Lightning Labs, the commercial entity responsible for the development of the Lightning Network, has announced, via a blog post, its release of the first alpha version of its LN client for the Main bitcoin network.
Lightning is Live
It seems like decades ago (in cryptocurrency terms) that Lightning Labs began its research and development into building the next generation of scalable, decentralized financial infrastructure. Built on a belief that systems based cryptography, blockchains and smart contracts can transform financial cooperation around the world, Lightning Labs began developing the:
‘…most advanced and most developer-friendly implementation of the Lightning Network protocol.’
Fast-forward 3 years later and that company, headed by crypto-superwoman Elizabeth Stark, has finally announced the first alpha release of the Lightning App for desktop on Bitcoin mainnet. Still an early version targeting testers; the desktop client promises advanced users and developers the opportunity to begin experimenting with the Lightning UX. Users will be able to control their own funds – all powered by Lightning Labs Neutrino light client technology.
The desktop release will support macOS, Windows and Linux, and represents a huge milestone towards mobile development (mainnet iOS and Android apps).
Bitcoin’s Founding Principles
As an early adopter of the bitcoin network, it will come as no surprise that Stark and Lightning Labs is driven in support of bitcoin’s founding principles: privacy, security and self-determination. In order to achieve that, user experience and usability is paramount. Mass-adoption, and therefore maximum network effect of bitcoin, can only be achieved if complex setup processes and blockchain interactions are consigned to the past.
‘Scaling Bitcoin and Lightning to everyone means not requiring people to follow complex setup processes or hand over control of their funds to trusted counterparties.’
Moreover, bitcoin was designed as the world’s first truly peer-to-peer digital currency. Requiring the non-technical user to hand over control over their funds to trusted private counterparties defeats the very objective of the bitcoin network. As a result the LN and Lightning Labs are building a wallet which ‘knocks down these barriers-to-entry and demonstrates what is possible when technology fights for the user.’
Neutrino to the Rescue
In order for this scaling solution and native wallet to be successful, the Neutrino bitcoin light client, which allows the use of the LN without downloading the entire blockchain, is utilised. Neutrino only has to download and validate tens of megabytes of data. This dramatically increases accessibility to the client and interface – and can be done via smartphones or other devices. Excitingly for bitcoin adopters, this new combination and interface will be fully synced by the time the user has written down and verified their seed.
This announcement is clearly a huge milestone for Lightning, Lightning Labs and bitcoin. The ecosystem and proponents of the bitcoin network have been patiently waiting for such a release. Mainstream adoption and actually everyday usability of bitcoin has just got a lot closer.