The Raiden Network is a payment channel network that would allow for near instant transactions to safely occur off the Ethereum blockchain. A payment channel is opened by calling a function in a smart contract on the blockchain. Once that payment channel is open between two nodes, those nodes can make off-chain transfers via the Raiden client. This eliminates transaction fees, as well as does away with waiting times, since there’s no waiting for a block to be mined.
When a party wants to settle up, they simply broadcast the most recent state of the payment channel to Ethereum’s blockchain, and the smart contract takes care of the actual settlement. The idea is through operating off-chain, Ethereum is left unburdened by these transactions, making the network faster overall.
Raiden took its initial baby steps with its very first proof of concept, PoC-0. In that earliest version, a working core of Raiden was implemented, allowing for the testing of off-chain transactions. Now, PoC-1 has been released, bringing Raiden closer to their MVP (minimum viable product) release. PoC-1 is the first in a planned series of weekly Raiden releases, which will lead up to the release of their MVP. According to Raiden, this release comes with “a lot of bug fixes, refactoring and other miscellaneous work by our tireless team.” They’ve listed on GitHub all the changes they’ve made since their previous release, some of which include:
- Fixed python packaging
- Throttling on sending messages
- Periodic healthcheck of all nodes we are connected to
- We now use the local ethereum accounts existing in the machine instead of prompting to input the private key
- Functionality in the client for assets-exchange
- A lot of internal architecture and protocol PRs got merged
- Raiden messages now have an identifier field
- Raiden smart contracts are now solidity v.4.0 compatible
- Raiden can now accept an rpc endpoint as URL
- Message sends are now queued
Their GitHub shows several future Proof of Concept versions in various stages of completion. Their developer team appears to be getting closer to having an MVP ready. As far as being on a specific schedule to MVP, a reddit comment from a software developer [r08o] working on Raiden said:
“It's actually scheduled for Christmas eve, but we do realize that with the current amount of open issues, it might be early 2017 instead.”
So while Raiden continues steadily rolling towards a proven product, the particular date still remains uncertain. For the tech-inclined, you can check out their MVP milestone on their GitHub to see what still needs to be figured out before a full release is possible.
With Raiden’s ability to increase the speed of transactions, while unencumbering the Ethereum network, this payment channel network remains an anxiously awaited piece of the Ethereum puzzle.