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I found this on the Wikipedia IOTA article:

IOTA uses Winternitz hash-based cryptography signatures instead of elliptic curve cryptography (ECC).[30][31] Hash-based signatures are much faster than ECC.[32]

Is speed the complete reason, or are their other factors that went into the decision?

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One of the reasons is quantum-security.

Traditional cryptocurrencies base their security on elliptic-curve cryptography. Classical examples of such algorithms are the RSA Cryptosystem, Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange or Digital Signature Algorithm, all of which are known to be vulnerable to quantum computers. Winternitz hash-based signatures, on the other hand, are largely resilient to quantum computers.

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    Immune is a strong word; "resilient" is more accurate. – Helmar Jan 1 '18 at 13:22
  • @Helmar I took your comment to heart. :) – Phil-ZXX Jan 1 '18 at 15:32

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