Blockchain, the Bitcoin wallet company has announced the alpha release of its latest Thunder Network, a payment channel technology designed to accelerate bitcoin transactions over the blockchain.
Call it Bitcoin blockchain on steroids, the Thunder Network was introduced earlier amid the block size debate over Bitcoin’s scalability. Thanks to 1 MB limit on bitcoin blocks, the Bitcoin network has been unable to handle the ever increasing number of digital currency transactions. With the network failing to adapt to the growth in bitcoin usage, it failed to process/confirm transactions as and when it happened. This led to a huge backlog where the transactions which usually took a couple of minutes to receive confirmation started taking hours. Increasing backlogs created an increased demand for priority confirmation among users, which in turn led to an increase in miner fees. Increased miner fee for transactions has made the concept of microtransactions with bitcoin redundant. Lightning Network, on the other hand, is introduced as a solution for these issues.
Thunder Network is Blockchain’s adoption of the Lightning Network for off-chain transactions. It uses smart contracts to offer trustless peer to peer transaction capabilities over a high-speed network. Blockchain’s announcement about the launch of its Thunder Network makes it the first company to implement a usable Lightning Network in its product.
According to the company, the Thunder Network developed by Mats Jerratsch allows people to make live, instant and ultra-cheap transactions which will be settled back on the main Bitcoin blockchain. Even though the Thunder Network uses an overlying protocol on the Bitcoin blockchain, it is perfectly capable of offering increased user privacy while handling large amounts of transactions at the same time.
Blockchain, in its blog post, clarifies that the Thunder Network is an alpha product and it is expected to stay that way for a while as it can’t be implemented on the Bitcoin blockchain on a protocol level until bot CSV and SegWit are included to it. This release should be used only by developers and those who want to experiment with it by using it within a trusted friends circle.
Thunder Network is found to outdo Visa when it comes to its capability of handling transactions. Blockchain has found it capable of handling more than 100000 transactions per second. At the same time, with the transactions happening off-chain, the transaction fee will be much lower compared to the miner fee charged on each on-chain transaction.
The AES-CTR encryption and authentication protocols combined with multiple node encrypted routing ensures the security and privacy of all transactions over the network. All these features include the irrevocability of payments makes Thunder Network better than the vanilla Bitcoin blockchain when it comes to peer to peer bitcoin transactions.
The day is not far off when Lightning Network based payment system gets widely implemented across the Bitcoin network. But Blockchain’s move to announce its Thunder Network will give it a first-mover edge over other similar networks that are yet to follow.