Written in front: The original author is Roy Sheinfeld, co-founder and CEO of Lightning Network client Breez. In this article, he reviews the significant progress made by Lightning Network in 2019 and proposes that this technology will be coming in 2020. Some functions implemented.
The following is the translated content:
Another year is about to pass. For those of us who study the Lightning Network, the change is too fast, and it will pass in a blink of an eye. Yes, it is like lightning.
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Picture from: https://www.reddit.com/r/gifs/comments/3hqdui/pretty_cool_lightning_strike/
In the past 12 months, so many things have happened in the field of Lightning Network research, and many new innovations have emerged, which makes it easy for us to forget the fact that "Lightning Network is not yet mature". We still have a lot to do, to learn and to discover.
So let's take a minute to review what we have achieved in the past year. This may give us insight into what will happen in the future, at least it reminds us to redouble our efforts.
In 2019, the most shocking innovations in Lightning Network research are:
1. Realization of Lightning Network mobile client through neutrino
In physics, neutrinos are uncharged neutral elementary particles, and they are so light that they are difficult to detect (although they have been everywhere). In the language of the Lightning Network, neutrino combines the speed of the Lightning Network with all the energy and security of the entire blockchain, so that users do not have to run full nodes or trust the Electrum server. Best of all: its "weight" is light enough that users can operate on their mobile devices and let them use Bitcoin anytime, anywhere.
We believe that neutrino technology is the best way to bring Lightning Network to mobile devices, which is why Breez's Android and iOS clients choose to implement it based on neutrino.
It is worth mentioning that neutrino technology has been continuously optimized, and other Lightning Network clients are also adopting it, such as Zap and Nayuta wallets. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Lightning Labs for bringing neutrino to the Lightning Network.
2.Simplify channel management
If you want to join the Lightning Network, downloading the Lightning Network client is only the first step. New users will not connect to the rest of the network before opening the payment channel, and the transaction counterparties are not all equal (some people will be better than others People have more relationships, that is, some channels are more mobile than others). And when there are thousands of nodes to choose from, how can new users choose a counterparty for their first payment channel wisely?
In the past year, they have two options:
"Pilot" is an algorithm, he will complete the navigation task! (Source: PDV)
- The first is autopilot : autopilot is a feature built into the Lightning Network Daemon (lnd) that helps new users choose nodes. To be more specific, it uses a series of heuristics to evaluate available nodes. This helps new users choose counterparties, but they need to send some funds before using this feature;
- The second option is to use LSP : LSP is a plug and play solution that connects to the Lightning Network. Helping Lightning Network users achieve and maintain connections is the entire task of an LSP. Some also provide additional services, such as providing users with instant inbound mobility, maintaining connections with other LSPs to provide reliable routing, and reconnecting with other LSPs. Balance to ensure that payments move freely between these LSPs;
In general, Autopilot is a feature that helps novices try the Lightning Network, and a good LSP can also do this, and even more, from the initial set of support to providing users with fine-grained Customization options. As we approach the large-scale lightning network economy, LSPs will become more and more indispensable for individual users and the entire cryptocurrency system.
3. On-chain and off-chain transfer using Submarine Swaps
We know that there is a gap between the Bitcoin mainnet and the Lightning Network, and changing the number of Bitcoins on a Lightning Network payment channel usually means closing the channel and reopening it with a new balance, which is like any other bit Coin mainnet transactions are also slow and expensive.
Submarine Swaps allows Lightning Network users to transfer funds between payment channels and on-chain wallets without having to close and reopen channels. In fact, from the user's perspective, the Submarine Swaps technology reduces the gap between the Bitcoin mainnet and the Lightning Network layer.
Always pay attention to the interval, or use Submarine Swaps technology. (Source: Jordan Hatcher)
2019 is an important year for Submarine Swaps technology. Several Lightning Network mobile clients have directly integrated this technology, and they can promote many businesses. Lightning Labs has even released Lightning Loop : a service that implements Submarine Swaps technology, which is now ready.
Here are two client examples: Muun is an on-chain Bitcoin wallet using Submarine Swaps technology, which allows users to make Ad-Hoc (point-to-point) payment through the Lightning Network, although only the balance on the chain is displayed . Breez , strictly speaking, is an off-chain Lightning Network client. It uses Submarine Swaps technology to allow users to charge funds into the Lightning Network payment channel through an on-chain wallet. Each of these two methods has a balance.
If someone tries to deceive their adversaries by publishing outdated channel states, a mechanism built into the Lightning Network will punish cheaters. But what if the scammed party goes offline for any reason and their client cannot monitor their channel activity?
Starting from version 0.7, lnd supports a feature called Watchtower. The Watchtower is basically just a third-party node, and the user delegates the responsibility of monitoring its channel activities to this node to prevent despicable behavior.
With the introduction of the Watchtower feature this year, individual user channels and the entire Lightning Network have become more secure. Moreover, since the Watchtower only receives transaction information (in case of actual fraud attempts), this sacrifices a small portion of privacy in exchange for higher security.
The watchtower is both practical and beautiful (Image: Amjad Sheikh)
5.Interoperability of fiat currency and lightning network
At present, around 90 trillion US dollars of fiat currency flows around bank accounts and people's pockets. For new users of Lightning Network, what they need is a convenient and secure way to convert their fiat currency into Bitcoin. .
One year ago, users of the Lightning Network needed to go through a centralized exchange, first go through KYC, then exchange bitcoin with fiat currency, and finally refer it to the Lightning Network Wallet. This process is obviously very tedious.
In the past year, the interoperability of fiat currency and Lightning Network has been greatly improved. Users can use services such as Olympus / Zap, Sparkswap or Escher, and the process has been greatly simplified.
6.Incentive users to adopt Lightning Network
Bitcoin is not just the best cryptocurrency yet, it is also a brand. Not only do people buy branded goods, they also recognize them and integrate them into their self-image. This makes it very difficult to motivate people to change, including the change from fiat to bitcoin. You have to give them something worth changing.
Some apps have begun using Bitcoin to reward users for certain activities, such as Fold. Casa's Sats app is a bit different. It focuses on the web, not the purchase. Specifically, when a user connects an application to their own node and proves that their node is active, Casa offers a reward to the user.
This type of rewards program is a great way to accelerate Lightning Network adoption. The Casa model, in the process, strengthens the network infrastructure.
7. Lightning Network Application (Lapp)!
As applications become more and more common in our daily lives, it is only a matter of time before they penetrate into the Lightning Network. Although the name of the Lightning Network Application (Lapp) is quite old, they are already common and some Very useful.
In essence, Lapp is an application built on the Lightning Network protocol, and people can customize it according to specific use cases. For example, Paywall.Link can help content creators create a Lightning Network paywall, and then realize creative monetization. Sats 4 Likes allows users to realize the profit of social media operations such as likes and subscriptions through the Lightning Network.
We've been wondering if it's possible that the Lightning Network is waiting for a killer application to promote mass adoption. Maybe this killer app will appear on Lapps that have nothing to do with the original purpose of the Lightning Network. It is a way to liquefy Bitcoin. For example, as a personal information technology , video game platform , or like reddit that can earn bitcoin . The spread of Lightning Network as a payment network may depend on the auxiliary uses of these Lapps.
For more ideas, you can check out this Lapp list .
8.Better user experience with lnurl
Although Lightning Network has made great strides, its user experience is still sometimes terrible. For example, receiving funds from a Lapp requires the user to manually create a Lightning Network invoice and then copy / paste it back to the Lapp to withdraw funds. Other operations, such as opening an access channel, may be more complicated.
This problem has always plagued users. But the recent appearance of lnurl is to solve this pain point! lnurl adds an additional layer on top of the Lightning Network protocol, which in some cases simplifies the Lightning Network user experience. You can now withdraw funds from Lapp without copy / paste operation, just click the link or scan the QR code. In the past year, many Lightning Network clients and Lapps have added the lnurl function. The same is true for opening channels. Using the lnurl channel subprotocol, like using services like Bitrefill Thor or LNBig.com, makes it easier for users to use their channel services.
9. Looking forward to 2020, Lightning Network will achieve a new breakthrough!
Take a break and take a deep breath. There is a lot to digest.
But there is more to come.
A few months ago, we predicted that the next wave of LSPs would consist of exchanges. Well, Bitfinex has just taken the first step in this direction. Last week, they announced their support for Lightning Network Payment .
And next year, more innovations will emerge:
- Atomic multi-path payment (AMP) divides the payment into chunks, which allows multiple routing options from sender to receiver. The results of it? All balances of users on all channels can be grouped for single payment. Channel capacity becomes less important and routing choices increase exponentially.
- Speaking of channel capacity, the Wumbo channel will completely eliminate the current channel limit of 0.167 BTC : if both parties agree on either end of the payment channel, they can bring the channel capacity to the highest level they want (that is, there is no limit);
- Trampoline routing is set to simplify routing by eliminating the network diagram of mobile clients. Unlike calculating the route from scratch, the client only needs to connect to a reliable Trampoline node, which then forwards the payment from the Trampoline node to the next Trampoline node until it reaches its intended recipient node.
- Asynchronous payment via Lightning Rod ( Lightning Rod ), a method invented by Breez that allows people to send and receive Lightning Network payments when they are free (even if one of them is offline).
- Lightning Network will add messaging capabilities : the integration of secure, private messaging and a robust payment platform is a good solution for many practical applications.
Watching Lightning Network grow up step by step, it ’s like watching a child. While you are full of pride, you also want it to be a little slower so that you can taste more. Lightning Network is a A genius boy with the potential to move mountains.