Lightning and Thunder: Blockchain.info Releases Alpha Version of Lightning Network’s Analogue

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16.05.2016
Blockchain.info, a company known mostly for an eponymous bitcoin wallet, has announced the release of Thunder Network in alpha, which is said to be the first implementation of Lightning Network protocol.

Thunder is an alternative network of nodes allowing for nearly instantaneous off-chain payments, which records them onto blockchain as needed.

“Today, we release the alpha version of our Thunder Network, the first usable implementation of the Lightning network for off chain bitcoin payments that settles back to the main bitcoin blockchain,” the company’s official blog post reads.

The developers believe a Lightning-like system will prove very interesting for users, as it would allow them to effect instant transactions previously unavailable in Bitcoin.

“A faster, cheaper, and more functional network would deliver real value to our users, so we were excited by the growth of research into payment channel technology on the bitcoin network and innovative uses of this technology. We were particularly interested in the idea of using smart contracts to build what are basically super-charged payments networks,” the same blog post elaborates.

Lightning Network solution has been more of a theory until recently. Blockchain.info has hired Mats Jerratsch last summer so that he would develop what is now known as Thunder Network in cooperation with blockchain.info’s engineers.

The company states they have tested the network a few days ago. They discovered that the blockchain.info’s solution based on Lightning Network may indeed service upwards of 100,000 transactions per second, which goes far beyond capabilities of traditional processing services like Visa.

However, not everyone agrees that Thunder Network is a full-fledged counterpart of Lightning Network. They say that lightning comes first anyway.

One of Lightning Network developers Olaoluwa Osuntokun commented:

“It’s worth noting that this isn’t the “first” implementation of Lightning as the blog post advertises. It’s a bit similar, but requires trust between the parties as it doesn’t currently utilize a fix for malleability. If this is currently being used on mainnet (although being an alpha it should probably only be used on testnet), then it doesn’t hold up in adversarial conditions, as either party can have their funds held hostage.”

In the light of bitcoin scalability issues, it is quite clear that the current state of affairs with bitcoin’s throughput cannot last forever. So, it’s quite likely that we’ll hear much more about Thunder Network, Lightning Network, and other scalability-oriented projects in no time.

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