Yesterday Blockchain (the company) introduced the ThunderNetwork, a way to make payments "off-chain" that will settle back to the main blockchain.
ThunderNetwork is based on the lightning network, the same proposed bitcoin upgrade which failed to achieve 75% consensus earlier this year. ThunderNetwork allows payments to be funded and settled back to the main blockchain (the bitcoin blockchain).
- Settlement to the bitcoin blockchain
- Scale: According to our tests so far, we can achieve better-than-Visa scale (100,000 TPS) with only a few thousand nodes on the network
- Extremely cheap payments: fees will develop naturally, due to the free market in an open and permissionless network and will fundamentally be lower than on-chain payments
- Encryption and Authentication: All communications between all nodes and wallets are encrypted using AES-CTR and take place only after completing authentication.
- Seed Peers and automatically provide them with network topology using a basic gossip protocol similar to the one used in the bitcoin network, which allows complex routes over multiple hops
- Payment Channels can be opened and closed at will, with transactions settling onto the bitcoin blockchain
- Payment Debate: Across the route each hop will renegotiate a new status with the next hop, as a payment makes its way through the network with cryptography in place to prevent fraud
- Relaying Payments: TN will relay payments over multiple nodes in the network automatically, using encrypted routing. No one knows who made a payment, allowing for more privacy
- Settle payments automatically, no manual intervention needed. The settlement will ripple back through the network to provide proof-of-payment
- Instant Payments that are irrevocable the moment you see them
This is similar to the way allot of exchanges work where funds are moved around from user to user internally and then moved on the blockchain when they are sent elsewhere. The difference here is that the ThunderNetwork is an actual blockchain where there are nodes in a permissionless environment.
That said, Blockchain recommends not using the network outside of friends and other trusted parties currently and until CSV and SegWit are implemented on the blockchain.
Once in more of a production form, the network will be may be a solid solution for companies and institutions that need privacy, speed, and inexpensive transactions without giving up the security and value of bitcoin and its blockchain.
The alpha source code has been released and you can learn more on Blockchains blog.