Litecoin (LTC) is a fork of the Bitcoin Core client which was released via an open-source client on GitHub. It was created by Charlie Lee, a former Google employee and Ex-Director of Engineering at Coinbase.
Litecoin was released in October 2011. For quite a long time, it had been the second cryptocurrency by market cap. That's why people called it "digital silver." At the moment, Litecoin comes fifth, losing to Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Bitcoin Cash. The market cap is $2.93 billion, and 1 LTC equals 0.00747660 BTC, or $54.56. Since the beginning of this year, the price has rocketed up by 1,250%.
The Litecoin network is scheduled to produce 84 million litecoins, which is four times as many currency units as bitcoin. Just like Bitcoin, Litecoin is mined. One can either lead their solitary venture or join a mining "pool." Unlike Bitcoin with its SHA256, Litecoin employs a simplified version of scrypt as its proof-of-work hashing algorithm. Its performance relies heavily on the access to a large amount of memory.
Many people often compare Bitcoin to gold, saying it's an ideal investment option. Well then, Litecoin could be viewed as money—a medium of exchange with required functionality. Litecoin's approximate block generation time is 2.5 minutes versus 10 minutes for Bitcoin, which means more transactions at faster confirmation times.
Moreover, Litecoin has activated Segregated Witness (SegWit) and deployed Lightning Networks (LN), which significantly improved network's capacity. And the Atomic Swap technology enables Litecoin to be directly exchanged for Bitcoin, Ethereum, Vertcoin, and Decred—blockchains that also use atomic swaps.
What I'd like to say is that the situation with these two digital currencies demonstrates that he who comes second, works harder. All technologies mentioned above were first introduced and tested in the Litecoin network. The team is constantly trying to make its product better. Litecoin is faster and more flexible than Bitcoin, which allows for it to try out new ideas and experiment with them real quick.
From my point of view, Litecoin's major—and most serious—competitor is not Bitcoin but Zcash. It's built upon the Zerocash protocol that provides privacy-preserving transactions. It is anonymity that made Edward Snowden come out in support for the cryptocurrency, calling it "the most interesting Bitcoin alternative."
There's no way Litecoin could outplay Bitcoin in terms of popularity. But as the cryptocurrency industry matures, few digital currencies will be able to gain recognition. And from the technical side, Litecoin has all the chances to become the best cryptocurrency for retail transactions.