Compared to the other altcoins, Feathercoin is among the closest kin to Bitcoin. For example, it is mined in much the same way as Bitcoin, and the system is set up to function very in many of the same ways as Bitcoin. Feathercoin also has a hard supply limit, and relies on P2P community monitoring to ensure stability.
Perhaps the most import difference is that the mining process for Feathercoins uses a Scrypt based algorithm that ensures that ASIC miners won’t gain a huge advantage over GPU miners. Currently, it is all but impossible for GPU miners to mine Bitcoins in any significant quantities. Instead, Bitcoin is dominated by miners with extremely expensive and powerful ASIC mining machines. With Feathercoin, however, the algorithm itself will ensure that GPU miners remain competitive.
There are also 336 million Bitcoins available. Miners are also rewarded with 200 coins each time they mine a block. This number will be halved after 840,000 Feathercoins are mined. Further, whereas Bitcoin is set up to generate a block every 10 minutes, Feathercoin sets its target at every 2.5 minutes. The creators of Feathercoin believe that the higher limit and larger supply of newly created Feathercoins will make the currency itself more widely used and stable.
Bitcoin, on the other hand, has a hard limit of 21 million Bitcoins and only 25 bitcoins are created each time a block is mined. Some people believe that Bitcoin will ultimately fail because there simply won’t be enough Bitcoins for the system to function. Think about this, there are trillions upon trillions of American dollars coursing through the global economy, creating liquidity and facilitating trade. Precisely how Bitcoin will function with so few Bitcoins available in the market remains unknown.
Some critics believe that there are simply too few Bitcoins available on the market. For them, a currency like Feathercoin might appear to be more attractive. Bitcoin supporters note, however, that Bitcoin was designed this way on purpose in order to ensure that the value of Bitcoins do not drop and are not as vulnerable to inflation. Feathercoin, on the other hand, might be vulnerable to said issues.
Another very important concept is Feathercoin’s “Advanced Checkpointing” system. This system creates a central node through which the software can monitor Feathercoin transactions and ensure that no one is able to able to launch a “51%” attack. A 51% attack would allow a miner who controls 51% of all mining production to essentially double spend Bitcoins. The Advanced checkpointing system also guards against other potential weaknesses.
There are clearly a lot of issues to consider when examining altcoins. It should be remembered that at the moment, all digital currencies are highly speculative and thus you should be careful when investing in them. So if you’re interested in digital currencies, make sure you keep your eye on Feathercoin and other altcurrencies. For the moment, Bitcoin appears to have a huge and potentially unsurmountable lead, but it’s always possible that another currency could catch up to or even surpass Bitcoin.