What is Litecoin?
Litecoin is a peer-to-peer Internet currency that enables instant payments to anyone in the world. It is based on the Bitcoin protocol but differs from Bitcoin in that it can be efficiently mined with consumer-grade hardware. Litecoin provides faster transaction confirmations (2.5 minutes on average) and uses a memory-hard, scrypt-based mining proof-of-work algorithm to target the regular computers and GPUs most people already have. The Litecoin network is scheduled to produce 84 million currency units.
One of the aims of Litecoin was to provide a mining algorithm that could run at the same time, on the same hardware used to mine bitcoins. With the rise of specialized ASICs for Bitcoin, Litecoin continues to satisfy these goals. It is unlikely for ASIC mining to be developed for Litecoin until the currency is widely used.
The Litecoin blockchain is capable of handling higher transaction volume than its counterpart - Bitcoin. Due to more frequent block generation, the network supports more transactions without a need to modify the software in the future.
As a result, merchants get faster confirmation times, while still having ability to wait for more confirmations when selling bigger ticket items.
Wallet encryption allows you to secure your wallet, so that you can view transactions and your account balance, but are required to enter your password before spending litecoins.
This provides protection from wallet-stealing viruses and trojans as well as a sanity check before sending payments.
Miners are currently awarded with 50 new litecoins per block, an amount which gets halved roughly every 4 years (every 840,000 blocks).
The Litecoin network is therefore scheduled to produce 84 million litecoins, which is 4 times as many currency units as Bitcoin.