Hubs, Rebalancing and Service Providers in the Lightning Network

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IEEE Access, Volume 7, pages 132828 - 132840
M. Conoscenti, A. Vetrò, J.C. De Martin
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16 September 2019

Payment channel networks are the most developed proposal to address the well-known issue of blockchain scalability. Currently, the Lightning Network (LN) is the mainstream and most used payment channel network. In a previous work we introduced CLoTH, a payment channel network simulator we developed to analyze capabilities and limitations of such networks. In this work, using CLoTH, we present results of three groups of simulations on a recent snapshot of the LN, aimed to shed a light on the following aspects. Firstly, we investigated how hubs influence the LN performance. Then, we analyzed the effectiveness of two different channel rebalancing approaches, an active and a passive one. Eventually, we studied performance of the LN when a few service-providers nodes receive payments from the other network nodes, which is a typical use case of payment channel networks. We found that the LN is resilient to the removal of hubs, that our passive rebalancing approach reduces of about one fourth the payments failures due to channel unbalancing, and that in the service-providers scenario a consistent part of payments fails because channels directing to the service providers become unbalanced. Our work contributes to prove the strengthen of the Lightning Network when removing hubs and its weakness in the service-provider scenario. In addition, the passive rebalancing approach proposed in this work is a good candidate for the implementation in the Lightning Network protocol to mitigate channel unbalancing.

Open Access, full text available here

DOI: 10.1109/ACCESS.2019.2941448