Litecoin is surging and crypto exchanges are struggling to keep up

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The Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange said trading for litecoin was temporarily disabled today, after the fourth-most-valuable cryptoasset soared by 80% in intraday trading. It was the latest outage or other interruption at the popular exchange in recent weeks, as it and other platforms struggle to keep up with the cryptoasset boom.

Crypto euphoria has mainly been limited to retail investors, but their enthusiasm is enticing institutional investors into the market. This week Cboe Holdings, a global exchange, launched bitcoin derivatives. Rival exchange CME Group plans to do the same on Dec. 18.

Coinbase’s latest trading disruption underscores the fragility of the trading platforms where the the bulk of digital assets currently change hands. These exchanges are basically startups trying to cope with immense growth, and trading disruptions and withdrawal freezes are fairly common.

Litecoin is the most-traded digital asset on Coinbase’s GDAX platform, surpassing both bitcoin and ethereum, according to Coinmarketcap.com.

Litecoin, which has climbed from about $4 at the beginning of the year to $329.91 today, differs from bitcoin in that transactions are faster, which could make it more useful for payments. In this sense, Bitcoin in some ways a victim of its own success—with its value climbing so quickly, investors are afraid to spend it. Maybe one of the few things worth buying with bitcoin at the moment is litecoin.