Bitcoin has been getting a lot of positive press in 2017, and with a good reason. After topping $1,000 early in the year, the cryptocurrency went on to unprecedented and largely unforeseen heights. Over the summer, it maintained its momentum (against some negative predictions) and breached the $4,000 mark, solidifying itself as a powerful new asset class. But the key word here is class. While Bitcoin justifiably commands a lot of attention in the cryptocurrency market, it isn’t alone. It just happens to be out in front.
There is actually a whole category of Bitcoin alternatives known as “altcoins,” some of which are essentially mimics and others of which have various original features. But of the bunch – and rest assured there are dozens if not hundreds of them – there is no question which is the most popular. It’s Litecoin, an original digital currency that’s specifically meant to exist in higher volume than Bitcoin. Bitcoins will stop being mined once 21 million are out in the world; Litecoin will stop at 84 million. That almost inherently places less value in an individual Litecoin, but some believe it could make it more appealing as a usable currency in the future.
But Litecoin isn’t just the most noteworthy alternative to Bitcoin. As time goes on, it may also be proving itself to be the most competitive. This summer, during a brief window in which Bitcoin dropped off and fears of a bursting bubble spread among investors, something interesting happened: Litecoin surged. This inverse effect led people to wonder what exactly the relationship between the two cryptocurrencies might be and whether Litecoin could ultimately be the more strategic long-term play. As one article puts it, there is a possibility that Litecoin could act as a hedge against Bitcoin’s rampant volatility. And rest assured, while Bitcoin has performed strongly overall, it does remain almost problematically volatile.
This isn’t just an inverse relationship though. More broadly speaking, the price of Litecoin has surged throughout most of 2017, enjoying a somewhat similar trajectory to Bitcoin. The late summer and early autumn brought about new all-time highs near $80, and though it has fallen off since then, Litecoin is still trading in a higher range than it has in previous years. At the time of this writing, it’s worth about $52 or $53.
Now, you may look at those numbers and brush Litecoin off as a sort of minor alternative. Indeed, with Bitcoin now above $4,500, for the time being, it can be a little difficult to get excited about a different version of the same product hovering around $50 or $60. But for investment purposes, trajectory and trends matter as much as total value. Throw in the fact that Litecoin could be considered more accessible, and it’s something investors should be paying attention to in 2017.