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Journal of Network and Computer Applications

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While Bitcoin heavily dominates the cryptocurrency markets, its use in micropayments is still a challenge due to long transaction confirmation times and high fees. Recently, the concept of off-chain transactions is introduced that led to the idea of establishing a payment channel network called Lightning Network (LN), which utilizes multi-hop payments. Off-chain links provide the ability to make instant payments without a need to writing to Blockchain. However, LN's design still favors fees, and it is creating hub nodes or relays that defeat the purpose of Blockchain. In addition, it is still not reliable, as not all transactions are guaranteed to be delivered to their destinations. These issues hinder its wide adoption by retailers. To address this issue, in this paper, we argue that the retailers could create a private payment channel network among them to serve their business needs, just like the concept of private Blockchains. The goal is to build a pure peer-to-peer topology that will prevent the formation of hub nodes while also eliminating the need for any relays to increase the robustness of the payments. Assuming off-chain links as edges and retailers as nodes, we formulate the problem as a multi-flow commodity problem where transactions represent the commodities from various sources to destinations. As the multi-flow commodity problem is NP-Complete, we propose a heuristic approach that utilizes Dijkstra's shortest path algorithm for payments in a dynamic way by updating the edge weights when new paths need to be found. The order of transactions is randomized to provide fairness among the retailers. We further extend this approach to guarantee the privacy of payments by forcing all the payments to travel at least three hops. We utilized k-shortest path algorithm to choose from k options that will meet our criterion. The evaluations indicate that the proposed heuristic comes close to an optimal solution while providing scalability and guaranteeing user privacy.


Accepted version. Journal of Network and Computer Applications, Vol. 180 (April 15, 2021): 103021. DOI. © 2021 Elsevier. Used with permission.