What does Altcoin mean in Crypto? An altcoin, as the name suggests, is the “alternative” cryptocurrency to Bitcoin (BTC). Most altcoins take their cues from Bitcoin, while tweaking some of Bitcoin’s technical functionalities. Popular altcoins include Ether (ETH), XRP, Litecoin (LTC), and Dogecoin (DOGE).
Example: “DeFi tokens and altcoins bore the brunt of today’s carnage as Bitcoin price dipped below $48,000.”
The use of Altcoin in Crypto is also broadly to describe a cryptocurrency that is not Bitcoin – Bitcoin was the first and original cryptocurrency, the creation of any cryptocurrency after it we treat as an “alternative.”. Since the creation of Bitcoin in 2008, there has been a deployment of more than 2,000 alternative cryptocurrencies.
The creation of some of these altcoins are as modified copies of Bitcoin, through a process known as “Hard Fork.”. They build them using Bitcoin’s open-source, original protocol, with changes to its underlying codes, therefore conceiving an entirely new coin with a different set of features.
Therefore, Altcoins that are variants of Bitcoin’s codes often present a similar mining process, which relies on the Proof of Work consensus algorithm.
‘Digital Gold’ Bitcoin and ‘Digital Silver’ Litecoin
One of the earliest altcoins, Litecoin (LTC), had its launch in 2011 by former Coinbase engineer Charlie Lee. The founder set out to create a new cryptocurrency, based on the Bitcoin-derived blockchain, with improved speed and accessibility.
For example, Bitcoin confirms blocks of transactions every 10 minutes. These blocks have a limit to 1MB in data. Litecoin confirms a block every 2.5 minutes. This faster generation rate matches the increase in total supply versus Bitcoin. There are only 21,000,000 BTC in total supply, and there are 84,000,000 LTC to ever be available in total.
The design is to improve some of Bitcoin’s practicalities, Litecoin is affectionately known as “digital silver” to Bitcoin’s “digital gold.”