Bitcoin's second blockchain technology, the Lightning network, is not yet ready for mainstream use

Bitcoin's second blockchain technology, the Lightning network, is not yet ready for mainstream use

The idea behind the Bitcoin Lightning Network may have been such a thing: we do not really need to keep track of every single transaction on the blockchain.

Instead, the lightning network adds another level to the Bitcoin blockchain and allows users to create payment channels between any two parts on that extra layer. These channels can exist for as long as necessary and, since they are set up between two people, the transactions will be almost instantaneous and the rates will be extremely low or even non-existent.

Although Lightning Network has been hailed as a solution to the problem of Bitcoin scalability, there are many problems that hold back the off-chain system.

Problems with the Lightning network

While the capacity and the number of nodes and channels constantly increase, the reliability of successfully routing a payment on Lightning network it is still quite low, especially for larger quantities. The success rate for a payment of no more than a few dollars between random LN nodes is 70%. The situation is even worse for larger payments. The probability of correctly routing the payment of less than $ 200 between random LN nodes is only 1%.

Operating on LN is a very demanding task. The more mobile parts are present in a machine, the greater the chances of a breakdown. And the Lightning network he has a lot of gears.

If Bitcoin can be compared to cash transactions, the Lightning network is similar to an online decentralized credit system: traders exchange notes, keep their spending under control and use blockchain only when their interaction ends. This is a big difference from the sign-and-send procedure for a normal chain transaction.

The Lightning Network requires an active involvement by all the subjects involved. Each part must be online at the same time; you can not simply post a QR code on your website to ask for suggestions. A successful Lightning transaction requires the choice of an optimal payment path between thousands of intermediaries and, since the nodes are constantly switched on and off, that path must be recalculated each time.

The developers have indicated that they are aware of the limits of Lightning. "Users need to understand how the protocol and payment channels work, and this implies the knowledge of fields like cryptography, security, game theory, economics and more," writes Lightning Labs in a blog post, intended to explain the process for lay people. "However, with Lightning's maturity, we will work to improve the Lightning user experience to make it easier, more intuitive and more familiar."

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