Taking Bitcoin to the next level is not an easy task. First of all, the community needs to solve its scaling issues. It now appears that is only a matter of time, thanks to BIP91’s being locked in. The next step will come in the form of introducing faster and cheaper payments, particularly through the Lightning Network. Now is a good time to take a closer look at the Lightning Network Daemon, also known as LND. This software is still in the early testing phase.
Why the Lightning Network Daemon Matters
It is good to see developers working on a solution for introducing Bitcoin users to the Lightning Network. So far, this can only be done through the testnet and with some fidgeting. Indeed, there is no convenient way to interact with this technology. However, the Lightning Network Daemon has the power to change all that, even though it is still only in alpha testing right now, which was released in January of this year.
The Lightning Network Daemon is a major milestone for the Lightning network as a technology. Most people know what this concept is all about and how it can affect Bitcoin. LND is now the most feature-complete implementation of this technology and can easily be tested by both developers and coding enthusiasts. Anyone can download the client from the official GitHub repo and experiment with what it has to offer. The feedback has been positive, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
People experimenting with the Lightning Network Daemon can open payment channels with peers, maintain a validated channel graph, passively forward incoming payments, and much more. It provides all of the functionality of the Lightning Network in its current form. This client is entirely based on the Go language, which is relatively new and allows for building efficient software in a convenient way.
LND requires BTCD as its direct connection to the Bitcoin blockchain. The daemon has to receive on-chain event information in some way, and using BTCD is the most viable solution right now. The team is working on a lite client node for Bitcoin, which would remove the need for BTCD altogether. It is unclear if and when this lite client will be released, but it is good to know such a tool is under development.
The Lightning Network Daemon can be used for both testnet and mainnet purposes. Having an option to conduct Bitcoin transactions over the Lightning network on the mainnet is a promising development. BitFury recently conducted such a successful test, indicating that the Lightning Network can work with or without the activation of Segregated Witness on the Bitcoin network.
It appears that we will see SegWit activate on the network soon. The BIP91 lock-in period has been successful, although that does not mean activation is guaranteed. Even if SegWit is still not activated on the network in the future – although this seems highly unlikely – we could still experience Lightning Network transactions regardless. The future is looking very bright for Bitcoin.