Stellar has released a formal specification describing how and when it plans to adopt Lighting Network technology. The specification describes how Stellar plans to adopt the technology, marking a milestone for a project that’s been in-progress since Stellar Development Foundation co-founder and CTO Jed McCaleb first talked about the idea in a blog back in 2015.
“Scalability is one of our primary focuses over the next year. Hype tends to exceed reality in blockchain space – visions are big. The thing is, the tech can’t actually realize what people want today.”
Stellar said technology has been an integral part of its success story and that the company has recognised market demand for more private channel transactions, hence the integration of the Lightning Network.
“Lightning will have a huge positive effect on Stellar’s long-term scalability and security,”
When ethereum experienced growing pains, mobile messaging app Kik ditched the platform for the more scalable Stellar. But, if Kik really starts wants to move all of its transactions over to Stellar, the platform simply can’t handle that size, McCaleb conceded.
In addition, partners tech giant IBM has “ambitious plans for banks to use the network,” which would require Stellar to scale, while micropayment startup SatoshiPay and others “in the pipeline” have also expressed their interest in greater transaction scalability.
“We know if they used Stellar as much as they want to, Stellar would max out. Prior to these people using the platform, it needs to be ready. We want it to be more real.”
The announcement comes days after the first Lightning software for real bitcoin transactions was released by startup Lightning Labs. Though it took years for bitcoin to get to that point, McCaleb believes Stellar will be able to deliver the technology faster than bitcoin was able to.
“Now that it works in bitcoinland, that will make things move faster for us,”
Integrating Lightning on Stellar is not an easy feat. Stellar developers can’t simply port over the code working on Bitcoin today. Instead, they’ve developed their own unique version. To help them, they enlisted developer Jeremy Rubin, who’s contributed actively to Bitcoin’s most popular node implementation over the years.
McCaleb also pointed out that Lightning makes it easier to make payments across blockchains.
But, as far as the near-term, the specification outlines a roadmap. By April 1, Stellar plans to launch a trial version of the technology on a test network, with ambitious plans to release an implementation for real payments by autumn.
McCaleb stressed that the tech team is seeking feedback from developers and researchers in the community so they’re not:
“throwing the tech over the wall.”
Stellar developers are currently working on support for multi-hop payments, increased privacy and scalability, and interoperability with Lightning Network channels on other blockchains such as Bitcoin. However, they are the first to admit there is still much work to be done.