United Kingdom-based Bitcoin exchange CoinCorner has become the latest major trading platform to support the Lightning Network. Traders can now use Lightning via CoinCorner’s website, with a mobile implementation in the works.
Lightning, which allows Bitcoin users to send transactions near-instantly and at negligible cost, is often regarded as one of the most popular scaling solutions for Bitcoin.
Launched in March 2018 by Lightning Labs, the layer two protocol, Lightning takes transactions “off-chain,” meaning that they occur on a second layer on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. Lightning users can lock up bitcoin on the Bitcoin base layer and unlock it on the Lightning Network to transact, which results in considerable load savings for nodes and drives down fees and transaction times.
“Bitcoin users want more efficient transactions—they want to be able to send and receive bitcoin without having to wait for confirmations or experience high withdrawal fees—and the Lightning Network is the answer to this. It benefits our customers and the Bitcoin network,” CoinCorner CEO Danny Scott told the BTC Times.
“There is no differentiation on our platform between Bitcoin and Lightning Bitcoin—Lightning Network deposits and on-chain deposits will show up as the same balance for our customers.”
Despite being around for almost three years, Lightning has yet to make sweeping inroads when it comes to exchanges, making CoinCorner an early mover. Leading exchange Bitfinex as well as younger platform River Financial are among those that already support Lightning, while U.S. exchange Kraken announced in December that it planned to integrate Lightning in 2021.
For Scott, however, the protocol's mass rollout is a matter of “if,” not “when.”
“The Lightning network is clearly the front-runner for making Bitcoin payments at scale, so innovating now and staying ahead of the game is what we want to do,” he added.
“Other exchanges will follow suit in the coming years, they are just prioritizing their developments in a different order to ourselves, unfortunately at the detriment to the progression of the Bitcoin network and infrastructure.”
As a case in point when it comes to such prioritization, major exchange Binance only implemented Segregated Witness (SegWit) support last December, with CEO Changpeng Zhao, known as CZ in crypto circles, explaining that other development projects needed to be completed first. For some, SegWit adoption has been slower than desired; a delay in the implementation of what is widely seen as Bitcoin's largest protocol upgrade to date is sometimes attributed to the technical effort needed to implement the upgrade, which requires more time and overhead for large companies and may not be every firm’s top priority.
“Took a while, but did it,” Zhao summarized on Twitter as the upgrade was rolled out.
According to monitoring resource 1ML.com, the Lightning Network had 15,611 active nodes and 36,318 open payment channels as of Friday. Total network capacity was 1,059 BTC ($44 million). It is worth noting that publicly available data does not include private nodes and channels on the network; the actual numbers may therefore be higher.
As the BTC Times reported previously, 2020 saw Lightning Labs tackle one of the protocol’s major sticking points in the form of liquidity management through the launch of a dedicated marketplace.