Litecoin is a decentralized, peer-to-peer (P2P) digital currency and payment network supported by an open-source blockchain protocol. Through Litecoin, users can make payments to anyone in the world at relatively high speeds and low costs compared to traditional payment channels (i.e., SWIFT, ACH, FedWire system) and many other digital assets. It was launched in October 2011 by Charlie Lee, who held positions at Google, followed by Coinbase, until his departure in 2017 to head the Litecoin Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to accelerating the development and adoption of the technology.

The Litecoin Project emerged as an alternative solution to Bitcoin in light of early concerns over Bitcoin’s wait times in confirming block transactions. By introducing minor technical modifications to the original Bitcoin source code, Litecoin allowed for faster transaction speeds and even lower processing fees. As one of the earliest and most successful derivatives of Bitcoin, Litecoin has established its position as the fifth largest network by market cap in the digital currency ecosystem, complementing and reinforcing Bitcoin in purpose, function, and utility, and challenging our traditional notions of money.1

Learn more about Litecoin’s history and defining characteristics in our report, which is part of the Building Blocks series:

1. As of August 31, 2019.