A Radical change for Bitcoin is coming
The “Lightning Network” (LN) is now in the final phase of beta testing
This major upgrade could forever change Bitcoin’s fate in the payments world. For a digital coin that was launched with the primary purpose of replacing fiat currency, slow transaction speeds and high fees diminished its true utility. Part of the problem was aggravated by politics within the developer community.
Recall that the Lightning Network could not be implemented on Bitcoin until Bitcoin adopted “Segregated Witness” (SegWit). Mind you, SegWit was the bone of contention that led to the split of Bitcoin. Disagreement over this upgrade gave birth to a Bitcoin clone, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) or (BCC)
But now that Bitcoin has endorsed the SegWit soft fork and is improving its scalability issues, it has paved the way for the LN’s smooth implementation. Bitcoin may reclaim its status as the true leader of cryptographic digital payments once the LN goes into effect.
This upgrade will make a difference on two ways.
First, it will present us with another technology: “atomic swaps.” This technology is an easy, cost-efficient, one-stop service for converting Bitcoin to any cryptocurrency and vice versa. Atomic swaps would make Bitcoin fungible, just like fiat money.
Second, the LN will speed up transactions to nearly match the speed of light (hence the name Lightning Network). Millions of transactions will be processed within seconds. For a platform like Bitcoin that takes hours, sometimes days, to verify one transaction, the LN may be the silver bullet to solve all its problems.
The Lightning Network is almost 89% complete as of today’s update on GitHub. What’s interesting, however, is that, while it’s still in its beta phase, over 1,000 Lightning Network nodes have already become active on its network.
What this simply means is that over 1,000 wallets have sent and received money using the LN while it’s still on the testnet. So, imagine how fast the community would grow once it’s available on the mainnet.
Looking at the LN’s progress, it’s safe to assume that the official release on the mainnet should be sometime later this year.