Scaling Debate not Over yet

Despite recent rise in the use of Lighting Network (LN) as Bitcoin’s most prominent scaling plan, the debate over the limits on the amount of transactions the network can process has not be over.

Data from an explorer shows that LN’s capacity has passed 101 BTC with 3349 nodes contributing to it to form 12,015 channels in total as at the time of this writing. Also, with LN’s interoperability constraints with the main Bitcoin network likely to be addressed soon as the Submarine Swaps beta launches, the second layer protocol’s full deployment is going to make Bitcoin transactions trustless, fast and cheap on LN addresses. However, despite these projected feats, they are not enough to put the scaling debate aside.

Following his presentation at the Berlin Lightning Hackday, one of the Bitcoin researchers that have been working on the issue, Christian Decker, shares a view in this direction via email:

“I’m not sure the scaling debate is over, it certainly is far less heated at the moment. Scaling is not something that is ever really done, but we can certainly handle the load for the forseeable future. As for effects on the markets, I don’t presume I know how they’ll react, but I think overall it’s good news for the community.”

Why #LightningNetwork by @Snyke at #LightningHackday in #berlin.

— slush (@slushcz) September 1, 2018

At the event, real world business use cases were demonstrated including one that allows participants to use the protocol to pay their bills in seconds.

At #LightningHackday we created a spark as a service clightning node for ROOM77. Just bought a cola via #lightningnetwork. @Stadicus3000 paid for burger & drinks (no direct channel. Video proof coming) thx 2 @Blockstream & @shesek 4 providing great open source software #reckless

— Rene Pickhardt (@renepickhardt) September 1, 2018

While LN is a great way to save fees for repeat users and customers who want to use Bitcoin for their purchases, it is still in its beginning phases and it needs improvements. Yes, it creates a financial system that enables transactions of nearly any amount to be sent almost instantly for free and privately over any distance but it is just an already-functioning solution working to help Bitcoin scale and not a complete solution for it. LN can be easily changed if neccessary without affecting the Bitcoin protocol. It is a scaling solution that does not change the base layer. Put another way, LN is a progress for transaction speed which has been a major issue for Bitcoin adoption.

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