When asked whether the expected release of the Lightning Network could solve bitcoin’s scalability problem, Core developer Jeff Garzik expressed his doubts that any single specific technology could help.

During an interview with Bitcoin Uncensored, Jeff Garzik was asked to assess the possible implications of the emerging Lightning Network which supposedly is able to process millions or even billions of operations per second.

Though generally approving of the technology, Garzik pointed out several “unanswered questions” related to it. First, Garzik noted, one “cannot assume that all payments are going to go through.” It is not likely that the whole community will be eager to join the network at once. Moreover, even if it were, the adoption process would take some time. What seems most troublesome to Garzik is the fact that the system is restricted to instant payments and there is no guarantee that all users will be willing “to commit BTC simply to have access to instant payments.”

The developer sees some alternatives which could be more efficient than the Lightning Network, such as sidechains, for instance. According to Garzik, while sidechains have a number of advantageous features, just like the Lightning Network they are “immature, unknown technologies” that have not yet seen the light of day.

In the same interview, Garzik restated his endorsement of Segregated Witness (SegWit) which, unlike any hard fork, leaves users a choice whether to adopt it or not. Garzik believes that a solution of the scaling problem should not involve going against the principle of equality essential to bitcoin. Moreover, according to Garzik, while a group of developers might understand the technology better than anyone else, the same people might not be equally competent economists, for instance, and thus, they should not occupy a privileged position when it comes to deciding on bitcoin’s future and impose their decision on the rest of the community. 

The release of the full version of the recently announced Lightning Network is expected in summer and is currently undergoing tests at SegNet. Earlier this year, a group of bitcoin industry leaders gathered at the Bitcoin Roundtable in Hong Kong and, as a result, announced their shared position regarding the scalability problem, urging the community to wait for the SegWit release.

Maria Rudina