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On the (Not So) Surprising Impact of Multi-Path Payments on Performance and Privacy in the Lightning Network
Authors: Charmaine Ndolo, Florian TschorschAbstract:
The Lightning network (LN) addresses Bitcoin’s scalability issues by providing fast and private payment processing. In order to mitigate failures caused by insufficient channel capacities, LN introduced multi-path payments. To the best of our knowledge, the effect of multi-path payments remains unclear. In this paper, we therefore study the impact of multi-path payments on performance and privacy. We identify metrics quantifying the aforementioned properties and utilise them to
evaluate the impact of multi-path payments. To this end, we develop a simulator implementing pathfinding in LN using single and multi-path payments as well as various pathfinding algorithms. We find that, while the success rate of multi-path payments is up to 20% higher, the impact of multi-path payments on performance otherwise remains within limits. On the other hand, the impact on privacy appears to be greater, e.g., multi-path payments are more likely to encounter an on-path adversary and the relationship anonymity is more likely to be compromised by colluding intermediate hops. However, multi-path payments are less likely to be deanonymised based on the path lengths.
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