Bitcoin Q&A: Lightning Network scaling

What is the capacity difference between utilizing second layers, like the Lightning Network, and block size increases? Are hard forks harder to execute with the existence of second layers? BCH supporters say that the Lightning Network will not be able to scale, remain decentralised, or be secure. Is that true? How surmountable are each of these challenges? What are the security risks of running a Lightning node, and how many channels should each node open? Why are routing algorithms not part of the BOLT standards?

These questions were part of the monthly live Patreon Q&A session on December 16th 2017 and the (rescheduled) April session on May 5th 2018. If you want early-access to talks and a chance to participate in the monthly live Q&As with Andreas, become a patron:

Bitcoin, Lightning, and Streaming Money –
The Internet of Money: Five Years Later –
The Lightning Network –
The Lightning Network –
Lightning’s security model –
Misconceptions about the Lightning Network –
Atomic swaps –
Running nodes and payment channels –
What is Segregated Witness (SegWit)? –
SegWit and fork research –

Andreas M. Antonopoulos is a technologist and serial entrepreneur who has become one of the most well-known and respected figures in bitcoin.

Follow on Twitter: @aantonop

He is the author of two books: “Mastering Bitcoin,” published by O’Reilly Media and considered the best technical guide to bitcoin; “The Internet of Money,” a book about why bitcoin matters.





Translations of MASTERING BITCOIN:

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Music: “Unbounded” by Orfan (
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53 thoughts on “Bitcoin Q&A: Lightning Network scaling”

  1. Question for anyone out there. What are the fundamental differences between Ethereum & EOS? Do they compete? What are the pro’s and con’s of each?

  2. bcash cheerleaders are tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists who blame everything on muh ''blockstream'' bilderberg group derrppp. Scary, dumb people.

  3. Mihir asks: when will mainstream media stop attacking crypto every time there's a drop in the understandably volatile market that is crypto?

  4. The whole comment about scaling towards the end reminds me of the whole Y2K dilemma that everyone in the mid 90s were running around frantically about. My IT instructor in college put it into perspective saying that the resources at the time when enterprises were developing systems would have spent much more in resources trying to scale for solving the Y2K problem in the earlier phases of its legacy systems. Once scaling became more cheaper to update systems for Y2K, enterprises made the appropriate updates and the whole Y2K scare went away. It's the whole mentality of "I'll cross the bridge when I come to it" in the IT industry when it comes to scaling.

  5. In bear market days like this, our crypto community needs to refocus on what lies ahead.

    A huge thanks to the GREAT Andreas Antonopoulos for yet another very informative videopodcast!


  6. I skimmed an article today saying that 99% of lightning network payments over $300 fail. Should I be concerned?

  7. Thank you so much for all the information you give out to everyone. You are so important to this community. Your work is truly important to millions today – in the future it will be to billions. Bless you, Andreas!

  8. From what I gather LN doesn't even need BTC when all's said and done. LTC or any other coins that can be swapped can be used and will be. So LN is the only layer that matters if it can switch on the fly.

  9. Lightning critics are saying the only way to practically get enough liquidity to make Lightning work is for some nodes to load up tons of money in their channel and for everyone to route through these nodes, creating centralized choke points. Is this true? The reasoning is that most poor people will not have lots of extra money to open channels everywhere.

  10. Excellent pause… The acceptance that the development advance on all fronts further builds on top of the previously developed foundations. All these developments are tying into and anchoring the network into real world solutions and this continues with every minute that passes. Without a time machine, this network is already beyond competition. Fantastic and it's probably an historic moment.

  11. lightning is like an alt coin and bitcoin the on ramp, it won't be worth closing a channel.. you may as well load up a credit card instead

    at the end of the day, we invested in bitcoin with the on chain road map.. if you want something different you should fork under a new name.

  12. Segwit is only at 40%. Lightning If fully developed would be significantly lower. Why the conservative scaling? What species is this designed for cause humans are not patient and hard to gain trust.
    There’s too much ideology and not enough reality within these talks. Not everyone can “exit”!

  13. Lightning needs an installer like InstallAware or InstallShield (or Iceberg for Mac). It won't have mass adoption if the user has to use Terminal with bash and a long series of obscure commands to get running. This is not good business sense. BTW, I'm a programmer and CEO of my own software business now for more than 2 decades. I find it unfathomable that Blockstream couldn't find someone to create a dedicated installer (with checksums for those of us who worry about file tampering). I've been all over Github looking and can't find any. Please let me know if there's an installer I have somehow overlooked. Am starting to wonder if Blockstream has deliberately sabotaged bitcoin or if they're just inept.

  14. This is the real Bitcoin Jesus. BTrash is a waste of time! Lightning Wins. Accept your failure Roger Ver and fellow mad one's and return to the Real Bitcoin fold. Block Size increase is a single line code change and is not even a path to a solution! There is no easy way of just increasing block sizes to solve scalability without losing decentralisation principles completely! Already Bitmain hashrate centralisation is a threat, what you guys are doing is completely ridding Bitcoin of any scope of decentralisation.

  15. If, and it's a big if, Lightning Network ever achieves large adoption hard forks will become pretty much impossible for more reasons that AA states in his response here. It's not just about not being able to get air drops. It is surprising that AA who has put a lot of faith into the LN solution was unaware of this.

  16. andreas how long would it take for 5 billion people to open a LN channel? so much for scaling BTC with LN! Come on Andreas, you are so smart but you can not see the basic problems. you do not have to be a rocket scientist to recognize them.

  17. Andreas thanks for your Insight. What would happen if lets say all the lightning nodes or a signfication amount of nodes are getting closed down due to outside influence or let's say a mayor bug or some crisis, what would happen then? Do you have any thoughts on that to make the best out of such situation?

  18. "We don't need to report transactions to the blockchain…unless there's a dispute." Problem: there's not a dispute until AFTER the transaction. You don't know going into your transaction whether or not a dispute will arise later. Again, LN is not a solution. DigiByte anticipated these scalability problems with BTC and solved them in advance, all while keeping all transactions on the blockchain. MoveToDGB.

  19. So let me get this right. Increasing the maximum block size is not a viable solution to scaling Bitcoin, because you'd run in to problems in the future. But LN is, even though there are problems that still need to be solved in the future? Now if you realize that LN can also work on BCH because segwit is not the only solution for the malleability problem then does that not mean that on chain + off chain scaling will yield a higher chance of success then only off chain scaling? If Bitcoin-BTC is ever going to raise their max blocksize people will say: Well BCH already did that years ago …. which would mean that BCH is the Bitcoin that is going things the right way because it allow both on chain and off chain scaling which gives everybody more freedom then when you prevent on chain scaling my keeping the max block size limit (non segwit) so low.

  20. There is hubs, read the lightning paper. They talk about routing hubs as separate from orginating hubs.

  21. Hi Andreas! Preveously you were saying LN has onion routing in it. And now you are saying it is not secure to create only one channel, because next node will see all transactions. So does LN have onion routing or not?

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