- Litecoin was created in 2011 and is a "fork" or clone of the Bitcoin blockchain.
- Every four years, the blockchain's pace of new issuance of its LTC cryptocurrency is cut in half – the third reduction in the project's 12-year history was conducted on Wednesday.
Litecoin, one of the oldest and largest blockchains, underwent the third “halving” in its 12-year history, a key milestone for a project often referred to as “digital silver” in comparison to Bitcoin’s reputation as “digital gold.”
The event in the blockchain's lifecycle was expected, since it was programmed into the decentralized network's underlying code, prescribed to happen roughly every four years. Technically it meant that the "block subsidy" – the predetermined reward miners receive for processing transactions and securing the network – went down from 12.5 litecoin (LTC) to 6.25 LTC.
While the cut in rewards can reduce incentives for miners to continue securing the network, it benefits the project by helping achieve mass adoption without sacrificing the blockchain's security.
Few crypto analysts see Litecoin as one of the most technologically promising blockchains, but its vintage status and staying power have kept the project on the minds of crypto veterans. The native LTC cryptocurrency still ranks as one of the industry's most valuable, at about $7 billion.
Litecoin is also notable because it helps secure the Dogecoin blockchain, which despite being created as a joke in 2014, has become a top-20 project with a market capitalization of $14 billion. Dogecoin has become a frequent talking point of the billionaire Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and the owner of X, the social-media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Bitcoin and Litecoin both reward “miners” who process transactions and secure the network, with a reward – a combination of variable transaction fees and a predetermined “subsidy” that gets halved approximately every four years. (With Litecoin, they happen every 840,000 transaction blocks, and the average time to generate each block is about 2.5 minutes.)
On Wednesday, that subsidy was officially reduced by 50%, meaning that miners have basically received a pay cut, albeit one they were already expecting.
Litecoin founder Charlie Lee says these disinflationary halvings help achieve mass adoption without sacrificing network security.
“Satoshi chose four-year block halving so that it gives enough time for the network to grow in time for the fees to eventually take over.” Lee explained during a Twitter livestream last week. “The idea is that there will be enough usage on-chain creating enough fees. The fees will be enough to pay the miners to continue to help secure the network.”
Lee knew Bitcoin was special after he read an article in 2011 about how it was the exclusive payment method on Silk Road, a marketplace for illicit drugs; a feat no traditional payment method could accomplish at the time.
He was so impressed that when he later decided to start his own project, he cloned Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto’s code – including many of the original blockchain’s key features. One of those was the implementation of periodic “halvings” into the blockchain’s underlying programming, for a 50% reduction in the pace of new issuance of the cryptocurrency every four years or so.
Charlie Lee has an older brother, Bobby Lee, who is the CEO and co-founder of Ballet, a manufacturer of special cards used for “cold storage” or holding crypto offline. The pair have teamed up to commemorate the blockchain’s third halving by creating 500 collectible cards made of 99.9% pure silver.
The cards themselves – the silver alone – could carry a value of roughly $40 a card, but they would also be loaded with 6.25 LTC, about $581. They are expected to be sold for around $1,000, which means the premium would represent some intangible value to buyers. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Litecoin Foundation to further the blockchain’s adoption and development, according to Charlie Lee.
“It's on a silver card,” Charlie Lee explained. “So even if litecoin goes to zero, it will still be worth the price of silver.”
Litecoin's market capitalization is currently around $7 billion. LTC was trading at $89.02 at the time of reporting, down 4% in the past 24 hours.
“Like I’ve previously said, a lot of the price action is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Charlie Lee said. “Just because people think the halving is going to cause the price to go up, they will buy ahead of the halving or even right after the halving.”
“For bitcoin and litecoin, sometimes the price went up before, sometimes it runs up afterwards,” he added. “Sometimes it doesn't really have too much of an effect. It all depends on how the market reacts to the halving.”
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