Lightning Network is almost ready

The startups behind the three most active Lightning implementations have revealed test results, including live transactions, proving their software is now interoperable.

The findings, released by ACINQ, Blockstream and Lightning Labs, effectively bring Lightning (the mechanism many see as the best solution for increasing bitcoin’s capacity) closer to public launch.

Firstly, the Lightning specifications, in progress since last September, have entered version 1. These describe the rules of the network, comparable to the standards that prop up the internet.

While that’s not to say the specifications won’t evolve over time, they’ve now been deemed good enough to support the first real Lightning Network.

According to the founder of ACINQ, Pierre-Marie Padiou:

“This is the Lightning standard we’ve been working on for more than year. There’s been a lot of work from us and from all participants. It’s a big milestone.”

Secondly, all the implementations have been shown to be compatible with one another, based on Blockstream engineer Christian Decker’s over 70 tests, which he put together over the summer.

And last, but not least, as displayed with the two live transactions, the three main implementations of Lightning are indeed interoperable, a piece of the puzzle that developers have been working on since last year.

“We’ve been able to make successful payments on the mainnet that goes all around the world, and which involves different compatible implementations,” Padiou said. “That’s kind of a big deal.”

While Lightning is still not ready for public use, Padiou emphasized that interoperability between the implementations is key to continuing development.

With the specifications complete, other developers now know what rules to implement to build their own Lightning networks. Bitcoin startup Blockchain’s Thunder Network and MIT’s Lit, for example, are two other well-known Lightning projects that could one day also implement the specifications.

 

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