Although still in beta, the much-anticipated Lightning Network is already live. As shown in the screenshot, there are now over 1,000 nodes supporting the network around the globe.
Why the Lightning Network is Important
For the longest time now, receiving and sending money via the Bitcoin network has not only been expensive, but has also required the use of huge amounts of electricity. This has not only been bad for business, but also for the environment.
The Lightning Network seeks to change both of these. Rather than rely on miners to verify transactions, any average user running a Raspberry Pi can now be able to open a channel and enable transfer of funds for a fraction of the previous cost while also consuming little energy.
Previously, you could probably have had to spent about $8 for one transaction. With the Lightning Network, you can probably do over 100,000 transactions for about $20.
While this is definitely good news for the oldest cryptocurrency in existence, the old adage that corporates follow profits could potentially result in businesses having more money and resources coming up with more efficient nodes than your average Raspberry Pi.
Despite the low barrier to entry, the fear is that channel operators with more muscle could influence transaction patterns and paths and then we’re back to where we started.
At the moment however, it’s all systems go and the Lightning community is pushing that this never happens.