Bitcoin’s Fledgling Lightning Network Now Has Over 7,000 Open Channels

Lightning Network, the proposed layer-two scaling solution for Bitcoin, had its open channels count increase by more than 11,500 percent over the first half of 2018. LN still has a long ways to go before reaching full technical maturity, but its capacity seems set to continue growing considerably in the months ahead. 

Also see: Augur Criticized for Death, Assassination Markets

A Storm’s A-Coming

With half of 2018 now in the rearview mirror, the Lightning Network’s open channels swelled from just a few dozen to well over 7,000.

LN facilitates micropayments by creating a routing network comprised of bidirectional payment channels, i.e. open channels. Such a structure allows for many off-chain transactions to be conducted before these transactions are eventually settled on-chain.

Of course, the network will need to scale-up far beyond 7,000 channels in order to actualize its full throughput potential. But, per the comparison picture above, growth is already coming fast: LN circa January 2018 was but a speck compared against the network’s make-up as of July 2018.

The channel boom has coincided with a flurry of recent activity in the Lightning ecosystem. For example, back in March 2018, v0.4.2-beta of the Lightning Network Daemon (LND) was released. The update enacted a slew of LND fixes, such as to HTLC routing, private channel invoicing, and other similar user-experience boosting touch-ups.

The collaborative artboard LApp has also brought a wave of new activity to LN, showing the kind of microtransactions that are possible via the in-progress scaling solution. Based on users’ feedback, the artboard has also directly led to a series of performance patches for LN.

Lopp Makes a Capacity Bet

Presently, the total capacity of the Lightning Network is ~$915,900 USD, which is roughly equivalent to 11,333,000 satoshis or 113 BTC.

Casa engineer Jameson Lopp sees that capacity reaching past 1,000 BTC in the near future. In a quick Twitter thread on u/Joohansson’s LN timeline comparison, Lopp bet the network’s capacity cracked that 1,000 BTC milestone before the end of 2018.

If such growth comes to be, it would mark a 10-times increase from LN’s current capacity in just under six months. Whether LN can keep its current rapid pace of evolution going into 2019, 2020, and beyond will certainly be a thread to keep an eye on going forward.

What’s your take? How should Bitcoin be scaled? Off-chain, on-chain, or a combination of both? Let us know where you stand in the comments below. 

Images via u/Joohansson, Pixabay

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