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Bitcoin Businesses

Bitcoin's Highly Anticipated 'Lightning Network' Goes Live (thehill.com) 132

Lightning Labs on Thursday announced the beta release of its highly-anticipated Lightning Network Daemon (LND), a developer-friendly software client used to access Bitcoin's Lightning Network, anonymous readers wrote, citing media reports. From a report: Bitcoin supporters believe that the network has the potential to help the cryptocurrency achieve mass adoption. Bitcoin has struggled in recent months with slow and high-fee transactions, which make it harder for bitcoin to achieve mainstream popularity. Lightning Labs, the company behind the network, also announced on Thursday that it has received investments from major financial technology players, including Square chief executive and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and PayPal chief operating officer David Sacks.
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Bitcoin's Highly Anticipated 'Lightning Network' Goes Live

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  • by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Thursday March 15, 2018 @02:40PM (#56265703) Homepage

    Until the transaction time and cost rival credit cards, cryptocurrency isn't going to become the standard. Seems to work for ransoms. Great for contraband. If you're an investor, it's as good as roulette (with the exception that fraud on the roulette table is illegal.) I've heard that overstock.com accepts Bitcoin, but it seems more useful in the dark markets.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I wouldn't put a bit into that nethack....

    • by JeffSh ( 71237 )

      jesus christ, what is this, comment on things you know nothing about day?

    • Until the transaction time and cost rival credit cards, cryptocurrency isn't going to become the standard.

      Transaction time and costs aren't the real barrier - that would be the lack of any actual reason or economic incentive to switch.

  • by stevegee58 ( 1179505 ) on Thursday March 15, 2018 @02:44PM (#56265719) Journal
    "slow and high-fee transactions" are a thing of the pass now that the heavy hitters like Coinbase have begun consolidating transactions *greatly* reducing fees and mempool size.

    Also, read up on a well formed critique of lightning network:
    https://medium.com/@jonaldfyoo... [medium.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2018 @03:10PM (#56265835)

      So, in other words, the solution to the problems of a decentralized currency is to centralize control into one broker or another thus negating the actual benefits of the block chain and going back to brokering in trust.

      The reason bitcoin was hailed as a currency solution is that it removed trust from any human controlled entity and moved it into a equation which was calculated by many different people such that it would be obvious if someone was trying to tamper with the results. Now places like Coinbase and the lightening network are expecting people to trust them instead of the equations, thus negating any of the actual benefits of bitcoin itself. How can you be certain that Coinbase is consolidating the transactions properly? Can you see how they do this mathematically? If it is not all in the open how can you be sure this wont lead to gaming the market?

      Until they find a way to put every single transaction on the ledger at a low cost and high speed, crypto-curriencies will never become a mainstream thing.

      • >So, in other words, the solution to the problems of a decentralized currency is to centralize control into one broker or another thus negating the actual benefits of the block chain and going back to brokering in trust.

        Nope, not what I said at all. Coinbase and a couple of other large brokers were causing the high transaction fees and mempool increases. It's because they're the source of so many transactions due to their huge user bases.
      • Decentralize control to many brokers. Is it 'opposite day' where you live?

      • Take a look at Nano. Instant and free.
    • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Thursday March 15, 2018 @03:18PM (#56265879)

      Unfortunately for Bitcoin, it's a little bit too late. Bitcoin isn't going to go away, but it has soured in the fickle imagination of the world's population. Bitcoin isn't the golden boy anymore, now it's a dirty word.

      • it has soured in the fickle imagination of the world's population.

        I don't know what population you are hanging around, but now I've started seeing bitcoin billboards pop up. The hype is just beginning.

  • by Sebby ( 238625 ) on Thursday March 15, 2018 @02:44PM (#56265721)
    I feel that by the time Bitcoin becomes "mainstream", all possible Bitcoin will already have been minted, and will basically only be in the hands of the 1% - with that 1% being the geeks this time around.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      There will only ever be 21 million bitcoins. ~16 million have been mined so far. So we've already got ~75%.

      Mining for new coins finds half as many every 210,000 blocks, ~every 4 years with jumps happening around 2011, 2014, and presumably... soon. This whole system was set up to reward early adopters with easy to get coins (That weren't worth anything), to set up a fundamentally scarce resource, and to gradually transition the whole affair to a transaction-fee system. The time where poor shmuck

      • I got into Bitcoin and Litecoin back in 2014. At current prices I have made 30 times my money back. Anyone who got in when the first story about Bitcoin was posted to Slashdot (2011?) and held on to their coins is likely worth millions, even billions.
    • I feel that by the time Bitcoin becomes "mainstream", all possible Bitcoin will already have been minted, and will basically only be in the hands of the 1% - with that 1% being the geeks this time around.

      Oh sweet summer child - how I envy your innocence.
       
      Geeks don't hold any significant stock of Bitcoin now. It's all in the hands of Asian miners and increasingly in the hands of gamblers (err.. investors).

  • This is more or less the end:

    -Create lightning connections favoring selling off coins.
    -Once you've peaked at the limit of the pair transaction switch to favoring the buying of coins.
    -DDoS the other party.
    -Post old lightning state, showing the other party owes you.
    -They can't refute it with the correct state.
    -Get the free coins.
    -Rinse and Repeat, or just do it in parallel.

    The lightning protocol is so fundamentally flawed that anyone with enough BTC and access to a botnet (even for rent) can claim t
    • With coins going for so much money, a DDoS would be relatively cheap, in return for the gains involved.

      It might be just better to swap to another coinage protocol for transactions, and use BTC as more of a store of value as opposed to something for transactions, especially with currencies like Monero which address a lot of the anonymity issues.

      • With coins going for so much money, a DDoS would be relatively cheap, in return for the gains involved.

        According to Apostolaki et al., the BitCoin network routinely suffers routing attacks [acolyer.org] already. And by "routinely" they mean at least 100000 times a month.

        It would appear that partitioning the BitCoin network is already a widely-used tactic, and that's just BGP attacks - we're not even talking DDoS yet. I haven't looked closely at Lightning (I'm not very interested in BitCoin, personally), but I wouldn't be surprised if (as GP suggested) it will make things worse.

    • Any idea what would happen in there was a major disruption to the internet?

      Let's just say for that for a day, there is no internet connection between the US and China.

      When the disconnect is made, China will continue to mine Bitcoin, and the US will also. To the now individual networks, doesn't it appear to be just less miners mining? It should look like a power failure at a major mining facility took out a bunch of miners. No problem, the rest just keep moving forward.

      Instantly you have different versions

      • Now when the US restores its internet connection to China, how would that be reconciled within the network?

        That's no different than intentionally trying to pull a "50% attack". The largest network would "win". In your scenario all transactions made on the smaller half of the network after the outage would essentially be rolled back / cease to exist.

        Were you trying to say something about that outcome, or were you under the impression that nobody had considered such a scenario?

        • by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Thursday March 15, 2018 @07:29PM (#56266897)

          While you are technically correct, the question still does raise an interesting point.

          The network is designed to favor the longest chain. Yet sometimes the longest chain loses. Two miners are working on block n. Miner A completes block n. A while later, miner B (who either didn't get the message about miner A, or decided maliciously to ignore it) mines block n, then gets lucky and mines block n+1. Assuming miner B's block goes on to become the official new chain, then miner A never technically mined any of those block successfully, and all those transaction are invalid (even though they were confirmed initially).

          This doesn't happen often, but it does happen from time to time. Yet with every block ahead one version of the chain gets, it makes it increasingly more unlikely for the other chain to catch up (unless the other controls a majority of the hashing power). That's why the generally accepted system is that a block is mined every 10 minutes, but a transaction isn't generally considered completely verified until 6 block (1 hour) later. By the time that 6 additional blocks have been mined, it is statistically extremely unlikely for the other chain to catch up.

          Yet, in the proposed theoretical scenario, what you have is 2 different fractions of the network cut off from each other. Both are working with the best of intentions, and after several hours have passed, certainly everyone would have expected the completed transactions in each half to be set in stone. Yet when the 2 parts of the network are rejoined, the result is that one of the parts is going to have all of its transactions invalidated.

          So yes, the protocol handles the scenario perfectly, but that is little consolation to anyone who honestly thought the transactions were final and thus released physical goods. Now they have neither the goods nor the bitcoin to show for it.

    • You CAN short Bitcoin right now, at least Bitcoin futures.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday March 15, 2018 @03:06PM (#56265811)
    as a consumer. Today I pay with my CC and get cashback (basically a 1-3% discount on goods and services subsidized by folks who carry a balance and pay interest). Plus I can dispute charges up to 90 days from date of purchase.

    I suppose there's privacy, but I get pretty good privacy from my CC company (albeit lousy privacy from the Credit Agencies, but those are different companies).

    Now to businesses the prospect of lower transaction fees it tantalizing, but they mostly get that with Debit Cards already and haven't been able to get American consumers to switch. It doesn't help that Americans are kind of short on cash after decades of week or negative wage growth...

    Aside from anonymously buying embarrassing or illegal goods what would make me jump ship?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The merchant you buy the item from covers the discount as part of their transaction fees.

      Yes, this means they pay an average of 4% per year... but it can range from 2% to 6% per transaction depending on what the rewards on the card is.

    • I suppose there's privacy, but I get pretty good privacy from my CC company (albeit lousy privacy from the Credit Agencies, but those are different companies).

      fwiw you shouldn't expect Bitcoin to be anonymous. Even if a transaction currently can't be traced, the record is public forever (by design) and in the future new techniques may be found to trace bitcoin ownership (as has already happened).

    • You can send it anywhere in the World without needing a third-party's approval/assistance and no one can take it from you without the private key.
  • BULLLLLSHIIIIIIIIIT (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 )

    Bitcoin supporters believe that the network has the potential to help the cryptocurrency achieve mass adoption.

    No one with a brain believes this "Lightning Network" shit has potential, will help, or that Bitcoin even needs help.

    Bitcoin has struggled in recent months with slow and high-fee transactions, which make it harder for bitcoin to achieve mainstream popularity.

    Bitcoin isn't struggling. Blocks are mined just as quickly/slowly as they were before. Transactions are only slow if you don't want to pay fees. Fees are only high if you want to speed up the transaction. This is by design. This isn't preventing mainstream popularity, rather mainstream popularity is causing cheap/free transactions to slow down. If you want to use the network, support th

    • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday March 15, 2018 @03:51PM (#56266039)

      I looked it up, and yup it's bullshit.

      They're just running a separate ledger on top of Bitcoin, and transactions are only committed at the start and end. The whole thing is a mess, and will only benefit people who are willing to keep a balance of BTC out of their control in order to process multiple transactions before having anything committed to the actual block chain.

      It's like someone saw the ICO scams in Ethereum and decided they had to have it on Bitcoin as well.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "If there's one thing the Bitcoin community hates, its fucking clowns and hucksters"

      What's it like, being born without a sense of irony?

      • "If there's one thing the Bitcoin community hates, its fucking clowns and hucksters"

        What's it like, being born without a sense of irony?

        I wouldn't know. Irony doesn't mean what you think it means, by the way. And when I refer to "the Bitcoin community", I'm not talking about the spazoids who are into gambling / speculating, but the people who actually use and support Bitcoin as a currency and network.

    • if you want to get it down to what CC companies do today (sub-1 second for a large merchant, 10-15 for a mom and pop with an ancient terminal)? The question is are the competitive with what guys like Square can get you?

      Also, the currency needs to stabilize if it's going to go mainstream. Several folks stopped taking it because you could sell something for $50 worth of BTC today and have $30 worth of BTC tomorrow. Now, if I can instantly (and cheaply) turn my BTC into cash that's not a problem, but I'm g
      • if you want to get it down to what CC companies do today (sub-1 second for a large merchant, 10-15 for a mom and pop with an ancient terminal)? The question is are the competitive with what guys like Square can get you?

        Also, the currency needs to stabilize if it's going to go mainstream. Several folks stopped taking it because you could sell something for $50 worth of BTC today and have $30 worth of BTC tomorrow. Now, if I can instantly (and cheaply) turn my BTC into cash that's not a problem, but I'm guessing more fees.

        Bitcoin will -n-e-v-e-r- be a replacement for credit cards. It was never designed to. In fact, it was designed explicitly against such volume and frequency in order to prevent manipulation and ensure all nodes can sync the full block chain.

        • In fact, it was designed explicitly against such volume and frequency in order to prevent manipulation and ensure all nodes can sync the full block chain.

          In other words, it was designed so it has to stay small and have only a marginal effect. That's not the impression I've been getting from its supporters.

  • 0) Goes with out saying. Near instant, low-fee transactions. Comparable to debit card user experience.
    1) Dead-easy for end user. No need whatsoever to understand how any of it works.
    2) Currency price stability (at least comparable to any given major national currency such as USD, Euro).

    If something built on top of the horrendously complicated lightning network can be made usable by average non-techie, without going completely central, then that could maybe address points 0 and 1.

    Hard to see how Bitcoin achieves 2).

  • Nano is a better solution than lightning.

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