MIT and Stanford Professors are Creating the Answer to Bitcoin’s Scalability Issues

Researchers from America’s most prestigious universities are coming together to create a new cryptocurrency that will overcome bitcoin’s greatest technical challenge: scalability. Although academics have a poor track record of solving real world problems, the researchers have teamed up with Pantera Capital to develop a cryptocurrency that could serve as a viable payment network in the future.

Academics Designing ‘Better Bitcoin’

According to Bloomberg, professors from seven U.S. universities have joined hands to create a new cryptocurrency capable of achieving faster processing speeds without sacrificing decentralization – a core tenant of the blockchain revolution. The so-called Unit-e cryptocurrency is the first project to be carried out by Distributed Technology Research, the non-profit group uniting the academics.

Among the schools represented are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of California. They are joined by hedge fund Pantera Capital, which has an impressive track record in generating stellar crypto market investments. Read: How Pantera Capital Engineered a 10,000% Return Investing in Cryptocurrency.

Although several initiatives are underway to boost bitcoin’s transaction speed and scalability, the researchers say the cryptocurrency’s design has inbuilt restrictions that impede on its usefulness as an everyday payment system. The goal of Unit-e is simple but highly ambitious – namely, use blockchain technology to develop a cryptocurrency that can process transactions faster than Visa.

Unit-e is scheduled to go live in the second half of 2019. When released, it will process as many as 10,000 transactions per second, according to DTR. By comparison, Visa processes roughly 1,700 transactions per second.

The Bitcoin Scalability Debate

The issue of scalability is one of the biggest impediments facing bitcoin, so much so that dozens of alternative cryptocurrencies have been designed specifically to address this problem. Some proponents of the original cryptocurrency believe the debate over scalability could be put to rest once Lightning Network achieves full potential. The highly-touted bitcoin scaling solution has seen notable improvements in recent months, including a double-digit percentage gain in processing capacity.

As of Thursday, Lightning Network’s capacity has increased to 529.21 BTC, which is equivalent to just over $1.9 million at today’s prices, according to 1ML. That represents a gain of more than 3% since the last time we covered Lightning Network’s processing power on Dec. 26. At the time, the network saw a 13% surge in processing capability.

Lightning Network has achieved 20,586 channels, an increase of 31.8%. The number of nodes is up nearly 20% to 5,472.

At the core of Lightning Network is the desire to boost bitcoin’s transaction speed while lowering the cost of payments. This is done by creating a second-layer scaling solution that operates as a bidirectional payment channel. Basically, this creates a ‘running’ tab between two accounts, which eliminates the need to record every transaction on the blockchain.

Lightning Network has its fair share of detractors who claim the protocol promotes centralization and suffers from inefficiencies that could allow hackers to target channels holding a high volume of bitcoin. Bitcoin advocate Andreas Antonopoulos addressed some of these concerns in a YouTube Q&A last February. Click here for more.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chief Editor to and Contributor to, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi