Bitcoin may get the most attention, but several merchants are beginning to accept a digital currency called Litecoin, the second largest digital currency by market capitalization.
Litecoin is one of hundreds of digital currencies built off the open-source technology that Bitcoin is based on. Different currencies offer different perks, such as speed or security.
"The markets will [decide] which [digital currencies] survive and which ones don't, or which niche each will fall into," says Craig Huntzinger, a co-owner with his wife and kids of BeesBros, a North Logan, Utah-based bee-keeping business. "Litecoin seemed popular enough that we were considering taking it and didn't get around to it until several people contacted us and asked if we would ever [take it]."
Compared to Bitcoin, which will only ever have 21 million units, Litecoin has 84 million units. And Litecoin touts transaction confirmation times of just two and a half minutes, a significant boost in speed over the approximately 10 minutes it takes to confirm a Bitcoin payment. Currently one Litecoin costs about $24.
BeesBros has accepted only a few Litecoin transactions.
"At first we were planning on converting them to Bitcoin, but decided just to keep them for now," Huntzinger says. "We haven't had time to see how we can spend them, so for now we are holding them."
Several Internet hosting and Web design businesses accept Litecoin, according to UseLitecoin.com, a website that lists Litecoin merchants. Several jewelry sellers also accept Litecoin, it says.
Litecoin was created by Charles Lee, the brother of Bobby Lee, CEO of the prominent digital currency exchange BTC China.
Other digital currencies are seeing wider acceptance. Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization, accepts Ripple, a digital currency created for the Ripple payment network. Ven, which was created as part of Hub Culture social network, is seeing wider use and can be exchanged for other currencies on Payward Inc.'s Kraken exchange.