The Lightning Network is growing fast

Recently, the ‘official’ launch of the Lightning Network on Bitcoin’s mainnet , the main live network, took place. The launch was mostly symbolic and an answer to the question “when will the Lightning Network be finished?” There are several teams that will apply technology to Bitcoin and Lightning is still in development, but the network is growing rapidly. There will probably never be a moment when the network is really ‘finished’, but those who want and dare can already use it.

There is, of course, no central agency that can make such an announcement; It was possible for the engineers months (or years) ago to make a Lightning-like payment and at the moment it still takes some skill, but in the future everyone will be able to make Lightning payments. The launch was celebrated with the week of the Lapps.

Thousands of payment channels

This interactive Lightning Network explorer shows that the network now consists of more than 1700 Lightning nodes and more than 5000 payment channels. The visualization shows how the Lightning Network operates as a ‘second layer’ on top of Bitcoin, providing a powerful picture of the rapid growth that is taking place. The nodes and payment channels that can be seen in the visualization are only part of the entire network.

At the moment, the total capacity of all payment channels is only about 15 bitcoins. This is obviously nothing yet; most channels are probably for testing and developing the technology, or making small purchases like stickers in the Blockstream Lightning Store. The network has grown rapidly in a few months.

Lightning wallets

Several Lightning-ready wallets are already available to download for use. Don’t expect a flawless experience yet, because the Lightning network is still in beta. Android users can get started with mobile payments right away, which is of course necessary to make the Lightning Network truly viable for everyday use. The Eclair Android wallet from Acinq can be downloaded from the Play Store. The Eclair wallet is also available for MacOS, Windows and Linux via GitHub. In addition, the Zap wallet is also ‘ready’ for use. Mobile wallets for iPhone should follow suit soon.

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