Before understanding, Bitcoin Light Client or any other light client one should understand what a light client or light node is all about. A client typically can be a hardware or software that is used to connect to the server. Sometimes instead of the word “client” the term “node” is used.
A “light client” also known as a “light node” is a piece of software, which will help connect to the full nodes to help interact with the blockchain. Thus, making it possible to execute a peer-to-peer transaction.
The difference between a “full node” and “light node” lies in that unlike the “full node”, the light client need not run 24/7 doing all the reading and writing of lot of information on the blockchain.
Users who are making use of the Light Client need not synchronize to the entire blockchain. However, in a full node, there is a need to download and verify every single block in the network which obviously is a costly, resource and time consuming affair. There is a need for full synchronization to happen.
In simple terms, Sydney Ifergan, the crypto expert tweeted: “A Bitcoin Full node typically should make a copy of the entire network; however, a light client need not make a copy of the entire network, it needs to connect with just a trusted third party.”
Light Clients are considered to be good because they make scalability easier; however, the idea of trustless loses its merit in the process.
The current problems faced are just the primary issues. A lot of research is happening to solve the undesirable elements and we are now trending towards using Ultra-Light Clients.
Bitcoin (BTC) Light Client
Businesses are okay about investing in a full node as they do not mind running nodes 24 x 7 to secure their business. They do not mind investing in resources and knowledge to run a full node efficiently either. Bitcoin Miners probably might be happy due to the built in incentive. However, this is not the case with individual users who need to perform just a few transactions. They are not happy running a full node. They use Light Wallets/Light Node to execute their transactions.
In this process of using a Light Node, the users are forced to trust a third party client. This is what is called the Centralized Single Point of failure. Despite, due to the better user experience light wallets are most preferred.
Light Clients are finding ways to sustain themselves by offering to perform micropayments. A lot of research is happening to incentivize running full nodes and also to identify ways to permit light clients synchronize quickly.
Light clients are becoming the backbone of a well-sustained decentralized transaction infrastructure.