Side Chains and Lightning Network: The Answer to Hard Forks

For Bitcoin and Bitcoin-like digital assets, there are smarter answers to the scaling problem. And while the Bitcoin community haggles over block size and makes an arms race out of hashing power, other projects capitalize on tools for speed.

Speed is the greatest problem- and the companies that find solutions to blockchain speed constraints stand a change at success.

For Bitcoin, the most prominent contender to apply a scaling solution based on side chains is Blockstream. Led by Adam Back, a self-described cypherpunk, Blockstream aims to offer paid side chain services.

For this reason, Blockstream has been attacked as having interest in keeping Bitcoin with small blocks, so there would be demand for second-level solutions. But Adam Back has not been against larger blocks- just against a hard fork coming too soon to enforce that solution. He still believes the SegWit2X approach represents a solution under pressure, driven by an organized group of companies:

"If a a few companies, or even a cluster of companies, can effectively take control of bitcoin governance, and force a change — that is a definitional failure of Bitcoin’s decentralised value proposition in itself."

Just as SegWit2X continues to be under attack and the survival and acceptance of the chain are in doubt, there are coins that may come into focus with solutions to the speed and scaling problem.

Currently, Bitcoin also can make use of the Lightning network. However, altcoins are more flexible and there may be easier community acceptance. Litecoin had the LIghtning network greeted with enthusiasm. For Decred, voting shows a positive attitude. Viacoin has passed some tests on this technology, and Vertcoin also talks of implementing the upgrade.

And while second-level or side technologies are still uncertain, currently they are a good approach to diverting the attention from the "forking mania" played out in the past few days. The problem is, the Lightning Network is still meeting with difficulties, and forking the Bitcoin blockchain can be done much faster.

Other projects that are currently attracting attention also bet on side chains as a solution to the usability of a blockchain. Stratis allows the building of side chains and settlement on its platform. OmiseGo also uses a side chain, but links to the Ethereum network for settlement.

The current state of blockchain technologies certainly requires a forward move- but the current approach to updates, by creating and trading new digital assets every time, may be working against the credibility of cryptocurrencies.