Researchers from BitMEX cryptocurrency exchange suggested that the privacy and scalability benefits of the Bitcoin (BTC) app for the Lightning Network are lower than expected.
A report published by BitMEX on January 11 illustrates researchers’ efforts to determine the growth of the Lightning Network by trying to extrapolate information about private payment channels from easily available data.
The team focused on closing uncooperative channels and suggesting that since the network activity started – around 60,000 such transactions have been made.
A non-cooperative channel closure occurs when the Lightning Network node begins closing the payment channel without connecting directly to the node to which the channel is connected.
Closure of non-cooperative channels is more widespread than expected
Non-cooperative channels are easily tracked and closed, and must be confirmed in blocks on the blockchain. Because of these characteristics, BitMEX researchers have drawn the following conclusion from the higher-than-expected number of these coefficients:
“The fact that non-cooperative closings are more common than many people think, means that the benefits of privacy and scalability in lightning are much less than expected. However, […] when users learn more about how to use the lightning network and lightning wallets, it may decrease The prevalence of non-cooperative closings. ”
The report notes that researchers initially expected to find 30,000 non-cooperative channel closings but instead discovered 60,000 closings. More liberal estimates indicate that the number of these closings is more than 90,000, and is cumulatively spent 1,405 BTC.
Lightning attacks are rare
The report also clarifies that in some cases, closing uncooperative channels sees an attempt by a fund theft, called a breach closure. Closing of a breach can be followed by a criminal transaction if an attempted theft is discovered and the other party demands all the money. Attempts to steal money in these ways are very rare, according to the report:
“Our analysis shows that these penal transactions are extremely rare. Only 0.30% of non-cooperative closings result in a penalty or 0.22% in value terms.”
The Lightning Network, though promising by many, is still largely experimental. As reported by Cointelegraph in early December 2019, “Redditor” lost four Bitcoins on the Lightning Network and later posted advice based on his experience. He also suggested that users interested in the system conduct a comprehensive research on how the system works before using it to send large amounts of bitcoin.
However, Lightning’s promise of instant transactions that hardly feel sentiment is accepted by many in the cryptocurrency community. In November 2019, Nick Bhatia, a bond market veteran, said that with Lightning, Bitcoin has become an unprecedented asset by combining a value store with an average and exchange rate.