Litecoin, currently the world's fifth largest major cryptocurrency by value, has leaped higher today following a steady rise over the last few days, pushing bitcoin, ethereum, and the wider cryptocurrency market higher.
The litecoin price, which is some 85% down from its all-time highs, has risen 17% over the last 24 hours to a year-to-date high of $55. Litecoin began the year at just over $30 per coin.
Bitcoin has meanwhile added 3%, according to CoinMarketCap data, as traders and investors again try to cross the psychological $4,000 mark, with data signaling the long-running bitcoin bear market could be coming to an end. Ethereum rose almost 8% over the last 24 hours, buoyed by the wider market.
Litecoin's rally, which has seen some $500 million added to its market capitalization over the last 24 hour period, comes as the crisis-hit Venezuela launches a government-sanctioned cryptocurrency remittance service, allowing users to send bitcoin and litecoin into the country.
People in Venezuela have been struggling against economic collapse and hyperinflation over recent years, with the president Nicolas Maduro clinging onto power despite a U.S.-backed challenge from opposition leader Juan Guaido and international sanctions.
The service is designed to "guarantee financial inclusion along with the social protection of the people of Venezuela" though it warns it could be disabled at any time "depending on the availability of funds in bolívars."
The bitcoin sector is currently trapped in a long-running bear market, with some $400 billion in value wiped from the world's cryptocurrencies over the past 12 months as adoption stalls and banks put closely-watched plans to wade into bitcoin and cryptocurrencies on hold.
Bitcoin's epic 2017 bull run was largely put down to expectations institutional investment and big bank support for bitcoin would soon arrive. As 2018 dragged on and that investment failed to appear many investors and traders got cold feet, bailing out of their bitcoin and cryptocurrency positions.
Many bitcoin investors and traders are however looking toward things like the highly-anticipated Bakkt bitcoin platform and a U.S. bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) to boost the price, though those expectations have been somewhat dampened lately as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission frets over potential price manipulation.
The Bakkt bitcoin platform, which is being developed with New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange as well as partnerships with coffee shop chain Starbucks and PC giant Microsoft, plans to offer bitcoin futures trading from the first quarter of this year and open bitcoin and cryptocurrencies up to a wider retail market.