Nine developments, based on the performance of Lightning Network in a year, can you submit satisfactory answers?

In the past year, the Lightning Network has been developing non-stop. The Lightning Network is an ultra-high-speed payment layer on the Bitcoin blockchain, which allows users to send and receive Bitcoins quickly and at low cost.

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Ryan Gentry, an analyst at cryptocurrency investment firm MultiCoin Capital, said:

"Lightning Network has the first mobile wallet, held the first meeting, the first fiat currency exchange with the Lightning Network channel, and the first large exchange support. These are important milestones."

At the same time, Samson Mow, chief strategy officer of Canadian blockchain service provider Blockstream, is excited about the progress of multi-path payments.

It's easy to forget how far it has gone as the Lightning Network technology has gone mainstream, and it's still immature. So we should go back and review the achievements of last year.

The beginning of the Lightning Network

At the core of the Lightning Network is a decentralized system for instant and massive bitcoin micropayments-payments recorded on the network instantly can be as low as 1 Satoshi (valued at 0.0001 USD). It is considered by many Bitcoin enthusiasts to be the key to achieving Bitcoin expansion to support millions of payments and users every day.

Lightning Network was launched in 2018 and consists of channels. Users don't need to use the Bitcoin blockchain to verify transactions, they can transfer money to each other. Instead, at the seller's request, the buyer will quickly verify the funds so that the transaction can proceed normally, but the actual settlement will be completed later.

Mow says:

"For Lightning Network, 2019 is a year for developers to make great progress, and they make the foundation layer rock solid."

In the first 6 months of 2019, the number and capacity of Lightning Network nodes has doubled, making the network more robust. By September, the number of nodes on the network had reached 10,000. New tools, utilities, and user experience innovations are beginning to emerge. A lot of bugs were found and fixed here; people lost bitcoin on this network and found it back.

Torch relay

Last week, Blockstream announced that a patch to address one of Lightning Network's biggest problems is about to be released: sending larger payments through the network.

Mow said that testing for multipath payment interoperability is now complete. "Multipath payment allows multiple channels to operate simultaneously," he explained. This will allow payments to be split into smaller blocks so that large amounts of bitcoin can be sent out quickly and cheaply. Channel capacity becomes less important and routing options will multiply.

In March, the Lightning Network Torch began to travel around the world. In the process, the torch-a token payment of $ 100 in Bitcoin-was passed between people (including Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, and Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn), and each recipient added before 10,000 Satoshi. Although the experiment was hailed as a huge success-it broke the boundaries of Bitcoin payments, the network encountered liquidity issues within its channel, highlighting the challenges posed by larger payments.

This is why, for Mow, the progress made by multipath is "most important" for Lightning Network this year.

Lightning Network enters mobile devices

The Bitcoin blockchain has reached 250G, and it is still growing. This is beyond the processing capabilities of most phones-even the 1s "blockchain phone" of HTC Exodus needs to be plugged in and upgraded with a microSD card to run a full Bitcoin node. It is not convenient to carry the Bitcoin blockchain with you, so you need a wallet or an application on your phone to check Bitcoin transactions.

The Neutrino light client, or LND, provides access to a very basic version of the Bitcoin blockchain, but can obtain relevant blocks when data needs to be checked to keep data usage to a minimum.

This year, Breez, a Telco-based Bitcoin wallet and payment service provider, was the first to introduce a Neutrino-based client for its app for Android and iOS.

Breez co-founder Roy Sheinfeld said:

"We want Bitcoin to be accepted by the general public, but we don't want to lose Bitcoin's core value, which is that it is a decentralized platform and anti-censorship. In fact, we can do so without compromising privacy or security, Bringing the Lightning Network to mobile devices with Neutrino is a huge improvement for me. "

Other Lightning Network clients are adopting Neutrino, including Zap and Nayuta. With the release of the mobile version of tippin.me, the Lightning Network micropayment platform, in September, it became easier to send bitcoin rewards on Twitter.

Lightning Network accelerates fiat and bitcoin exchange

One year ago, users of Lightning Network had to exchange fiat currency to Bitcoin through an exchange. After all the troubles of KYC, they deposited their bitcoin into an on-chain wallet and then transferred it to an off-chain Lightning Network wallet.

In the past year, the function of fiat currency to directly exchange bitcoin on the Lightning Network platform has made rapid progress. Services such as Olympus, Sparkswap, and Escher from wallet developer Zap have established a fast channel for Lightning Network. Users can purchase bitcoin in fiat currency and deposit it directly into their own Lightning Network channel.

In August this year, department store Pricerite started accepting bitcoin payments at its new concept store at the MegaBox Shopping Centre in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong. The company converts cryptocurrency payments into Hong Kong dollars in real time at its cash register. According to Pricerite, with the Lightning Network now, this can be done in seconds.

Versatile Lightning Network Service Provider

To use Lightning Network, users must open a payment channel with counterparty nodes. But how do you choose from thousands of nodes? Some nodes are more connected, and some nodes have better channel liquidity.

To simplify channel management, this year, developers at Lightning Labs used Autopilot, which is a helpful tool for starting the Lightning Network. It uses heuristics to help new users select nodes and is built into the protocol.

Another easy way to connect to the network is through Plug and Play Lightning Service Providers (LSPs), which have made their mark this year. Services offered by Thor like Breez, LightningTo.Me, LNBIG.com, and Bitrefill include custom options, instant liquidity, strong connectivity with other LSPs to enable effective routing options, and even rebalance payment options with other LSPs to ensure Pay for free movement.

Lightning Network's Submarine Swaps

This year is an important year for Submarine Swaps, which makes the jump between the Bitcoin blockchain and payment channels much easier. They allow Lightning Network users to transfer funds between the payment channel and their on-chain wallet without having to close and reopen the channel.

In 2019, multiple mobile versions of Lightning Network Clients have deployed Submarine Swaps directly, so functions like recharge payment channels have become easier.

This year, Lightning Labs also released Lightning Loop: a ready-to-use Submarine Swaps service. It allows users to receive increasing amounts of Bitcoin without having to close and restart new payment channels.

Submarine Swaps can now be performed on-chain (such as with a Munn wallet) or off-chain with Breez. Breez allows users to recharge their Lightning Network payment channel from an on-chain wallet.

Build a Lightning Network Watchtower

Watchtowers have emerged this year-users have commissioned third-party nodes to monitor their channel activities.

The Lightning Network protocol has a built-in mechanism to punish those who try to deceive trading parties by publishing outdated channel status. However, until this year, if the scammed party goes offline, or their client does not monitor their channel activity, there is no recourse.

Watchtowers ensure that users' access and the entire network are more secure. Since they only receive transaction data in the event that fraud is found, the added privacy cost of the added security is not high.

New tools and plugins for making Lapp

Decentralized applications (Lapps) of the Lightning Network are spreading.

There are currently two popular Lapps, one is Paywall.Link, which provides a Lightning Network Paywall for content creators, who can get paid for contributing blogs and other content. The other is Sats 4 Likes. Users can buy fans or likes in exchange for Satoshi on Lightning Network. Nowadays, people can even order pizza through the Lightning Network using the Fold web app.

With new tools and plugins, creating Lapps is also easier: This year, a seven-year-old (and his dad) developed a zombie hunting game that can be paid with the Bitcoin Lightning Network.

In February of this year, Blockstream released a new version of the code, which provides developers with an interface and plug-ins, so that they can build their own functions in Blockstream's open source software c-lightning.

Mow says:

"For Blockstream's c-lightning, 2019 is the year of plugins, and Rusty Russell and his team have turned everything into modular and customizable."

That upgrade also introduced innovations such as monitoring tools that work with the nodes to check if the nodes are active. There is also a "probe" plugin that can randomly detect lightning network nodes on the network, determine their response, and determine the health of the network.

Fold and Casa inspire Lightning Network users

Companies that partner with Lightning Network are starting to inspire users to ensure network security and attract new users.

Through the Lightning Network, Fold has enabled the Bitcoin payment function, and users who spend on its mobile app on Amazon, Starbucks, Uber and other platforms can receive Bitcoin rewards.

Hardware maker Casa released the second generation of Bitcoin and Lightning Network nodes in October.The setup is very simple and requires no expertise. Users can get rewards after verifying the blockchain, thereby enhancing their decentralization and security. .

In the same month, Casa also released a supporting application, the Sats App, which allows users to send and receive Bitcoin; it also rewards users who participate in network activities, such as connecting the app to their own nodes, proving that it is active.

User-friendly Lightning Network

In the past, the user experience of Lightning Network was problematic, but this has made significant progress last year. Protocols such as lnurl introduced in January help simplify the user experience of Lightning Network; Inurl simplifies the communication process between Lightning Network Wallet and third-party services (such as using channel services).

For example, users can now withdraw funds from Lpp by simply clicking a link or scanning a QR code, instead of manually creating a Lightning Network invoice as before.

Clients and Lapps are accelerating the adoption of this protocol, so Lightning Network will definitely become more and more useful.

It will even get busier, no doubt. This year's progress has been shocking, with developers like Sheinfeld showing no sign of relaxation.

"We want to reduce complexity and make this a seamless experience, just like the Internet. We want to change the world."