Blockchain, the world’s leading provider of Blockchain tools and software, has announced that the first usable implementation of the Lightning network, Thunder, has been released as an alpha.
Lightning networks, as explained on the Lightning Network webpage, are dependent upon the underlying technology of the blockchain.
By using real Bitcoin/Blockchain transactions and using its native smart-contract scripting language, it is possible to create a secure network of participants which are able to transact at high volume and high speed.
Essentially, they are designed to reduce the volume on the Bitcoin blockchain by transferring transactions, and microtransactions in particular to a sidechain that syncs with the main blockchain at regular intervals.
Thunder alpha release
In this alpha release, Blockchain’s implementation of the Lightning network, Thunder has both a node and a wallet present. Blockchain also claims that the network can achieve “better-than-Visa scale (100,000 TPS) with only a few thousand nodes.”
According to Blockchain.com, Lightning networks have been purely conceptual until now. With the release of the alpha version of Thunder Network, the company makes it the first usable implementation of the Lightning network for off chain bitcoin payments that settles back to the main Bitcoin blockchain.
Thus, Thunder has the potential to “facilitate secure, trustless and nearly instant payments, unleash the power of microtransactions, allow the network to handle heavy loads, and increase user privacy.”
Blockchain also says that, due to the free market in an open and permissionless network, fees will be significantly lower than with on-chain payments. In addition, for those interested in security, Blockchain encrypts all communications between nodes and wallets using AES-CTR and only allows them to take place after completing authentication.
Thunder is said to relay payments over multiple nodes in the network automatically, using encrypted routing, which basically means that no one knows who made a payment, allowing for more privacy.
Mats Jerratsch says about the release:
“Off-chain payment networks are, at this point, highly experimental. However, it’s important to begin these projects and collaborate with the community, because our ability to scale bitcoin or another virtual currency depends on a launch and learn approach.”
Blockchain CEO Peter Smith concluded by saying:
“Blockchain is committed to bringing our blockchain technology and the power of open finance to every corner of the world. This release takes us one step closer to realizing that ambition.”
Transactions not currently enforceable
However, one very important note is that until both CSV and SegWit are implemented on the Bitcoin blockchain, transactions are not enforceable at the bitcoin protocol level.
Therefore, Blockchain says that “the current Thunder prototype is best suited for transactions among a trusted network of users and should not be used for real payments.”