There aren’t many steps left before bitcoin’s Lightning Network will be finished – or at least an early version of it.
The big picture looked starkly different a year and a half ago when developers Joseph Poon and Tadge Dryja first put forth a white paper outlining a way to expand bitcoin to accommodate millions of transactions per second. It was a cool idea to use hashed timelock contracts (HTLC) to build a top-layer to bitcoin that didn’t require any extra trust in intermediaries, but there wasn’t a clear-cut path forward from the theoretical.
Since then, it’s become viewed as the future of bitcoin transactions, and one of the primary ways to “Make Bitcoin Great Again,” or deliver on its original promise for fast, global payments.
Today, there are at least eight in-progress implementations of the protocol from around the world, most of which met in Milan, Italy, last month to flesh out a roadmap to ensure that the fragmented projects are able to work with one another.
Not to mention, a year ago there were at least two big protocol updates that Lightning hinged on that didn’t exist yet. A piece of code