December 13th, 2018
The Lightning Network (LN) is a second-layer protocol that was long promised as a solution to BTC’s scalability problem. However, the off-chain system is still very far from being able to support actual commence according to a new review by business management technology company Scipio ERP.
LN Is Incredibly Difficult to Use
The report’s developers created a Lightning Add-on for Scipio ERP that provides businesses with the ability to use the system. They then tested the network in order to see if it was really ready for commerce. On the positive side, the tests confirmed that under best conditions payment confirmations were reached within 5-10 seconds. However, they also revealed many crucial flaws.
LN makes it very hard to implement clustering, meaning running several redundant servers simultaneously, which is a critical feature for online retailers. Implementing it, in particular in a dynamic cloud setup, would require a lot of workarounds, the developers explain.
The network has a bad user experience, in sharp contrast to that provided by most payment providers, who make the process of setting up and integrating as fast and painless as possible. The system is also incredibly difficult to use. The report lists over a dozen steps needed for merchants and close to 10 steps required of customers to make payments.
It is also a resource hog, requiring a Bitcoin node and a Lightning node installed on the same server as the business application. “All of which will require a lot of time to set up and configure. If one of the systems fails, your business application will not be able to handle cryptocurrency transactions. This is even more problematic, as redundancy cannot be easily achieved,” the developers lament.
Slower Than an Average Credit Card Payment
The tests found that LN is still in a very early stage of development. “We have been operating the system for four months and crashes can and will happen all the time. Transaction channels can close or may not have enough peers at any time. There are no push notifications for these events, so you won’t know until a new transaction is placed and fails.”
Moreover, the network only allows small payments to be accepted due to limitations on the amount each channel can handle. And the process of opening a channel, needed once the limit on the previous one has been reached, makes it extremely difficult to automate for business applications.
As it stands, the Lightning Network is not useful for professional clustered environments, the developers insist. “Yes, Lightning does allow multiple nodes in its network, but at the same time, it limits the number of systems that can connect to a Lightning node. And sure, payments are considerably faster than Bitcoin, but they are not ‘instant’. Even under best conditions, it still takes more time for transactions to be secured and processed than with your average credit card payment. In addition, Lightning is neither easy to set up, nor convenient to run.”
All of the above made the Scipio ERP developers conclude that LN payments are not yet suitable for business transactions.
Will the Lightning Network eventually help to scale BTC? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.