Litecoin is down 2.2% Tuesday morning — alongside most other major coins — after the cryptocurrency’s first hard fork, Litecoin Cash, was announced by an unaffiliated organization.
The goal of the new currency is to increase the “block speed” at which the network can process transactions. The foundation says litecoin Cash has a goal block time of 2.5 minutes — faster than litecoin. Like bitcoin and most other major cryptocurrencies, but unlike the existing Litecoin network, litecoin Cash will use the more energy intensive, but potentially more secure, proof-of-work mining method.
The fork will occur precisely at block 1371111. The Litecoin network is currently on block 1368028 at the time of writing, according to BlockCypher. The fork is expected to occur sometime around 9 p.m. ET on Monday, February 19.
Litecoin, which was designed to be less energy intensive than bitcoin, saw an astronomical rise in 2017. The cryptocurrency skyrocketed from just $3.73 a year ago, to as high as $365 in December, leading founder Charlie Lee to warn investors about the possibility of losing everything. He also sold his entire stake after being accused of price manipulation.
One week before litecoin Cash was announced, Lee tweeted a warning that any fork of litecoin was "a scam trying to confuse you to think it’s related to litecoin."
Forks aren’t uncommon in the cryptocurrency world, although they are not without controversy. Bitcoin Cash famously split from the flagship bitcoin in August 2017, but the forked cryptocurrency has been accused of merely riding the coattails of the more established bitcoin.
Litecoin cash's founders insist that isn't the case with this new cryptocurrency.
"As to the name, it’s strictly a product of convention. No confusion is intended, but it has simply become customary for a new coin arising from a fork to use the forked coin’s name as a prefix to its own," litecoin cash's head of design Michael “Scarlet” Wyszynski told Business Insider.
"And while we're not affiliated with Litecoin or the Litecoin dev team in any way, we will share the first 1371111 blocks of transactions in the ledger. People are absolutely right to be cautious and skeptical."
This post has been updated to include comment from the litecoin Cash team.