Inspired by the need for privacy in Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, the academic team which received a grant from the Zcash Foundation is launching a private, fast payment channel for any cryptocurrency

BOLT Labs, has announced today an initial closing on a $1.5M seed round led by Dekrypt Capitalwith participation from the Zcash Foundation and Ripple’s Xpring to build a fast, private, and secure cryptocurrency payment channel network that will be usable with virtually any cryptocurrency network.  BOLT, which is an acronym for Blind Off-chain Lightweight Transactions, will launch their payment network first on the Zcash network.

The Bitcoin Lightning Network has emerged as one of the most promising innovations for the Bitcoin network in 2018 and it has introduced a practical utility with fast payment transactions for the Bitcoin blockchain.  However, it has one very big limitation: it lacks privacy.  The Lightning Network, while a great innovation, is not private by default as repeated payments on short paths leak information about payees and can leave a record identifying the users and the funds sent.

BOLT Labs has proposed a private and scalable ‘hub’ capable of integrating with existing scaling solutions, like Lightning Network, and entirely different cryptocurrency networks like Ethereum, Zcash, and more.  Their solution eliminates the linkage between payments within a channel, using​ cryptographic​ techniques​ such as commitments, blind signatures and zero-knowledge proofs.

“Payment speed is a fantastic innovation for cryptocurrency, but the next step is speed plus strong privacy by default,” said Dr. J. Ayo Akinyele, CEO of BOLT Labs. “We are honored to have a great group of investors supporting us and guiding BOLT from the research phase and into a product that will be used by many millions of cryptocurrency enthusiasts in the years to come.”

The research behind BOLT was originally proposed in 2016 by Dr. Matt Green and Dr. Ian Miers of the Zcash Foundation, the organization who provided the initial seed funding for the project. The team has since grown into an all-star group of former academic researchers building out the BOLT platform.

“BOLT has an incredible team of top-notch cryptographers and computer scientists solving a very important issue,” said Howard Wu, Managing Partner of Dekrypt Capital. “We pride ourselves on helping early stage, academic projects like BOLT raise funding and bring incredible, game-changing products to market.  We’re excited about what they are developing and what it will impact in the world of blockchain.”

BOLT Labs $1.5M seed round is led by Dekrypt Capital with participation from Xpring, the investment and incubation division of Ripple, Lemniscap, Access Ventures, Kilowatt Capital, Zcash Foundation, Branson Bollinger as well as several prominent angel investors.

“Bolt’s core technical innovations in bringing privacy to payment channels introduce new potential for the scalability and use cases of crypto,” said Ethan Beard, SVP of Xpring. “The combination of Layer 2 solutions like Bolt and interoperability technologies like Interledger will improve the experience for both developers and end users, paving the path for the mass adoption of crypto.”

The company plans to launch their network initially on Zcash in Q1 of 2020 with additional blockchain network integrations following shortly afterwards.

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