The end-to-end Lightning micropayment transaction test shows to the Bitcoin community that it is possible to perform payments on a public Blockchain, says Christian Decker, a developer with Montreal-based Blockstream on the significance of the exercise.

Decker says:

“The test has uncovered a number of bugs, that were quickly fixed, and has shown that it is indeed feasible to perform payments on a public Blockchain.”

Blockstream had announced that it sent the first end-to-end transaction over the Lightning Network to another party through a process that included invoicing a party for Bitcoin and routing the payment through multiple nodes.

To test the impending prototype, which also shows that Lightning is progressing from the concept stage toward implementation, the team set up a web server to create invoices for test Bitcoin payments over the Lightning network, and in return to offer a cat, or at least an ASCII cat picture.

Real Blockchain test

Decker stated in an email: “It is the first test of a secure lightning implementation on a real Blockchain. We have taken our implementation which was so far tested in the controlled environment of a local Regtest network and tested it on the public Testnet. It is an end-to-end test in the sense that we have set up a fictional vendor, played by Rusty, and a buyer, me, and ran through the entire process of invoicing, performing the transfer and releasing the bought item.”

This is a big step towards achieving the goal to see Lightning being deployed and actively used, he said, adding that the team is planning to release version 0.5 soon. It could be the first version that people can test on their own with the hope that everybody will set up small shops on Testnet like the team did with the funny cat server, to gather experience running lightning.

Decker added: 

“We have a small lightning implementer meeting discussing the protocol following the scaling Bitcoin conference this weekend, and we'd like to hammer out the details for a standardized protocol, that we all agree on and that allows implementations to interoperate. These under-the-hood changes will likely be implemented for the 0.6 release, so that might not add many new user visible features.”

Open code

He also explained that for a deployment on Mainnet, they need to wait for Segwit to be activated - which should be the last hurdle - though with the hope have gathered enough experience running on Testnet that can be deployed to Mainnet quickly by then. 

Like many of the other lightning implementations, the code is developed openly and for everyone’s participation on Github. Though not the easiest system to set up right now, Decker said work is ongoing to make it easier.