Jeff Garzik: Sidechains a Better Bitcoin Scaling Solution Than Lightning Network

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Jeff Garzik: Sidechains a Better Bitcoin Scaling Solution Than Lightning Network

By Kyle Torpey - min read
Updated 11 March 2022

In a recent interview with Bitcoin Uncensored, Bitcoin Core contributor and Bloq Co-Founder Jeff Garzik shared his views on the issue of scalability in Bitcoin. One of the key points made by Garzik during the interview is that he thinks — in terms of scaling — sidechains are a better option than the Lightning Network.

Although Garzik admitted he is a fan of the Lightning Network, he sees the possibility of a far better solution coming via a sidechain.

3 Issues with Relying on the Lightning Network

During his recent interview, Jeff Garzik mentioned three issues with relying on the Lightning Network as the supposed savior of Bitcoin.

The first point made by Garzik had to do with the assumption that everyone is going to use the Lightning Network instead of the blockchain for transactions. He noted, “You cannot assume that all payments are going to go through [the Lightning Network].”

Garzik’s second point was that it’s going to take awhile to roll out a fully-functional Lightning Network. While the concept’s co-creator Joseph Poon recently stated his version of the generalized network for payment channels should be ready by the summer, Garzik’s point is that it will take some time for wallet providers and the Bitcoin community as a whole to adopt this new technology.

Garzik’s last point on the problems with over-reliance on the Lightning Network was that everyone might not be willing or able to lock up their bitcoins on this new network. He explained, “The economics are still very, very open to question — whether you’re going to want to commit BTC simply to have access to instant payments . . . not everyone can even afford that.”

 In a past presentation at the Coinbase (global crypto exchange) offices in San Francisco, Lightning Network co-creators Joseph Poon and Tadge Dryja claimed the idea that the Lightning Network requires users to “tie-up” their funds is a bit of a misnomer.

A Sidechain May Be a Better Option

In addition to noting possible issues with the Lightning Network, Jeff Garzik also stated, “It might be a sidechain that is a far, far better solution than [the Lightning Network].”

Garzik then pointed to drivechain, which are a relatively-new version of the sidechains concept developed by Bitcoin Hivemind’s Paul Sztorc. The concept was recently explored further by Rootstock, a company building a smart-contract-focused Bitcoin sidechain similar to Ethereum, in a blog post. Rootstock’s current model for their sidechain can be described as a hybrid between a drivechain and a traditional sidechain.

Multiple Scaling Options are Needed

It was at this point that Bitcoin Uncensored Co-Host Junseth pointed out that possible security issues also exist with sidechains. Jeff Garzik agreed this is a valid criticism, and he added:

“I think that [sidechains are] a better solution, but all the things I just said about Lightning apply to sidechains as well. It’s an immature, unknown technology that hasn’t been rolled out into production, so you don’t want to bet the universe on one particular direction — even the direction I think is the best.”

In one of his final statements on the Lightning Network, Garzik concluded:

“I like Lightning, but there’s still a lot of unanswered questions. And you just can’t assume that Bitcoin’s future is going to rest on one specific technology that hasn’t been rolled out yet.”