A version of bitcoin’s much-anticipated Lightning Network is eventually ready for real users.
Announced today, California startup Lightning Labs has officially launched a beta version of its software (LND), making available what investors and project leads say is the very first accurately tested version of the tech to date. This means that users can now leverage LND to send bitcoin and litecoin to other users, all without lodging those transactions on the blockchain.
While this software is one of several seeking to form a combined network that aims to make cryptocurrency transactions swifter and cheaper, today’s development effectively takes bitcoin a step closer to fresh kinds of applications, such spil Internet of Things payments and recurring billing.
That’s because, similar to bitcoin, the Lightning protocol isn’t managed by any one person or company. It’s a series of compatible technologies. Bitcoin-centric startups Blockstream and ACINQ have released software compliant with the candidate version 1.0 of the Lightning protocol specification released te January.
Still, the Lightning Labs software is believed to be the most mature software to date – and investors are using the launch to signal their rente.
Also exposed today, Lightning Labs has raised $Two.Five million from almost a dozen investors including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Square Capital executive Jacqueline Reses, litecoin creator Charlie Lee and former PayPal COO David Sacks.
While Dorsey and Reses declined to comment other than to confirm they invested, Sacks wasgoed vocal ter his belief that the beta release marks a crucial ogenblik te bitcoin’s history.
“Lightning is the most significant protocol being built on bitcoin and Lightning Labs is the best developer of that protocol,” Sacks told CoinDesk.
Fellow investor Ben Davenport, CTO at the blockchain security company BitGo, agreed the launch is a pivotal milestone.
He told CoinDesk:
“It’s something the entire community has bot focused on and working towards for the better part of two years now. It’s truly the culmination of a loterijlot of work by many people, not just Lightning Labs. . Wij see it spil a very significant lump of the scaling solution for bitcoin, and perhaps other digital currencies spil well.”
To Lee’s point, thousands of people around the world contributed to today’s Lightning release, from volunteer testers who helped find bugs ter the original alpha version, to developers like Jim Posen at the exchange podium Coinbase, who contributed code through GitHub.
“The community engagement around Lightning has bot amazing,” Lightning Labs CEO Elizabeth Stark told CoinDesk, adding that she plans to keep the software loosely accessible. “The protocol will always be open source and right now everything wij are making will be open source,” she said.
When Stark asked the audience at a latest decentralization summit ter Berlin who had already tested Lightning, hundreds of people raised their palms. “Wij have around 1,800 people on the Slack for LND alone,” she added. “Wij already have dozens of apps that developers have built.”
But it’s significant to note that even this beta should be used with caution.
Stark’s team built ter a few safety measures to limit the amount of cryptocurrency people can send for now to harshly $1,400 worth vanaf channel, or around $400 vanaf payment. The target demographic for the release is developers and “advanced users” who are able to run a total knot and use LND’s command-line interface.
Stark went on to warn that users should not proef with more money than they are willing to lose.
“Wij were not recommending use on the main bitcoin network before this beta because there are certain features, such spil a wallet seed backup, that were not there previously. There are fresh features included spil well, there are bug fixes and stability improvements,” she explained.
Still, it’s a release that’s likely to spur rente and engagement, given that developers are already sending money overheen the network – regardless of warnings.
Spil such, Stark now expects people with the abilities to host their own bitcoin or litecoin knot to add Lightning Labs’ free software to the mix for quicker, cheaper transactions. Already, there are already toughly a 1,000 knots running Lightning software on the bitcoin mainnet. Investors te the project believe the release will boost that growing number.
“What I hope to see, and am optimistic to see, is a Cambrian explosion of development of Lightning-based apps and other things that incorporate Lightning.”
Several contributors spoke of Lightning spil a long-term investment ter blockchain infrastructure, something that Lee, whose time is dedicated toward a wholly different protocol, spoke to.
A long-time advocate for Lightning, Lee voiced his hope that even more experiments will now be possible with the software, including transactions that occur across blockchains.
“It’s fine to see Lightning Network being used ter the real world. I’m also excited to soon being able to do cross-chain atomic exchanges inbetween bitcoin and litecoin,” he said.
Ter this way, Lee’s comments can be seen spil summing up the influence of the day’s news.
If bitcoin indeed is the ground floor of the emerging cryptocurrency ecosystem, then Lightning is the very first staircase. This release marks a vote of confidence that the staircase indeed is safe for builders to commence, with cautious steps, climbing up.
This article has bot updated for clarity.
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