Cryptocurrency roundup: litecoin blunder, cardano update and bitcoin mining in Laos

Saloni Sardana looks at the week’s biggest stories in the world of cryptocurrencies.

Welcome back.

It was an unusual week for cryptocurrencies: Cardano’s much anticipated network update finally took place; cryptocurrency Litecoin said it “screwed up” by sharing a false press release; and much more.

Here are the top stories that you may have missed.

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Litecoin says it “screwed up” by retweeting a false Walmart partnership release

Cryptocurrency litecoin shot to fame this week, but for the wrong reasons.

Charlie Lee, litecoin’s founder, told Bloomberg that it had really “screwed up” after a zealous employee retweeted a factually inaccurate press release that said litecoin would be teaming up with Walmart for payments.

The rumour sparked a 25% rise in the cryptocurrency, but those gains were quickly eroded once it emerged the press release was false.

The debacle shed light on the weaknesses of the cryptocurrency: "The thing is with litecoin, a decentralised cryptocurrency, anyone can really start supporting it and accepting it without talking to me or without going through the Litecoin Foundation,” Lee told Bloomberg on Monday.

Cardano’s Alonzo network upgrade attracts 100 smart contracts on the first day

Cardano’s long awaited Alonzo update – which enables smart contract functionality – finally went live on Monday and saying it received a warm welcome would be an understatement – 100 smart contracts were processed in just 24 hours of it taking place.

Touted as the “next big thing” after Ethereum, the cardano blockchain can be used to build smart contracts, protocols and decentralised applications. It was co-founded by mathematician Charles Hoskinson and by former Ethereum worker Jeremy Wood, to build a more scalable and secure blockchain network, two things Hoskinson believes Ethereum will find difficult to fully achieve.

Cardano’s platform is made up of two layers: the “cardano settlement layer’ (CSL) and the “control layer”. The former acts as a unit of account and allows token holders to send and receive cardano immediately at very low transaction costs. The latter is a set of protocols that have many functions, including running smart contracts, ensuring security, and facilitating identity recognition.

Laos authorises crypto mining and trading

Laos has given cryptocurrency mining and trading the green light in an uncharacteristic policy decision – the country just warned stakeholders last month about the risks of using cryptocurrencies. So why did it do it?

It is likely that Laos tapped into cryptocurrencies to “profit from the crackdown on digital currency mining in China,” reports the Financial Times, adding that it is a “logical step” for the country, “which produces a surplus of hydroelectric power”.

Six companies, including a bank and construction groups, were authorised to commence mining activities and even start trading cryptocurrencies.

The next step will be for the Bank of Laos and the country’s national power utility to regulate the industry.

Solana crashes after a network outage

Solana, the blockchain belonging to the cryptocurrency “sol”, which rose to become the sixth largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation, crashed this week due to an outage.

The outage was caused by a spike in transaction volumes, with the network’s transaction load peaking at 400,000 transactions per second.

Sol hit an all-time high the week before and had risen around 350% in the previous month alone, and has very much been the darling of the crypto world. It has been touted as a serious challenger to Ethereum, even more than rival altcoin cardano is.

But the outage did little favours to sol in upending its reputation as a rival to Ethereum. The outage on the network ended on Wednesday.

Cryptocurrency markets update

Here’s what happened in the cryptocurrency market in the last seven days:

  • Bitcoin rose 3.4% to $47,837.
  • Ether rose 3% to $3,513.
  • Dogecoin fell 0.5% to $0.25.
  • Cardano fell 4.3% to $2.40.
  • Solana fell 25% to $140.1.

What you need to watch out for

Ethereum’s “Layer 2” upgrades

By the end of the month, Ethereum is planning to implement two new “Optimistic Rollups”, which speed up the way smart contracts pass data from one network to another. The two upgrades are called Optimism and Arbitrum, respectively.

Saloni Sardana

Saloni is a web writer for MoneyWeek focusing on personal finance and global financial markets. Her work has appeared in FTAdviser (part of the Financial Times),  Business Insider and City A.M, among other publications. She holds a masters in international journalism from City, University of London.

Follow her on Twitter at @sardana_saloni