer questions surrounding decentralization, and is more representative of cryptocurrency to enthusiasts than XRP, which is thought by many to be a tool for the financial sector. All of this could lead to the increased adoption of Litecoin, and the potential for the currency to take the top spot in popularity away from Bitcoin.