In 2009, when Bitcoin was first released to the public, the term “cryptocurrency” had not made it into the public discourse. In fact, it would be two years later, in 2011, that bitcoin itself started to pick up so much steam that people began copying it in the hopes of reproducing bitcoin’s success that litecoin was developed.

For all intents and purposes, litecoin is a copy of bitcoin. This fact alone doesn’t explain the extreme price disparity between the two. When I looked around for a cryptocurrency to invest in, litecoin seemed like the clear number two. I thought that, with time, people would seek to find another cryptocurrency to use besides bitcoin. Litecoin might make a logical choice- it was essentially the same as bitcoin, yet it was far easier to get into.

Time- and a few friendly people- quickly proved me wrong. Bitcoin, as the undisputed king of cryptocurrencies, is still being adopted and developed. The investment for bitcoin-related businesses has been rising every year, with no ceiling in sight. Even while the price of bitcoin goes down, people remain engaged in using it.

I can not say the same for litecoin. People just aren’t engaged with it. No interest is being put forward to developed litecoin-related apps, services, or websites. The incentive lies with bitcoin, since it is more valuable.

For alternative cryptocurrencies, called altcoins, a better alternative exists besides litecoin. That currency is darkcoin. In simplistic terms, darkcoin is bitcoin version 2.0. It contains several upgrades over the original, the most notable of which is its increased security.

A short comparison study on twitter enabled me to find out how engaged people were with litecoin as opposed to darkcoin. There were some litecoin pages, and a handful of people who were willing to talk about it. There were far more darkcoin pages, and far more people willing to discuss it. Through these conversations, it became clear that litecoin had landed in an awkward place, chronologically. It was not the first on the scene, and could not claim an advance of development options. It was not an upgrade over the previous version. It simply was, and its value appears to exist only in shorting.

Darkcoin, meanwhile, as a better version of bitcoin, appears to have a better future. The incentive for people to get into darkcoin right now is extremely high: it functions better than bitcoin at a very small fraction of the price. As a one-year old currency (it was released in January 2014), it already appears to be the number three most valuable crytpocurrency out there. All the signs- development, functionality, user engagement- point towards it overtaking litecoin.

Skeptics of darkcoin (or of altcoins altogether) need only consider this outdated chart of bitcoin’s value, displaying its fluctuation from 2011 to 2013:

bitcoin chart

The conditions that gave rise to bitcoin’s popularity- it being an upgrade over fiat currency- already exist with darkcoin, it being an upgrade over bitcoin. Nor does this even appear to be the end. Sooner or later, perhaps sooner, another cryptocurrency will come on the scene, itself being an upgrade over darkcoin. In fact, it is not difficult to imagine how the blockchain will enable ever greater efficiency while providing ever-greater security.

For the present, and the immediate future, success belongs to the innovators, rather than the copiers.