Does the Lightning Network use a blockchain?

Is the Lightning Network still blockchain technology or not anymore?

2 Answers 2


The Lightning Network is a protocol that builds on top of a blockchain and uses cryptography to allow value to be transferred between untrusted parties outside of the blockchain, giving these value transfers the ability to handle increased capacity. But the Lightning network is built on top of a blockchain (hence it's known as a "layer 2" solution) because the value transferred in the network is funded by and settled to the originating blockchain.

For more information check out this talk announcing the lightning network

  • 1
    so... is it a YES or a NO ?
    – Nulik
    Nov 8, 2017 at 15:57
  • 2
    I would characterize the lightning network protocol as a blockchain technology, yes
    – Eric Allam
    Nov 8, 2017 at 16:00
  • 1
    but how can it be blockchain technology if its protocol doesn't have its own blockchain. Bitcoin would be blockchain technology, but Lightning network shouldn't , according to common logic. With your logic, any technology working on top of a blockchain would be blockchain technology too, even if it doesn't have its own blockchain.
    – Nulik
    Nov 8, 2017 at 16:28
  • 5
    I don't think this is the place to argue semantics. Eric gave an elaborate answer, but he can't know what you mean by the term "blockchain technology", which is a vague as it gets. Nov 8, 2017 at 16:42
  • 1
    Then perhaps you should have asked "Does LN have its own blockchain?" instead. Nov 9, 2017 at 18:04

The Lightning Network (LN) does not have its own blockchain. Payments in the LN use native Bitcoin transactions for payments.

To create a LN channel, two users put funds into a shared address. Before submitting the funding transaction to the blockchain, they exchange Bitcoin transactions which would allow either party to reimburse the shared funds to the respective owners. These commitment transactions are valid Bitcoin transactions that the channel owners could submit to the Bitcoin network at any time to close the channel and reclaim unencumbered ownership of their funds. While a channel operates as intended, the commitment transactions remain unbroadcast—they only serve as a fallback.

When one LN user pays another, the sender kicks off a series Bitcoin transactions which have users forward a payment along a route through the LN. Each of these transactions put a Hash Time Locked Contract (HTLC) on a portion of the funds of the forwarding channel to ensure that the forwarded funds do not get spent in another way. When the payment settles, the channel operators fold these HTLCs back into the channel's balance by replacing the previous commitment transactions.

As you can see, the Lightning Network acts as a caching layer or compression mechanism for regular Bitcoin transactions. While it does not have its own blockchain, it is heavily reliant on the availability of the Bitcoin blockchain to resolve disputes and guarantee existence of funds.

I'll leave up to you whether that fits your definition of "blockchain technology".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.