Chapter 17. Conclusion

In just a few years, the Lightning Network has gone from a whitepaper to a rapidly growing global network. As Bitcoin’s second layer, it has delivered on the promise of fast, inexpensive, and private payments. Additionally, it has started a tsunami of innovation, as it unleashes developers from the constraints of lockstep consensus that exist in Bitcoin development.

Innovation in the Lightning Network is happening in several different levels:

  • At Bitcoin’s Core protocol, providing use and demand for new Bitcoin Script opcodes, signing algorithms, and optimizations

  • At the Lightning protocol level, with new features deployed rapidly network wide

  • At the payment channel level, with new channel constructs and enhancements

  • As distinct opt-in features deployed end-to-end by independent implementations that senders and recipients can use if they want

  • With new and exciting Lightning Applications (LApps) build on top of the clients and protocols

Let’s look at how these innovations are changing Lightning now and in the near future.

Decentralized and Asynchronous Innovation

Lightning isn’t bound by lockstep consensus, as is the case with Bitcoin. That means that different Lightning clients can implement different features and negotiate their interactions (see “Feature Bits and Protocol Extensibility”). As a result, innovation in the Lightning Network is occurring at a much faster rate than in Bitcoin.

Not only is Lightning advancing rapidly, but it is creating ...

Get Mastering the Lightning Network now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.