Two years ago, in a professional financial sphere it was believed that bitcoin is doomed, but blockchain is exciting. A great number of thriving time-proven financial and banking companies launched their blockchain pilot projects and opened a lot of blockchain-related vacancies. Nevertheless, for some companies working on bitcoin software like Lightning Labs headed by Elizabeth Stark as a CEO, this idea has never been an axiom. And nowadays, after the skyrocketing prices for bitcoin, ether, ripple, litecoin and other virtual assets that we had an opportunity to observe in December, 2017, the public’s attention once again was turned toward cryptocurrencies themselves.
Elizabeth Stark shared with Yahoo Finance her vision on these changes in perception: “When we first pitched my company Lightning Labs, we actually took the word ‘bitcoin’ out of our deck and our marketing material because it was so much about blockchain. Now, I feel like we’ve entered into a ‘bitcoin, not blockchain’ world, where people understand the value of cryptocurrency technology and what these can bring. You also have proof of work in bitcoin, you have the public/private key cryptography. There are other things that make bitcoin special. Somehow, the blockchain part got separated and became a thing.”
Lightning is an open protocol layer that is built on top of the bitcoin protocol. It ensures faster and cheaper transactions, thanks to the off-blockchain payments. We can say it in other worlds: while on a blockchain, which is a decentralized peer-to-peer ledger, all the transactions should be verified by thousands of computers, on Lightning, transactions verification is conducted off-chain between the participants of this transaction. In the case of verification procedures on Lightning, they rely on blockchain only for security reasons if something goes wrong. In the Bitcoin Lightning Network white paper that was published in 2015 the project was described as “scalable off-chain instant payments.”
In March, Lightning Labs launched the beta of its Lightning software, LND, and it was the first so much-anticipated live software release for the Lightning protocol. Thanks to this step, now users are able to enjoy transferring bitcoin and litecoin to other users without settling those transactions on the blockchain. Currently, developers are hardly working on introducing apps for Lightning (called “Lapps”). Among their cutting-edge ideas is an ice cream delivery LDN service and many other projects.
Moreover, before the launch of Lightning software beta version, Lightning Labs launched their Lightning Desktop Wallet and provided their users with a possibility to get preliminary familiarized with their network. But after the network was launched Lightning Lab has joined their wallet with another wallet Zap, which has made the Lightning Network more accessible to the wide audience.
And Lightning Labs are not going to stop. Speaking about their future plans, Ms. Stark said: “There’s all sorts of things that can be done when you have instant, high volume. We’re talking many thousands of transactions per second, one day maybe even millions per second… Bitcoin at its base layer can’t do that. But Lightning, because it’s this layer on top of it, can. We want to go even beyond that.”