Lightning Network Still Failing to Spark in Scaling and Privacy 


The Lightning Network on Bitcoin was heralded as being a potential game changer for the cryptocurrency that has predominantly become a store of value. It was intended to allow users to spend and send Bitcoin instantly and with barely any fees as an off-chain scaling solution. 

However, still very much in its experimental stage, research has shown that currently the Lightning Network is still having problems around its privacy and scalability as proven by the high numbers of non-cooperative channel closures. These closures happen when a Lightning Network node initiates the closure of a payment channel without directly communicating with the node that the channel is linked to.

BitMEX has published a report that looked into the growth of the network and came up with higher than expected non-cooperative channel closures which they determined to be a sign of lower than expected privacy and scalability benefits. 

Slow start to Lightning

There is no doubting that the Lightning network still has a long way to go before it can be considered full operational and usable by a large portion of the Bitcoin community. It is in an experimental phase, but its general growth and uptick has been conspicuously slow

In October last year, the network of the Lightning Network was shown to be reaching a plateau. It might have been an indicator that fewer people are using it as a payment method, but it was also theorized that the reason was an increase in private channels.

“There’s no way of knowing the capacity in the lightning network. We can only know the public channels capacity, not private,” Roy Sheinfeld, CEO of Breez told CoinDesk.

But, this slow start, and the higher than normal non-cooperative channel closures also go to prove that the network is not easy to use, and is not advancing in the field of user experience and applicability. 

More than double the numbers

The BitMEX report states that the team found that since the network started its activity about 60,000 of these non-cooperative channel closure transactions took place.

“The fact that non-cooperative closures are more common than many thought, means the privacy and scalability benefits of lightning are lower than many expected too. However, as users learn more about how to use the lightning network and lightning wallets improve, the prevalence of non-cooperative closures could fall,” the report read.

Darryn Pollock
Darryn has been interested in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space since he heard about Bitcoin in 2015. He then decided to use his journalism degree to report on this fascinating fintech space in 2016, and has not looked back since.

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