One of the big doubts that stalked Bitcoin until 2018, was whether that cryptocurrency would be able to withstand mass adoption. Those fears stemmed from the poor scalability of the original Blockchain network of the digital currency. In this way, the future of Bitcoin was blurred and the possibility of mass adoption became an unrealizable dream.
It was in that scenario, when the savior appeared Lightning Network, the network that improves the main problems of Bitcoin. The scalability of the most important of the cryptocurrencies is so low, that it is barely able to process less than 7 transactions every second. If you compare it to VISA, the difference is obvious. Credit and debit card signing is capable of processing up to 50,000 transactions per second, although it currently processes about 2,000.
This poor scalability of the original Bitcoin Blockchain makes it uncompetitive to replace traditional money. Also, in times of high traffic, the network collapses, skyrocketing the value of transaction fees. This weakness with the little current use of the currency, presages the obstacles that could arise with a massive usability.
Why is Bitcoin’s future tied to Lightning Network?
You can imagine a future scenario, where Bitcoin is legal tender in most countries and with its original network. In that hypothetical scenario, people would dismiss cryptocurrency as an option because of high commission costs. The price, as a consequence, would collapse and the existence of the currency could be considered doomed.
In that sense, anyone is able to see from their own experience how inconvenient it is to use BTC for micro payments. When the price of the currency is in a period of high volatility, the network collapses because of the number of transactions in queue. With the increase in commissions that this generates, paying for a coffee or a bus ticket, is really harmful.
Thus, if the growing trend of Bitcoin usability continues, it will be mandatory to adopt extra technology that makes your network more capable. Precisely, that’s what the developers of Lightning Network. Without the use of this protocol, one cannot even think about the future of Bitcoin, let alone its adoption in densely populated countries.
It is not by chance that, in recent months, the number of Bitcoin nodes within LN, is rising sharply. Also, the volume of coins traded with this option continues to rise considerably. That shows that there is an expected migration from the original network to that protocol. This is a trend that will continue and that guarantees the continuity of the cryptocurrency.
This is how the usability of LN grows
If you want to have a clear idea of the advantages that LN offers for Bitcoin, you must analyze the characteristics of that network upgrade. Here are some of the advantages it offers Lightning unlike the qualities of the original Bitcoin Blockchain network:
- Instant payments: The speed of payments enters an unknown stage within the Bitcoin network. This is because it is no longer necessary to wait for popular confirmations from miners.
- Security: Although the Bitcoin Blockchain network has no security problems, LN adds some improvements, among which the creation of smart contracts stands out.
- Scalability improvements: From 7 or less transactions per second of the Bitcoin Blockchain network, with LN, tens of thousands can be processed in the same span of time.
- Low transaction fees: The absence of bottlenecks and the need for no confirmations, causes commissions to drop to a level close to zero.
A steady trend towards using the Lightning Network
As already highlighted, the future of Bitcoin and its massive use, depend on the migration of its users to Lightning Network. But how long will that process take? The answer to that question is simple. The process unfolds as the adoption of the pioneering cryptocurrency progresses.
In other words, the more popular Bitcoin is, the more people will want to use it. In this sense, these people will make the whole network need to vent to some extent. As a result, LN adoption grows in direct proportion to the ever-increasing use of Bitcoin.
According to the most recent data from the network, the number of Bitcoin nodes in LN, has doubled in less than a quarter. The last time the nodes were duplicated was within a year. By April, the number of nodes in LN was about 10,000. Now, the amount amounts to more than 22,000.
For its part, the blocked volume has grown by 20% within a month. From 1,158, the volume went to 1,821 BTC. The growth of the magnitude of migration to this network is only in its initial phase. That means that the growing trend makes forecast a great protagonism of Lightning Network in the massification and in the future of Bitcoin.
The problem of scalability
Scalability is one of the sharpest Achilles ‘ heels of cryptocurrencies. Experts say that it is not worked in isolation, but is closely linked to the security and decentralization of the Blockchain.
In simpler words, it is difficult to move one of these three functions without impacting the other two. This is the big problem, for example, of Ethereum, which they intend to correct with version 2.0 of their network. To date, despite all the updates to this Blockchain, scalability leaves much to be desired.
Bitcoin has an airtight Blockchain network and modifying some of these factors is complicated, so its future depends on external developments.
This is a dilemma that is difficult for developers to solve. For example, project managers based on security and decentralization might be forced to sacrifice these two factors to improve scalability. On the contrary, they would have to maintain a low quality of transactions in order to stay away from centralised entities.
The LN, explains its official document, impeccably solves all these factors, since it is external to the Bitcoin Blockchain.
Reviews of Ligthning Network
As is natural in any process of technological development, there are those who disagree with part or all of a novelty. Most of these criticisms of the network, focus on possible flaws that could put it in danger as the savior of Bitcoin’s future.
One of those problems, it focuses on security. LN transactions are not transmitted within the blocks of the Bitcoin network. They are made from the outside and then incorporated into the main chain. According to some analysts, this is a psychological obstacle.
The strength of tradition plays an important role for many people not feel comfortable wearing “second layers”. Certainly, a second layer is always less secure than the original Blockchain. However, it should be considered that LN is designed for micro payments. Therefore, there would be no point in a very well-crafted attack to appropriate a $30 transaction that was paid for a box of candy.