Bitcoin was, as anyone remotely interested in cryptocurrency would have noticed, all over the news in 2018, with media outlets obsessing over the spectacular crash in valuations throughout the year. Underneath the predictions of imminent demise however, groundbreaking development was taking place in the attempt to fulfil the ambitions of Bitcoin’s founder Satoshi Nakamoto – making Bitcoin a fully functioning peer-to-peer currency. These developments went largely unnoticed by those with only a surface-level interest in digital assets, and by almost all the media. But, this lack of news belied the great work done by those behind Bitcoin’s scaling technology, Lightning Network, which is borne out by some extraordinary end-of-year statistics.
Lightning Network’s Very Merry Christmas
Lightning Network has been touted as Bitcoin’s best chance for mass adoption. The ability to transact instantly is something that Bitcoin desperately needs if it is to rid itself of the stigma of being slow and clunky in comparison to other quicker, cheaper, and sleeker cryptos. If the statistics are anything to go by, 2018 might have been the biggest step yet towards achieving that. After steady but slow adoption of Lightning Network throughout the year, November saw the network capacity rocket almost five-fold to over 500 BTC in just two weeks, while the number of nodes with channels ended the year at 2,300 having begun the year at 54. These sensational numbers, in the midst of a savage bear market, show just how the underlying fundamentals of the technology back up the belief of Bitcoin evangelists that the drop in price is temporary and superficial.
Made several graphs showing the growth of @lightning network in 2018.
Lightning Strikes the Masses
The amount of Lightning Network channels themselves also saw a surge in 2018, with the last six weeks of the year alone seeing the number of unique channels almost double. This adoption explosion explains why companies are putting time and money into making the system more accessible for mainstream audiences by creating Lightning Network payments apps for mobile devices. Hopefully, this increase in Lightning Network adoption continues into 2019 and we can see more instances like this, with Lightning Network allowing people to use Bitcoin as a method of payment, just like Satoshi intended a decade ago.
Here’s a video of me paying for pizzas for 1.8m satoshis (AUD$98) via the #LightningNetwork