The number of Bitcoins [BTC] on the Lightning Network is nearing 100 BTC, with a gradual growth over the last month. The capacity of the network has almost doubled, from 55 BTC at the beginning of July, to 97 BTC at press time. It also saw a spike up to almost 120 BTC while Andreas Brekken was testing the technology.
The number of open channels on the network also doubled, from around 55,000 channels at the beginning of July to upwards of 11,000 open channels currently. This also signifies the growth of adoption of the Lightning Network, as more applications are found for it.
Bitcoin has long struggled with scalability, with many proposing that the block size should be increased in order to allow for more transactions to be processed. While that seems to be a stopgap solution for many due to space concerns, many proposed that the solution was to build Level-2 scaling solutions. These are architectures built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, and the Lightning Network is one of them.
The Lightning Network lets nodes on the Bitcoin blockchain open up payment channels, which are then registered as a transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain. A practically unlimited amount of transactions can be processed through this channel, with the changes reflected after the channel is closed. Upon closing, the transactions are added to the next block.
This effectively allows for low fee transfer of even minute payments, opening up the route for zero-fee payments and other such applications. However, the amount of Bitcoin that can be held on the Lightning Network is determined by the number of nodes on the network.
Recently, Andreas Brekken, the CEO of shitcoin.com, tested out the Lightning Network for a variety of use-cases. In a 4-part review series, he came to the conclusion that the LN is still developing. He stated:
“Sending payments using the Lightning Network is cheaper than the regular Bitcoin network, but suffers from routing errors and wallet bugs that make it impractical even for highly technical users.”
Naysayers of the Bitcoin Lightning Network state that closing all the channels at once will result in a spike in the transaction fee or some other negative event occurring. However, at the time Brekken closed his nodes, he had taken over close to 50% of the Lightning Network. On the experiment, he said:
“Operating the largest node on the Bitcoin Lightning Network has been educational, frustrating, fun, and at times terrifying. I look forward to trying it again once the technology matures.”