The atomic swap is the process of exchanging one cryptocurrency to another directly between the parties to the transaction, i.e. without the intervention of third parties, for example, cryptocurrency exchanger.
After such operations will be possible, theoretically obviating the need for cryptocurrency exchanges and exchange offices. And users will be able to pay all cryptocurrencies support this technology independently accepted only one of them or several. For example, you want to pay with Litecoin in store which only accepts payments in bitcoin. Now, without recourse to intermediaries is impossible. But when technology will get enough spread – these things will become commonplace. It also makes possible the emergence of the so-called decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges, for which there will be no threats in the form of governments and Central banks.
The first transaction with the use of this technology was made in September. However, the technology is still under development and work is far from complete.
A recent tweet by one of the famous cryptocurrency evangelists Jameson Loppa alludes to the fact that the completion is not so far away as people think.
From a recent conversation I had with someone who is building it: “Nearly instant atomic swaps via Lightning Network are coming sooner than everyone thinks. Definitely not a year away, but mere months.”— Jameson Lopp (@lopp) January 4, 2018
From a conversation with one of the developers of this technology: Atomic swaps on the basis of the Lightning Network will be implemented faster than many people think, certainly not in a year, but much earlier, within months.
Recall that at the moment the technology of the atomic swaps supports not so many cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, Litecoin, and Vertcoin Decred.