Andreas Antonopoulos, a well-known Bitcoin proponent and the author of Mastering Bitcoin, spoke about the whether or not a Lightning network could face scaling problems, in his latest Q&A session on Youtube. He also spoke about whether SegWit was required on each chain for Lightning implemention.
The author started by elucidating on the Lightning Network as a second layer network. He stated that the technology is an overlay network that is made of a series of smart contracts within the Bitcoin network, allowing users to made hundreds of thousands of off-chain payments with anyone around the globe.
He added that the payments are private, fast and of low-cost because the on-chain network will be used only to open and close channels, resulting in a “much greater degree” of scalability of the Bitcoin blockchain. Antonopoulos went on to say that it will be “only used as the “judge” [in settlement]”.
This was followed by the Bitcoin proponent speaking about the possibility of scaling problem of if the payment channels become heavily loaded. He said:
“The amount of computation you need to calculate a hashed timelock contract… and route [through channels] is such that… If you have two Lightning nodes on a well-connected network, and exchange transactions between them… as fast as possible, you [could] do hundreds of thousands of [payments] per second. Transactions are only seen by [the nodes involved in a channel].”
Antonopoulos went on to say that there could be other nodes making hundred thousand payment per second or a hundred thousand nodes, with each making hundred thousand transactions to each other. However, he added that activity between two nodes in one channel does not really affect the rest of the network. He said:
“[…] so it decentralizes scaling. The Lightning Network is not only much more private, because these payments… on payment channels are not seen by anyone other than participating nodes, but it is much harder to censor because you don’t need a miner [to confirm them until settlement]. [Lightning is] also much faster and lower cost.”
Following this, the author spoke about whether it was necessary for every chain to execute SegWit to make Lighting compatible. SegWit aka Segregated Witness refers to a protocol upgrade that changes the way data is stored. This protocol was activated on both Litecoin and Bitcoin in early 2017. The main reason for the protocol’s inception was to fix a bug in the Bitcoin code, transaction malleability bug, allowing people to modify the subsequent hash.
He stated that the it is possible for a user to make a Lightning implementation without SegWit, however, it would be a “more complicated” process. This is because of the transaction malleability bug, as both the chains are required to have a transaction malleability fix even though it is not SegWit. He said:
“It could be a different transaction malleability fix. It is very difficult to implement Lightning securely on a chain that has a transaction malleability problem. SegWit fixed it on Bitcoin and Litecoin. On another chain, you might have a different fix. That would make Lightning possible.”
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