As more and more lay consumers get involved in crypto-currency, they will begin asking a question: Bitcoin, Litecoin or another coin?
Certainly, as this blogpost points out, Bitcoin will most likely garner the largest number of followers; it was first on the market, it continues to receive the majority of press attention (good or bad) and its infrastructure is better supported the world over than many altcoins.
Furthermore, the system is slowly solidifying, ironically helped by recent major meltdowns such as Mt. Gox, which effectively enhanced the reliability of the network by removing troublesome parties. Much like the risk of a 51% attack, the more such parties are excluded, the less likely it is that more than half the computing power can fall into malicious hands and harm regular users.
Altcoins, however, can and do offer some major advantages over Bitcoin, at least at present. LiteCoin’s considerably faster block time and lighter use of resources makes it, along with forks such as WorldCoin which take the premise even further, a serious alternative to Bitcoin for those who are mindful of the real cost of getting involved in the fledgling industry.
There is already an altcoin to fulfill a huge variety of consumer functions. However, what will most likely change the scene in the near future is coming from within Bitcoin itself: the advent of sidechains.
The Coin Telegraph reported on the technological innovation sidechains represent earlier this month, as well as their potential use for humanitarian causes. What is exciting about them, aside from their own merits, is that they could shift the emphasis of Bitcoin for the public away from confusing technology and scandal onto usability and demonstrate its advantages more clearly.
Simply put, a project such as funding a well in Kenya from consumer Bitcoin donations made, for example, via a user-friendly Bitcoin app such as ZeroBlock, brings functionality and ‘friendliness’ to the fore for the public, while technological and legal rows appearing in the press are forced to take a back seat.
While such initiatives are currently the domain of altcoins, sidechains could bring this functionality into Bitcoin, consolidating both the crypto-currency market and its own status.
Time will tell whether the altcoin world can engineer a response to sidechains, should they catch on, as well as which party will ultimately win the race for consumer confidence and appeal.