Antonopoulos Talks Lightning Network, Its Progress And How It Differs From The Bitcoin Network


Andreas Antonopoulos Talks Lightning Network, Its Progress And How It Is Different From The Bitcoin Network

Andreas Antonopoulos is a well-known Bitcoin proponent and also the author of “Mastering Bitcoin.” In his recent video Antonopoulos talks about the most debated topic in recent times, the scalability issues faced by the Bitcoin network and what Lightning network (LN) brings to the table. He also explained the difference between the lightning network and the main Bitcoin blockchain.

Bitcoin is undoubtedly the crypto king, be it in terms of price, daily trading volume or driving the market sentiments, however after a decade time of existence, Bitcoin is facing a very crucial scalability problem which can peg it behind in the race to become the ultimate digital currency of future. The network is undoubtedly fast when compared to traditional payment systems, but it is quite slow when compared with other altcoins.

To give you perspective, a heavy transaction on traditional portals like Visa and Mastercard can take anywhere from 3-5 days, while the same transaction can be completed using the Bitcoin network in 4860 seconds, which is quite fast, but when you compare it with a network like Ripple which takes a mere 4 seconds, Bitcoin's transaction processing time looks quite slow.

In order to help Bitcoin scale in accordance with the new blockchain networks, an off-chain solution in the form of the lightning network was proposed, which would take away a lot of load from the main network and help it scale better. However, LN has been quite controversial up until now despite many Bitcoin proponents have called it the magic wand which would solve most of Bitcoin's scalability issue, the early adopters have claimed otherwise with many calling it to be technically complex and inadequate for large scale use.

Antonopoulos is one such Bitcoin proponent who has often been seen promoting the LN, recently he also made a video where he explained the main differences between Bitcoin network and the lightning network. Apart from that he also claimed that the Lightning network is doing spectacularly well.

Differences Between Bitcoin Network And The Lightning Network

Antonopoulos was asked whether the LN and Bitcoin mainnet is same and works on the same blockchain model, to which Antonopoulos noted that the LN is not a blockchain, but more of a string of smart contracts exchanged between the parties. He explained,

“In case of the lightning network, the smart contracts are basically signed BTC transactions or LTC transactions. Participants in the network exchange signed BTC transaction and one important thing to note is that the transactions do not occur on the Bitcoin blockchain. The LN is different from the BTC blockchain as it is a layer on top of the BTC blockchain and other blockchains.”

The transactions on the LN has basically a signed BTC smart contracts which get verified instantly. The LN is an off-chain second layer solution which provides better scalability with the security of the underlying Bitcoin network. Antonopoulos suggest that small transactions can be verified and credited almost instantly, and the network has the capability to scale to a bigger extent.

The Bitcoin proponent also explained how users can make the best use of the LN and participate in the network practically. He said,

“Actually there are a number of ways that users can participate and it does not always involve a node creation step. The best way is obviously creating a node but that might be technically difficult for some users as they have to run a full BTC node and then run the LN on top of it. Maybe in the future, there will be a lightweight blockchain that will be easier to run but then again that will take time.”

Antonopoulos also suggested that the users looking to make use of the LN must go for desktop wallets like ZAP which are Lightning network compatible, since running a full node might not be practical at this point in time as it requires the users to first install a full Bitcoin node and then install the Lightning network node on top of it, which might take a significant space in the user's hard disk in the range of 150 GB to 250 GB.

Antonopoulos Believe The Lightning Network Is Performing Exceedingly Well

It has been quite common for Bitcoin proponents to promote the use of Lightning Network, even though not many agree with them. Antonopoulos being a Bitcoin bull himself, says that Lightning network is not just doing fine, but its performance has been spectacularly well. When he was asked whether the developers behind the network have conducted any recent tests to check if its good for customer use and satisfaction, to which Antonopoulos said that no such test has been conducted as users have been running the LN since January 2018 on the production network.

He also explained the statistical details of the network and why there haven't been any test runs,

“There are almost 6000 nodes involved in the Lightning network with a capacity if $4 million. There is no one-off test for the LN and I will assure you, since Jan of last year, the network has been running spectacularly. What surprises a lot of people is the sheer speed of transactions on the Lightning network. When a user presses the button to authenticate the transactions on their mobile phone, the speed is such that the transaction will have settled in the receiver wallet by the time you look back at your mobile screen. Users also have to understand that it is still a learning stage and it is being set up well for future cases.”

The Role Of Lightning Torch Movement

Lightning torch movement was initiated by another Bitcoin proponent Hodlonaut, where he added 10,000 Satoshis on the LN and then nominated others to follow the same, and the movement has garnered some great media coverage and many well-known personalities including Twitter CEO Jack has been a part of it.

Antonopoulos suggested that the Lightning torch movement was actually aimed at testing the user nodes and wallet setup for the users. He went on to add that anyone can participate in the Lightning torch movement to understand how Lightning network's node and wallet strategy works. He explained,

“The entire point of the lightning torch process is to test the strength and capacity of the network itself. Suppose I send you some money over the LN, instead of keeping it, you add a bit of your own money [maybe a couple of SATs] and then send it to another trusted person. Gradually this process will become more and more difficult and once the $4 million capacity is reached, it becomes almost impossible to continue the transactions as there are very few nodes present that can take that much capacity.”

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