The cryptocurrency market is having a generally positive day on Wednesday, with all of the 10 largest cryptocurrencies gaining ground. However, Litecoin (LTC-USD) is the big standout, up by 32% on the day and 40% over the past week.

There are a couple catalysts that could be propelling Litecoin higher. For one, a group of developers is planning to fork the Litecoin blockchain, similar to how bitcoin cash forked from the bitcoin network in 2017. And more significantly, a new technology is about to hit the market, which could make it easy for millions of merchants to accept Litecoin payments.

A person using a credit card at a store checkout.

Consumers may soon be able to use Litecoin wherever Visa is accepted. Image source: Getty Images.

Today's cryptocurrency prices

Here's a look at the 10 largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, and how much each has changed over the past 24 hours.

Cryptocurrency Name (Code)

Price in U.S. Dollars

Day's Change

Bitcoin (BTC)

$9,209.50

8.5%

Ethereum (ETH)

$893.17

6.5%

Ripple (XRP)

$1.04

3.9%

Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

$1,350.70

10.4%

Litecoin (LTC)

$209.30

31.9%

Cardano (ADA)

$0.37

3.8%

Stellar (XLM)

$0.44

9.4%

NEO (NEO)

$117.30

6.9%

EOS (EOS)

$9.40

7.4%

IOTA (MIOTA)

$1.96

10.5%

Data Source: www.investing.com. Prices and daily changes as of Feb. 14, 2018 at 10:50 a.m. EST, and prices are rounded to the nearest cent where appropriate.

A Litecoin "fork" may be right around the corner

The first Litecoin-related news that could be boosting prices is the plan to fork the Litecoin (LTC-USD) blockchain, which would create a new cryptocurrency called "Litecoin Cash." The idea is similar to when bitcoin cash forked from the bitcoin blockchain last year -- the Litecoin Cash developers say that the new digital currency will improve Litecoin's "block speed."

The Litecoin Cash Foundation, which it is important to point out has no affiliation with Litecoin, says that holders of Litecoin tokens at the time of the fork will be entitled to 10 Litecoin Cash tokens for every Litecoin they hold.

The fork is planned for a certain block in the Litecoin blockchain (block 1371111 to be exact), which is expected to occur on Monday, Feb. 19.

To be clear, Litecoin founder Charlie Lee has called this fork a "scam," designed to trick people into thinking it's related to Litecoin. The actual Litecoin team has no plans to fork the digital currency. So, while the legitimacy of the fork is questionable, the prospect of receiving a newly created cryptocurrency could certainly be putting upward pressure on Litecoin's price.

Could Litecoin actually become a widely accepted currency?

LitePay, Inc. announced Tuesday that its upcoming instantaneous Litecoin payment platform is set to be unveiled on Feb. 28. That is likely the bigger reason investors are excited about Litecoin (LTC-USD) on Wednesday.

The idea is that LitePay will allow businesses to easily accept Litecoin payments, including via Visa-branded debit cards.

By instantly accepting Litecoin payments and converting those payments into local currency (such as the U.S. dollar), it removes cryptocurrency volatility from the equation -- a big concern that has prevented merchants from accepting digital currencies. From the consumer's point of view, being able to use Litecoin wherever Visa cards are accepted, or to convert Litecoin into cash at an ATM, makes Litecoin perhaps the most practical cryptocurrency yet.

One of the biggest challenges facing not only Litecoin, but cryptocurrencies in general, is the problem of widespread acceptance. That is, it's tough to call something a currency if you can't buy anything with it. So far, nobody has been able to solve this problem on a large scale.

While I think widespread Litecoin (or bitcoin) usage is still in the distant future, if the LitePay platform works as effectively as its developers claim, it could certainly make LiteCoin a much more practical digital asset than it is now.

Matthew Frankel has no position in any of the stocks mentioned, but he owns Ethereum and Litecoin tokens. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Visa. The Motley Fool has no position in any cryptocurrencies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.