ZCash Gets New Code For An Anonymous Lightning Network

The payment mechanism of Bitcoin's Lightning Network (LN) has been hailed as one of the best things that happened to the network as it handles more transactions, more quickly at a much lower fee.


The payment mechanism of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network (LN) has been hailed as one of the best things that happened to the network as it handles more transactions, more quickly at a much lower fee.

However, more than six months after its first introduction, the code is still in its beta testing stage as there seems to be no substantial progress in the development of the Lightning Network.

The slow development of the Lightning Network has made Dr. Ayo Akinyele conclude that LN is due for a privacy boost.

Dr. Ayo Akinyele is a computer scientist who is focused on building a ZCash implementation of anonymous off-chain payment architecture called BOLT, and the work was published on GitHub on August 14.

ZCash gets anonymous lightning network

ZCash’s version of the Bitcoin core’s lightning network was first conceived by its founders Matthew Green and Ian Miers in 2016, inspired by the Bitcoin solution for scalability.

The payment architecture of ZCash builds on the success of the LN and seeks to unlock high levels of transaction throughput while adding payment confidentiality. Dr. Akinyele told CoinDesk:

“The lightning network has solved the initial issue with scalability, and now that gives us the opportunity to deal with the privacy problem. That is the strength of the BOLT design,”

BOLT solves the privacy option problem of Lightning Network

Lead developer of BOLT, Dr. Akinyele commented that the architecture of BOLT while retaining the scalability of the initial LN, solves some of the problems that hindered the mainstream application of the network.

The BOLT architecture uses blind signatures and zero-knowledge proofs to obscures transactions, balances and the identities of the sender and receiver.

BOLT is also built to function along with the privacy-oriented ZCash, which allows users to open a channel using shielded transactions, thereby anonymizing the initial connection to the network. Akinyele said about the network:

“BOLT is ONE approach that could lead to very promising results for privacy, and I’m excited to be on the front line of pursuing that,”.

The BOLT architecture would be added to the ZCash network as an extra option for users looking to anonymize their payment channel usage.

BOLT could get massive adoption

Solving the privacy problem, which was the biggest of the Bitcoin Core’s Lightening Network opens up the possibility of other cryptocurrencies integrating BOLT into their blockchains.

The BOLD architecture if implemented to cryptocurrencies similar in structure to ZCash, would offer a shielded transaction option similar to what ZCash offers now.

Before BOLT can be activated on the cryptocurrency, the new code would need to be added to the repository of ZCash repository, “soft fork” — or a type of change that doesn’t require all versions of the software to update.

Dr. Akinyele told CoinDesk that while the version of BOLT has been optimized for ZCash, in the future, Akinyele plans to develop it as a privacy extension for the lightning network itself.

Finally, the team behind BOLT noted that there’s still work to expand some of the architecture’s capabilities, meaning future versions of BOLT could look very different from what it is now.

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