Huobi is said to be finalizing tests for implementation before regular trading commences.
The litecoin price on BTC-e took a sudden leap earlier today – very likely as a result of the Huobi announcement.
Huobi co-founder Jun Du said the company only considered implementing litecoin after careful deliberation and would provide the same business support and services it already does for bitcoin.
A company user survey in January showed that about 20% of bitcoin investors also had money in litecoin. Furthermore, the frequency of searches for 'litecoin' as a keyword on Chinese search engine Baidu showed that the currency had achieved acceptance by a large number of investors in China.
When litecoin is traded on Huobi, Du said, it will have a chance to shed its 'shanzhai' (loosely translated as 'cheap copy') image in the minds of Chinese investors.
"Huobi as a platform has a duty to be responsible to its investors to be open, fair, safe and professional in its operations, but also in picking out quality products for its users to trade. Thoughtlessly including products that are not high quality would be irresponsible to our users.
An analogy is how more and more investors have quit the local A-share equities market in favor of the more selective and regulated Hong Kong and New York stock exchanges to better protect their economic interests.
Because Litecoin has achieved acceptance by a large number of investors, has good liquidity and value, and has been able to withstand the tests of the markets, Huobi has decided to launch litecoin trading."
Huobi's move follows BTC China's similar decision, announced a week ago, which implemented litecoin trading "effective immediately" with 0% fees, and trumpeted the fraternal relationship between the company's CEO Bobby Lee and litecoin inventor Charles Lee.
Du also mentioned something litecoin and other altcoin proponents often claim: that competition in the cryptocurrency field is both welcome and healthy.
"Bitcoin's open source nature," he said, "means that it is a technology that wishes to be improved upon, and welcomes progress, [and its aim is] to change the entire global financial system to build an open, decentralized and safe currency system."
"Digital currencies so far are still embryonic in their development, and bitcoin has pointed the way. However, digital currency systems need competition, and fear of competition will only make room for flaws, and in fact is antithetical to the open-source nature of bitcoin."
As to whether this means Huobi will support other digital currencies in future, Du said the options were wide open.
"Huobi's goal is to be a 'professional digital currency exchange platform'," he said. "So as long as a currency has enough liquidity and sufficient value, our operational department will consider including it on our platform. As soon as the market is sufficiently mature, we will put it online for trading on Huobi."
Litecoin will now be traded on some of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges. The late Mt. Gox was long said to be working on a litecoin implementation, and BTC-e has always been the coin's most popular market.
Singapore-based payment processor GoCoin announced the altcurrency as an option for merchants in January.
There is also Coinbase, the US-based bitcoin converter and payment processor that has actually employed Charles Lee since July last year.
Huobi's news was well-received by litecoin fans on forums like reddit and Litecointalk. Despite the attention heaped upon dogecoin lately, litecoin remains the world's third most valuable cryptocurrency (after Ripple's XRP) with a current market cap of $440,913,597.
Litecoin is often touted by supporters and its creator as 'silver to bitcoin's gold', the rationale being its larger overall quantity and a lower value making it more psychologically accessible to new investors.
One litecoin is now worth 0.027 BTC, or $17.16. Despite bitcoin's Satoshi-level divisibility of a millionth, the thought of buying one whole coin for less than $20 still carries a certain appeal.
This story was co-authored by Rui Ma and Jon Southurst.