While Ethereum has turned into the leader of smart contract technology, Bitcoin wallet service, Blockchain released the alpha version of their lightning network.

Popular blockchain explorer and wallet provider, Blockchain officially announced in a blog post that they have gained an interest in the Lightning Network by unleashing their Thunder Network’s alpha version to the public for off-chain or cross-blockchain transactions.

Peter Smith, co-founder of Blockchain, says:

“Thunder has the potential to facilitate secure, trustless, and instant payments. It has the ability to unleash the power of microtransactions, to allow the Bitcoin network to handle heavy loads, and to increase user privacy.”

Originally hosted as a test net, the alpha version offers support for both node hosting and a GUI wallet but also lower fees on the off-chain permissionless network and full encryption of communication between nodes and wallets.

Ultra-cheap transactions

Smith says:

“The most exciting part of the Thunder Network is the ability to make live, nearly instant, and ultra-cheap transactions which settle back to the Bitcoin blockchain. We have a lot of work to finish first, but the promise of faster and more affordable payments at scale is the mission.”

Smith also said that the Thunder Network offers an impressive 100,000 transactions per second, using only a few thousand nodes to help solve several of Bitcoin’s scalability problems which have resulted in occasional transaction gridlocks

Integrated with Bitcoin

On May 16, the first Thunder Network transaction took place between Smith and Mats, a Blockchain engineer. This transaction showed the possibility of integrating the Thunder Network into the existing Bitcoin blockchain so that there can be safe cross-chain payments with minimum delay at either end. So far, Blockchain has said that this version of the Thunder Network is still in its early stages and is best for transactions among trusted users and developers and that due to several risks such as loss of funds, users should not use Thunder for actual payments.