- Litecoin is seeing highs it is not skilled since its founder Charlie Lee cashed out in 2017.
- Lee mentioned folks nonetheless do not perceive his motivation, which was specializing in elevated adoption versus the value of LTC.
- He outlined plans for Litecoin’s new privateness improve, and his views on crypto regulation—which he believes is inevitable.
When (LTC) broke via the $200 barrier final weekend, for the primary time since March 2018, it sparked jubilation amongst LTC holders—as you may count on. However one man, who bought all his Litecoin in December 2017, was simply as overjoyed.
For 3 lengthy years, Charlie Lee, Litecoin’s 34-year-old founder, has confronted vocal criticism from some within the cryptocurrency’s neighborhood for cashing out close to the height. It has been a daily background noise in his life, as LTC (alongside different cryptocurrencies) endured a prolonged crypto winter.
Now that the world’s eighth-biggest cryptocurrency is lastly reliving its former glories (although it has but to surpass its all-time excessive of round $360), Decrypt sat down with Lee to speak concerning the challenge’s upcoming privacy upgrade; his shopping for and promoting methods, and Litecoin’s prospects within the coming months.
Barks from the bridge
Lee is likely one of the most well-known figures within the cryptocurrency business. Seated towards a dramatic background, he seemed to be on the bridge of Darth Vader’s ship from Star Wars. Solely his Labradoodle’s occasional barks belied the truth that he was really talking with Decrypt on a Zoom name from his residence in San Francisco.
He comes throughout as pleasant however critical; an keen however affected person trainer—practiced in explaining Litecoin’s advantages, together with its zero downtime and safety features, and excited concerning the upcoming MimbleWimble Extension Blocks (MWEB) improve, which can give the cryptocurrency privateness benefits.
Lee was born within the Ivory Coast and educated within the States from the age of 13. He’s an MIT graduate, in addition to a veteran of Google and crypto change .
Do you know?
Lee is an enthusiastic hockey participant and has performed in a Bay-Space league for twenty years.
He thought up Litecoin in 2011—forking the blockchain to create the “Lite model of Bitcoin,” a cryptocurrency that adopts lots of its guardian’s key options, however seeks to enhance on it with a bigger provide, quicker transaction occasions, and decrease charges.
“I did not actually count on something of it,” he recalled. However, as Litecoin approaches its tenth anniversary in October, its market cap is now virtually $15 billion—and loads of folks imagine its excessive liquidity, availability on exchanges, and longevity invite comparisons with solely Bitcoin itself.
“It’s stood the check of time,” mentioned Lee. Among the many challenges it is confronted over time, one, particularly, stands out: its founder cashing out in December 2017.
Lee’s main motive for promoting virtually all his LTC in December 2017 was battle of curiosity. Specializing in adoption and success, not value, is what pursuits him, he mentioned.
“Elon Musk is paid to extend the share value of Tesla, whereas my objective is to extend adoption and make Litecoin profitable—which is aligned with the value however it’s not precisely the identical,” he defined.
“Elon Musk is paid to extend the share value of Tesla, whereas my objective is to extend [Litecoin] adoption.”
However his motivations had been misunderstood, and other people in contrast him to a standard CEO—paid in shares.
“I purchased my very own shares,” he mentioned and added that the quantity of LTC was, in any case, nowhere close to what somebody like Musk holds in Tesla. So claims that his cashing out may affect the ; that he had insider data, and even that he crashed the complete crypto market, had been “ridiculous,” he mentioned.
“Individuals all the time say I bought on the all-time excessive, however that is removed from the reality. I bought on the way in which up. My common value was $200,” he mentioned.
He added that he’d made a public announcement, which gave folks the chance to promote in the event that they had been sad, and that regardless of that, the value of Litecoin remained excessive for every week.
However lots of people thought he should have stop, with no incentive to work on Litecoin anymore. In actual fact, it’s simply the other: “The success of Litecoin incentivizes me greater than something,” he insisted.
Litecoin and Mimblewimble
Proper now, Lee is most excited by the prospect of privateness options coming to Litecoin.
The challenge’s imminent MWEB improve will give it so-called “fungibility,” the place one coin is indistinguishable from one other.
“That is what makes cash highly effective as a result of each coin or any invoice is identical—it is fungible. At present, that is not the case with Litecoin and Bitcoin,” mentioned Lee.
The usage of more and more subtle analytics (and the truth that transactions are recorded on a public blockchain) implies that these cryptocurrencies, and most others, may be tracked. Not solely can they be linked to darkish markets—which dangers the account proprietor being banned—however the lack of privateness makes for unhealthy monetary etiquette:
“If you happen to purchase 10 Bitcoin from an change after which give a small quantity—like $10—to your buddy, [then] your buddy can see that you’ve got $300,000 in your checking account.” (When our interview passed off, in January, BTC was at $30,000).
To treatment this sort of state of affairs, the challenge is introducing experimental new privateness options, based mostly on privateness expertise MimbleWimble (which takes its uncommon title from Harry Potter).
To introduce the brand new code, the blockchain will want a tender fork—and how briskly that occurs depends upon how briskly the miners are prepared for it, mentioned Lee. “It might be a month. It may take as much as a 12 months.”.
A testnet was launched last September, and the preliminary code for integration with the mainchain will likely be full and prepared for evaluate on March 15.
“It is sort of like a aspect chain—one thing that is hooked up to the primary chain,” mentioned Lee. “You’ll be able to transfer cash from the Litecoin mainchain, which continues to be the clear blockchain, to the M-Chain.” Quantities are hidden, and transactions on the chain are extra personal, he defined.
A conservative method
In latest months, privateness cash and identity-obscuring instruments have appeared on the regulators’ radar. A report revealed in October final 12 months by the US Lawyer Basic’s Cyber Digital Activity Pressure outlined a new regulatory framework, and labeled nameless transactions “high-risk exercise indicative of attainable prison conduct.”
Subsequently, lawyers have warned that new restrictions would put strain on exchanges that supply privateness cash—reminiscent of Monero and Grin—to think about whether or not it’s nonetheless attainable to adjust to anti-money-laundering obligations. And a few Litecoin investors have balked on the threat of LTC being delisted as a consequence of harsher laws.
Lee is unperturbed. The improve is not going to make Litecoin a privateness coin; MWEB is an non-obligatory function, it’s completely reversible, and exchanges do not see any difficulty with compliance or falling afoul of laws with this improve, he mentioned.
“We’re taking this very conservatively,” he emphasised. “We do not need this to harm; we wish to nonetheless be on all of the exchanges to have excessive liquidity.”
“Bitcoin and Litecoin, for my part, can work with regulation.”
However, like many, he thinks regulation is inevitable and vital for cryptocurrencies to succeed. “Bitcoin and Litecoin, for my part, can work with regulation,” he mentioned. “There is perhaps extra crackdowns, and regulation is perhaps harder on crypto-fiat on-ramps and off-ramps, however I do not suppose you will ever get to some extent like banning cryptocurrency. I feel we’re previous that time now.”
Ought to extra stringent laws on privateness be launched, Lee mentioned he would first flip to the neighborhood earlier than taking any motion. He conceded that it is perhaps controversial, with some members of the neighborhood dedicated to pushing for privateness even when it drives LTC onto illicit exchanges, some arguing that Litecoin should not care what the regulators suppose and others eager to play it secure.
Some would argue that the latter consists of Lee himself, regardless of his enthusiasm for MWEB. “Probably the greatest options of Litecoin is liquidity,” he mentioned. “We should not damage that it doesn’t matter what.”