Japanese Utility Company Tests Lightning Network
Japan has long been pioneering adoption of Bitcoin; from business integrating Bitcoin payment options, to employee salaries being paid in Bitcoin. Keeping with their trend, CoinDesk.com was able to get an exclusive interview on their new, progressive attempt at utilizing the Lightning Network.
The Lightning Network uses multi-sig wallets, set up off the Bitcoin blockchain, and works via payment channels, set up by the involved parties. While a payment channel is open, a balance sheet is kept to show the amount fro a transaction, and to whom it was sent; payments are comleted instantaneously. After a certain amount of time, or when the payment channel is closed, the multiple payments are added to the blockchain in one transaction. This allows for instant transactions between parties.
Chubu Electric Power Co., Japan's third-largest provider of electricity, and Nayuta, an IoT (Internet of Things) startup have entered a proof-of-concept arrangement to test Bitcoin payments on the Lightning Network. The proof of concept is being tested by using the Lightning Network as a way of payment for charging electric vehicles. Similarly to how a credit or debit card would work now, the companies showed how using the Lightning Network allows for a quick payment, which once received, allowed the vehicle charger to begin providing power to the vehicle.
Chubu's senior manager, Hidehiro Ichikawa explained to CoinDesk that this test is part of their market research, with no official plans to start implementing this payment option to consumers. As sending every transaction directly to the blockchain can prove expensive and take time for a confirmation, Lightning Network payments may be the answer to make these transactions cheaper and faster. Nayuta's CEO, Kenichi Kurimoto quoted this to CoinDesk:
To further demonstrate this, use of an app, developed by Japanese software startup Infoteria, was used to send a dummy payment (not using real Bitcoin, but a mock version over a closed network), where you can see a transaction "sent" from an app, seconds later received by the vehicle charger, and then the outlet appearing to turn on and provide electricity to the vehicle. A spokesperson for Nayuta had this to say about the results of the demonstration:
Chubu's Ichikawa expressed that testing is in the early stages, and he was not forthcoming on how much money Chubu has invested in the project, or how this might affect the company's product. Nayuta's Kurimoto had this to say about his company's dedication to the project of implementing the Lightning Network: