Why This Dev Built a ‘Centralized Ethereum’ on Top of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network

Why This Dev Built a ‘Centralized Ethereum’ on Top of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network

Credit: Etleneum

Ethereum was created to carry out complex applications Bitcoin supposedly couldn’t handle. A new app brings the idea full circle.

Pseudonymous developer Fiatjaf has created , which he describes as a “centralized” version of Ethereum that runs on payments from Bitcoin’s Lightning Network. Hence the name, a portmanteau of “Ethereum” and “Lightning.” (If that’s too subtle, the Etleneum logo is a diamond shape like Ethereum’s with a lightning bolt running through it.) 

Like Ethereum, Etleneum has “,” automated agreements over what rules need to be met before money can be dispensed. The contracts are public like Ethereum’s, and like the world’s second-largest blockchain by market capitalization, Fiatjaf’s platform is open to anyone to use.

But it is not decentralized. Fiatjaf controls it all – as he is quick to note.

“Lots of people think I invented some kind of decentralized trustless smart contract platform on Lightning, which would be amazing and probably impossible, but then they’re frustrated when I deny it,” he said.

It sounds odd, since the whole point of Bitcoin and Ethereum is decentralization – wrestling control from one ruler or entity. 

But Fiatjaf argues there are limits to what can be totally decentralized, and that this particular mixed set-up might prove to be more useful.

Etleneum went live in October. The app has garnered 200 registered users and 1,200 total calls to use the system, for either making or participating in the contracts. That’s a blip compared to Ethereum, which boasts give or take 1,000 transactions and just crossed 100 million .

Fiatjaf’s platform allows “two or more mutually distrusting parties … to run some arbitrary code that will determine what happens with some quantity of money, all guaranteed by a third party trusted by all involved,” he said. 

“If that was possible with a normal fiat bank, it would be pretty interesting already,” he said. “Today we have some apps doing basically that” [accepting money deposits and executing code that determines where that money will go].

He gave the example of Google AdSense, which allows users to get paid for posting advertisements on their websites based on how many clicks the ads get. 

“But it’s always a fixed, predefined ‘contract’, never an open platform for anyone to publish any kind of useless or stupid or small or big or useful contract,” Fiatjaf said.

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