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Lightning Network – A Potential Solution To Blockchain Scalability Issue?

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Introduction

Cryptocurrencies that were in the boom a few years back are still in the business, and it is believed that their decentralized blockchain technology will keep them alive for a very long time.

The transactions on credit cards and debit cards are different from that of transactions on cryptocurrencies. VISA (a payment provider) processes about 4,000 transactions per second. In fact, it has a capacity of 65,000 transactions to process per second. But, a typical Bitcoin Blockchain, on the other hand, can process only up to seven transactions per second with a block size of 2MB. Hence, there is a clear issue of scalability. Also, the Bitcoin transaction costs are pretty high when compared to other traditional transaction methods. Thus, to solve this issue, the ‘Lightning Network’ technology came into existence.

What is the Lightning Network technology, and why do we need it?

The Lightning Network technology is a system that is used to process a transaction instantly. This technology was developed to send and receive payments instantly without any hassle and also to reduce transaction fees. In the next section, let’s see the backend of this technology.

Working of the Lighting Network Technology

⚡ A multi-signature wallet with some amount of Bitcoins is set up either by the sender or the receiver.

⚡ The public blockchain network keeps a record of the user’s wallet address and the balance sheet* (smart contract). This process is referred to as the payment channel.

*Balance sheet – An agreement that proves how much Bitcoin belongs to whom.

⚡ When the payment channel is wholly set, the parties can make any number of transactions without the involvement of the blockchain network.

⚡ On each transaction, the parties update their multi-signature wallet to keep track of how many Bitcoins were sent to whom.

⚡ So, basically, the balance sheet is the one that is always updated and not the blockchain network. A copy of this balance sheet is maintained by both parties.

⚡ Finally, when all the transactions are completed, the payment channel is closed. The most recent balance sheet is presented to the blockchain network for verification. And when the transaction is confirmed, the users receive their share of Bitcoins into their wallets.

The Interconnected Lightning Network

A great feature of the Lightning Network is the interconnection in the network. Let us understand this with an example. For instance, let’s say there is a payment channel between P1 and P2. And there is P3 who has a payment channel with P2. Now, if P3 wants to transact with P1, a separate channel need not be created between P3 and P1. P3 can send the coins to P2, and P2 can, in turn, send it to P1 and complete the transaction. Hence, making the Lightning Network interconnected.

The Present and Future

Presently, the proof-of-concept is being implemented on the Bitcoin Testnet. And an experimental implementation is being carried on the Bitcoin Mainnet. In fact, this technology has come into the real world in a few countries, and it ought to grow in the coming years. That’s about Lightning Network and its working. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below. Cheers!

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