Litecoin was first introduced by Charles Lee, a former employee of Google. Its stated purpose was to improve on other proof-of-work currencies through a few small but potent tweaks. Litecoin has fared decently since its inception, maintaining a significant portion of its value while remaining accessible to first-time investors. Because of its age and reputation, Litecoin is accepted by many independent businesses in a variety of categories including electronics, gaming, advertising, hosting and apparel. Still, because its innovations are minor and it lacks first-mover advantage, widespread acceptance has been slow.

One of Litecoin's main innovations is the increased rate at which information is added to its ledger. With a new block of transactions verified and posted roughly every two minutes, Litecoin transactions can be processed more quickly. This faster block generation rate also theoretically makes Litecoin's network more resistant to a 51 percent attack because the attackers would have to be able to dominate so many more verifications, but whether this is true remains to be seen. The unintended side effects of this feature are a much larger and more unwieldy stack of transactions to sift through and potentially increased energy consumption.

Another advantage of Litecoin is its large pool of available coins. Around 84 million Litecoins are scheduled to be created over the currency's lifetime, which in theory should allow it to strike a happy medium between too much available currency (devaluing individual coins) and too little available currency (which might make individual coins prohibitively expensive). How this strategy will play out in the long-run remains to be seen, but Litecoin's recent value of approximately a dollar per coin speaks well for the future.

Litecoin was also the first cryptocurrency to implement the Scrypt algorithm for its proof-of-work scheme in the hopes of breaking the dominance of specialized hardware over mining rewards. Scrypt ultimately proved unsuccessful at eliminating specialized hardware – the hardware simply got better – but Scrypt-based currencies still offer the advantage of potentially allowing merged mining with other such currencies, increasing the potential dividends and computational efficiency of mining them. Litecoin's respectable market capitalization is also a big draw as it has consistently been the third highest valued cryptocurrency on the market and shows no sign of dropping.

Overall, Litecoin is a stable and well-designed currency, but it lacks some of the flashier innovations that have characterized newer cryptocurrencies. It is a low-risk investment, and its core design principles are economically sound, but it is still too early to tell whether it will become a dominant alternative currency.