Bitcoin (BTC) is becoming more scalable, and the number of Lightning nodes has nearly doubled since the start of this year. The mainnet for the payments infrastructure, which facilitates near-instant transactions, recently celebrated its first year anniversary, having launched into beta on March 15th, 2018.
Bitcoin Visuals, a BTC statistics site, reports that the Lightning Network reached its 2,000th active node on December 19th of last year, a figure which increased to 4,020 by Tuesday, March 19th. That’s a 100% increase in three months.
These are all nodes with open channels, allowing payments to be routed through the network. The number of unique channels between Lightning nodes has also increased by nearly 130%, from 15,000 to 36,000, since the start of the year.
Lightning Strikes More Nodes
The Lightning Network is a secondary payments layer, built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. Transactions sent through its channels are not recorded directly onto the ledger; instead, nodes maintain balances between parties which are only settled when a channel closes. The final balance is then recorded onto the BTC network as a single transaction.
Nodes validate transactions and ensure that each payment follows consensus rules. Because they protect against double-spending, blockchains and distributed ledgers are more secure when they have more active nodes.
Crypto Briefing reported last December that median lightning channel capacity had tripled since the beginning of November. That figure has since decreased, with average channel capacity falling to 1M satoshis (SATs) lower than the end of last year. At the current exchange rate, that’s a $15 drop to $108.
Because it enables fast and low-fee transactions, some see the Lightning Network as an ideal medium for micro-payments. Suredbits, a blockchain data provider, announced earlier this week it was testing whether Lightning could be used to buy small data-sets. In this case, Lightning payments would be used to acquire futures data from exchanges like Kraken and BitMEX.
Suredbits CEO Chris Stewart told CoinDesk: “We are pushing the idea that lightning has a multitude of benefits when integrated into an exchange’s infrastructure that isn’t just related to withdrawals and deposits.”
The author is invested in digital assets including BTC which is mentioned in this article.