Payment Does Not Imply Consensus (For Distributed Payment Systems) [article]

Thomas Orton
2021 arXiv   pre-print
Decentralized payment systems such as Bitcoin have become massively popular in the last few years, yet there is still much to be done in understanding their formal properties. The vast majority of decentralized payment systems work by achieving consensus on the state of the network; a natural question to therefore ask is whether this consensus is necessary. In this paper, we formally define a model of payment systems, and present two main results. In Theorem 1, we show that even though there
more » ... sts a single step black box reduction from Payment Systems to Byzantine Broadcast, there does not exist any black box reduction in the other direction which is significantly better than a trivial reduction. In Theorem 2, we show how to construct Payment Systems which only require a very small number of messages to be sent per transaction. In particular, global consensus about which transactions have occurred is not necessary for payments in this model. We then show a relation between the construction in Theorem 2 and the Lightning Network, relating the formal model constructions we have given to a practical algorithm proposed by the cryptocurrency community.
arXiv:2105.11821v1 fatcat:fdx2cme5bfezfexa37s6j66gc4