Bitcoin’s Lightning Network (LN) is showing signs of continued activity with node count and capacity increasing in the first six months of 2019.
Bitcoin Lightning Continues To Grow in 2019
The lightning network is a layer 2 solution that is aimed at solving the scalability issue of Bitcoin’s network. During peak times of activity the Bitcoin blockchain becomes congested due to the high number of on-chain transactions waiting to be confirmed. With the Lightning Network, users can settle transactions off-chain in a peer-to-peer manner. This brings lower transaction fees and faster settlement times for its users, and more importantly solves the scalability issue.
The Bitcoin Lightning Network debuted in January 2018 and registered a meteoric rise in network activity over the course of its first year, with many wondering if it will be able to sustain this growth and whether it will be widely adopted. The Lightning Network had also caught the eye of cryptocurrency enthusiasts, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who publicly endorsed the solution.
Since the start of the year, the Lightning Network’s expansion continued at an impressive pace, with network capacity almost doubling by June, according to statistics provided by Coin Gecko. The number of available nodes has also continued to grow from 2298 to 4576.
Lightning Not Failing
Since July, however, the numbers started to fall off, with capacity and the number of payment channels active on Lightning decreasing. While this might look like a deflation of network activity, it is not the case.
In a comprehensive Reddit post, user u/hotol explains that this is attributed to user behavior rather than users leaving the network. According to him, there have been some entities that opened payment channels to almost every active node on the Lightning Network over the course of 2018.
This was done to stimulate the network during its infant stage and allow new users to easily route their transactions. Subsequently, some of the channels that have been inactive or unnecessary have been closed by the big node operators.
According to the post, since Lightning is a peer-to-peer network, there could be activity that can’t easily be tracked by public resources.
The post concluded:
“LN network arguably has today much more public capacity than needed for me and you to make everyday payments. Real LN capacity is much higher than what 1ml.com reports due to private channels – and recently capacity has been migrating to private channels,
There is really nothing to see here, use LN and enjoy the only true P2P, instant and private payments in the crypto space.”
The Lightning Network remains the best solution to Bitcoin’s scalability issue, and while it’s mostly accessible to technically-proficient users, Bitcoin contributors are working to bring more user-friendly options.