Litecoin (LTC) is putting on a show today amid news a group of developers may seek to fork its blockchain, the fifth-largest by total value.
The cryptocurrency was last seen changing hands at $216, a one-month high, according to data service CoinMarketCap. Overall, LTC has appreciated by 33 percent in the last 24 hours, up over 100 percent from the Feb. 6 low of $106.94. Further, with the move, litecoin’s market capitalization has jumped above $10 billion for the first time since Jan. 29.
Significantly, although Litecoin is still trading well below the peak USD value it set in mid-December, LTC/BTC is trading at .0227 BTC, its highest point since July 2015.
Diverging from previous pumps, LTC trading volume is very evenly distributed across the world’s major exchanges. At 26 percent, OKEx accounts for the largest slice, while GDAX ranks second with 14 percent. South Korea-based Bithumb and Upbit each prices Litecoin at an eight percent premium over other exchanges, but their trading pairs only account for a combined 10 percent of global LTC volume.
LitePay previews Feb. 26 launch date
Tuesday’s rally comes in direct response to the announcement that LitePay, a payment processing company modeled after industry stalwart BitPay, is scheduled to launch on Feb. 26. The company quietly made the announcement on Twitter on Monday, but word seems to have traveled slowly, given that the rally is just now taking off.
According to the San Francisco-based company’s website, LitePay will offer many of the same features as BitPay. Most notably, it will provide businesses with the ability to accept LTC payments that are settled in fiat currency. Additionally, it will issue Litecoin debit cards, which users can fund with LTC and use at virtually any retailer.
Since Litecoin markets itself as a payment-focused cryptocurrency, the establishment of LitePay’s infrastructure will greatly aid its utility for this use case.
However, another theory is that Litecoin’s bullish pivot could be tied to the announcement that a group of developers is going to fork the main Litecoin blockchain on Feb. 19 to create Litecoin Cash, airdropping coins to all wallet addresses that hold LTC at the time of the fork. Litecoin Cash is promising new tokens to existing holders at block 1,371,111. For every 1 LTC held at block 1,371,111, holders will receive 10 “LCC,” according to the official website.
However, there is a notable contingent that is warning about the new cryptocurrency.
Litecoin founder creator Charlie Lee and the litecoin community have dismissed the project, calling it a “scam” meant to confuse litecoin owners. Bitcoin similarly boomed on the release of a rival blockchain called bitcoin cash last year, though there were perhaps more stark differences between the two technologies, both propelled by competing ideologies.
Closer analysis shows the LTC price increase has been bolstered by strong volumes from Coinbase’s GDAX exchange, a sign less-savvy consumers may be active in the market.
However, questions about the fork aside, technical charts indicate the news may be enough to extend a rally in the flagging market.