Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2017/823

Revive: Rebalancing Off-Blockchain Payment Networks

Rami Khalil and Arthur Gervais

Abstract: Scaling the transaction throughput of decentralized blockchain ledgers such as Bitcoin and Ethereum has been an ongoing challenge. Two-party duplex payment channels have been designed and used as building blocks to construct linked payment networks, which allow atomic and trust-free payments between parties without exhausting the resources of the blockchain.

Once a payment channel, however, is depleted (e.g., because transactions were mostly unidirectional) the channel would need to be closed and re-funded to allow for new transactions. Users are envisioned to entertain multiple payment channels with different entities, and as such, instead of refunding a channel (which incurs costly on-chain transactions), a user should be able to leverage his existing channels to rebalance a poorly funded channel.

To the best of our knowledge, we present the first solution that allows an arbitrary set of users in a payment channel network to securely rebalance their channels, according to the preferences of the channel owners. Except in the case of disputes (similar to conventional payment channels), our solution does not require on-chain transactions and therefore increases the scalability of existing blockchains. In our security analysis, we show that an honest participant cannot lose any of its funds while rebalancing. We finally provide a proof of concept implementation and evaluation for the Ethereum network.

Category / Keywords: applications / blockchain

Original Publication (with minor differences): ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security 2017

Date: received 29 Aug 2017

Contact author: rkhalil at ethz ch

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Version: 20170831:183812 (All versions of this report)

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