Bitcoinizing the Dollar, and the World, with Lightning 💸⚡🌍
Welcome to the April edition of the Lightning Lab, a newsletter filled with Lightning Network updates, community coverage, and, of course, memes! In this issue, we discuss a new Taproot-native protocol for issuing and transferring assets on Bitcoin and Lightning, the Lightning Labs fundraise, and a host of community launches, funding announcements, and news! Bitcoin 2022 in Miami had enough news and announcements to justify its own special edition, so keep your eyes out for that coming soon.™
Bitcoinizing the Dollar, and the World, with Lightning 💸⚡🌍
Last week we announced Taro, a new Taproot-powered protocol for issuing assets on the bitcoin blockchain that can be transferred over the Lightning Network for instant, high volume, low fee transactions. This announcement marks a big shift to a multi-asset Lightning Network with the potential for the world’s currencies to route through bitcoin liquidity on the network. At its core, Taro taps into the security and stability of the bitcoin network and the speed, scalability, and low fees of Lightning. Together with the new protocol, we also announced our $70M Series B fundraise to further build out Lightning Network infrastructure and help Number of People Go Up. 📈
Olaoluwa Osuntokun @roasbeefI'm soo excited to finally publicly publish a set of draft BIPs for Taro, a Taproot Asset Representation Overlay: https://t.co/2naeQhyJ6V Taro uses the Taproot script tree to commit to extra structure metadata which enables the representation and transfer of assets on Bitcoin
Bloomberg Crypto @cryptoLightning Labs is bringing in new financing as it creates a protocol to facilitate fiat currency transfers to Bitcoin https://t.co/XmknwpNUL2
Additionally, Bitcoin Magazine published an excellent technical overview of the Taro protocol quoting both CEO Elizabeth Stark and CTO Olaoluwa Osuntokun and discussing “Lightning as a decentralized backbone payment network.” CNBC wrote that Taro plus the Lightning Network could “serve as a hybrid of the SWIFT financial messaging system (the communication layer) and correspondent banking (routing component).” CEO Elizabeth Stark was also covered in Bloomberg, TechCrunch, Forbes, CoinDesk, The Block, and Decrypt, with many more picking up the story as well.
News & Updates
Kraken launched Lightning deposits and withdrawals! Pierre Rochard, the exchange’s Bitcoin Product Manager, said “Lightning is a lot more efficient than on-chain Bitcoin while also still relying on on-chain Bitcoin’s security, so it really is the best of both worlds.”
OpenNode raised a $20M Series A funding round at a $220M valuation. This newsletter has highlighted them closing deals every month from Substack to McDonald's in El Salvador; excited to have them continue to power Bitcoin and Lightning payments worldwide!
Voltage raised a $6M seed round to fund its next phase of growth and hiring. The enterprise-grade Bitcoin and Lightning infrastructure provider has been focused on businesses and developers building Lightning applications, powering THNDR Games, Podcast Index, Amboss, Sphinx Chat, Zion, Carrot, and more. They’re looking for hackathons to sponsor!
Ibex Mercado raised a $4M seed round. After playing an enormously important role in the rollout of bitcoin as legal tender in El Salvador, the Guatemalan company eyes expansion in the Americas and Europe.
The Bitcoin Company announced they raised a $2.1M seed round. They recently launched the beta of their Bitcoin rewards app, where users can buy gift cards from more than 150 brands, get sats back, and withdraw through the Lightning Network
Scarce.City raised $690,420 to continue fostering Bitcoin adoption through a cultural approach. Scarce City has run nearly 300 Lightning-powered auctions of limited edition art in both physical and digital formats since its launch in December 2020.
keyan 🍏 @k00bidehStacker News pre-seed raise progress. ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓░░ 87% of $300k committed
Stacker News raised a $300k pre-seed round to remake online communities using Bitcoin. They went from 0 to 1,000+ registered users, 9k+ monthly visitors, and 40k+ page views per month in only six months. And they have users earning 350k+ sats for sharing quality content!
AAX, the Asia-Pacific-based institutional-grade exchange, announced integration with the Lightning Network. Their blog post highlights that the near-instantaneous transactions will open the door to increased possibilities for arbitrage traders on the exchange.
🐙 Kraken processed more than 1,000 bitcoin deposits and withdrawals over the Lightning Network, only 5 days after launching the integration.
⚡ Jameson Lopp compiled some of the metrics for 2021 and highlighted the huge growth the Lightning Network experienced last year. 124% more advertised channels, 132% more nodes with channels, and 212% more bitcoin allocated to those channels.
💎 Diamond Hands, the Japanese node and developer community, published a great routing report with exciting stats! Their node’s transaction volume has grown ~30% monthly on average since April 2021, and it now routes more than 10 BTC ($380k+) per month. The median transaction size for the last three months is 47,298 sats (~$18), and the average size is 103,962 sats (~$40). Check their report for more details!
🧊 Cold Sats, a Lightning node run by Steven Ellis, started sharing monthly updates on their nodes’ earnings, stats, and a few charts. During January, Cold Sats routed 1.198B sats (>$450k) with a profit of 526k sats (>$200).
⛲ Fountain, a Lightning-powered podcasting app, shared their numbers and made us even more bullish on Podcasting 2.0! In January, 791 new podcasts started receiving Lightning payments (more than any other month in history), deposits increased 250%, and transactions increased 52%.
🌍 Bitnob shared that 36% of their deposits/withdrawals were done through the Lightning Network from August to December 2021. Bullish!
🦁 Bitfinex’s average transaction size is increasing! Paolo Ardoino shared their stats in February and 100 BTC were transacted via LN across ~10k transactions.
📊 LN Markets had an all-Time-high in routing activity in February, forwarding more than 37 BTC worth of payments through their Lightning node.
🚙 Andy Schroder published an update of his Board A0, the first building block of a Lightning Network-enabled energy grid. He’s making micropayments to pay for his Tesla Model 3 as it charges!
🧾 Azteco, who sells vouchers redeemable directly over LN, launched its biggest integration! By partnering with Flash Group, they’re now integrated with the South African banks NedBank and TymeBank, which add up to 4M users that now have direct access to Lightning via Azteco. Huge!
🌋 Alphapoint was tapped by the government of El Salvador to build the new Chivo wallet. They have been improving the user experience, with a special focus on Lightning.
📈 LN Markets launched Bitcoin options trading, and released a Python package that makes it easy for developers to connect to their API. The plebs have built a number of fun trading bots/scripts for LN Markets, like the Twitch trading bot, automatic futures hedging, and even a bot that creates random orders.
🛒 Satsback launched a complete rebranding of their platform. Satsback V2 is the final merge between Satsback and Stekking. Combined, they have more than 10k affiliated online stores where their users can receive sats back from their purchases.
🎶 Wavlake released a new version of their Lightning-powered website for musicians with WebLN support. They also removed Pinata/IPFS in favor of a traditional CDN provider, focusing on decentralizing the payment experience with Lightning first. Musicians, register for their beta waitlist!
💫 StarBackr, a platform for creators to monetize their content through the Lightning Network, released their own wallet.
📩 Lightning Address and LNURL continue being widely adopted by wallets and services. Bottlepay v1.8.7 integrated LNURL and Tippin, Bipa, LNPay, and Wallet of Satoshi all have some level of Lightning Address support now.
🌳 BitcoinJungle, an organization building a Bitcoin Beach-like community in Costa Rica, released their own Lightning wallet using Galoy’s codebase. Praia Bitcoin, a similar organization from Brazil, teamed up with Openoms to make launching Bitcoin banks like these more accessible, in a self-hosted environment.
🤝 The Giving Block is now accepting Lightning donations to their Crypto Adoption Fund through their partnership with Zebedee. Your donation goes to all their US-based, pro-crypto nonprofits!
🐂 Kollider is now available as an Umbrel app, and in the Lightning mobile wallets Breez and Blixt. P2P derivatives trading over Lightning is growing and attracting a lot of the big market makers in the space.
🕹️ Stattrak is a new Esports fantasy game where users build their own team with real Esports pro players and earn sats based on how they play in real tournaments! All powered by Zebedee and the Lightning Network!
⛈️ Thndr Games released two new Lightning-powered games! Thndr Bay allows users to earn bitcoin as they solve each level of the game by forming groups of three or more matching bubble creatures. And SATSSS brings back the Nokia-classic Snake game, with Satoshi-steroids!
🔎 Impervious wrote a functionality overview of their browser. The browser uses Lightning, DIDs, a DIDComm system, WebRTC, IPFS, and more to power the P2P internet.
👾 Amboss released a bunch of new features this past month: automatically saved Static Channel Backups, node classifications, enhanced capacity map, and more. Super useful!
🏘️ Bitcoin Beach together with New Story Charity announced the first Bitcoin affordable housing project with mortgages paid in Lightning. Amazing!
🏠 LaHaus, LATAM proptech, closed the first real estate transaction with the Lightning Network in Colombia.
⬡ Hexa now has Lightning accounts using a bring-your-own-node model. Users connect their self-hosted LND node and start using Hexa’s mobile app to interface with it.
🏁 Start9 Labs announced EmbassyOS 0.3.0, with improvements in the base architecture and UI design, alternative marketplaces, enhanced dev tools and much more.
🏦 Galoy published a paper on self-balancing fee structures for inbound liquidity. They outline how self-balancing fee structures can help Bitcoin banks charge market rates for each user – even when using their liquidity as a swap service.
🎳 Strike is widening access to their Creators API, previously available only for Twitter. They launched PlebPay as an example of the API’s capabilities. It took only 4 hours to build it in an internal hackathon! And they launched their app in Argentina!
🔧 Ben Arc keeps hacking and inventing awesome hardware devices. His new BitcoinPoS combines offline and online Lightning Network, onchain, and LNURL-withdraw for refunds and OTC!
🧧 Laisee, little red envelopes with money traditionally gifted for Lunar New Year, were upgraded this year to Lightning!
📬 Zebedee shared a doc describing the path to implementing Lightning Address aimed at service providers. It describes all the required and recommended LUDs (lnurl specs) as well as necessary APIs for a service willing to support Lightning Address.
🥕 Bitkarrot wrote a new Python library that consumes the LNBits API, making it easier to spin up a Lightning Network application. Lightning development gets easier every day!
🎙️ Fountain released a podcaster wallet, where podcast producers can claim their shows, and see their earnings or messages sent by their listeners through the Lightning Network. v0.3.10 of their podcast app has cross-platform Lightning comments and more!
🏀 ratiopharm Ulm, a top-ranked team in the German national basketball league, is now accepting Lightning payments using the Breez Point of Sale thanks to the plebs! Bottom-up adoption is the best possible adoption.
🌬️ Breez published a new build with Spanish, Finnish, and Portuguese translation progress, podcast player enhancements, and new apps. Also, check the great article that Breez CEO Roy Sheinfeld wrote on “Lightning as a Liquidity Network”.
🔦 Blixt v0.4.0 was released with updated lnd, improvements in wallet restoration, and more. It's exciting to see new wallets growing and watch their developers contributing to the standardization of the Lightning protocol at the application level.
🆙 Steven Ellis wrote a great thread on his experience migrating from a Raspberry Pi 4 to more powerful hardware. Plebs are leveling up their game!
🐝 Alby built a Go implementation of an LNDhub server. LNDhub is the open-sourced backend of Bluewallet, that allows anyone to deploy their own “custodial wallet” to their family and friends. Their v1.6.0 release activated Alby-hosted wallets for users who are not running their own nodes.
🤓 PlebLab organized the SATx hackathon, and, as usual for Lightning hackathons, many great projects were born during the weekend of March 12th-13th. Pleb.FM, a crowd-funded DJ, was the big winner with their ongoing Lightning auction that decides the next song in the queue. Check all the participants and what they built!
💻 MIT Bitcoin Club is also organizing a hackathon May 6-7, we hope to see more Lightning projects created there!
📶 LN Router released a new feature that proposes high-performing nodes that optimize your payment speed and graph position. Severin Alex Bühler wrote a blog post on some of the metrics he researched for this feature.
💻 Buck Perley updated his lsat-js library to fully compatible with Aperture, the reverse proxy software that allows web services to authenticate paid users without a username or password.
📚 La Librería de Satoshi is a new Bitcoin studying community focused in Spanish-speaking Latin America. They started a book club on Mastering the Lightning Network by Andreas Antonopoulos, Olaoluwa Osuntokun, and Rene Pickhardt.
📲 Zeus v0.6.0 is available for iOS and Android. The new version includes a full redesign, LNURL-auth support, and coin control.
🇻🇳 BitcoinVN’s OTC desk is now offering trades settled via the Lightning Network for an amount of up to an equivalent of 20,000 USD per transaction.
💦 LQWD Fintech wants to improve connectivity and reduce the latency of payments in the Lightning Network. That’s why they’re adding more nodes to the network hosted in different parts of the world: they have new nodes in Italy, Ireland, Sweden, France, England, Singapore, Germany, and Indonesia.
💸 Lightning Escrow is a non-custodial escrow service using the Lightning Network, explained in more detail during the Austin BTC Club by the CEO, Tristan Bietsch. They were accepted to Tim Draper’s Bitcoin Studio, excited to see what they produce!
🚰 Geyser launched a social crowdfunding platform powered by the Lightning Network. It’s like Kickstarter, but with microtransactions, low fees, and the ability for fundraisers to receive directly to their node. They were also accepted into Tim Draper’s Bitcoin Studio first cohort, bullish!
👊 Mash, the browser-based Lightning wallet that allows creators, builders, streamers to charge their users directly in a pay-as-you-go manner, released two demo apps to showcase how their wallet works: Prophecy Bitcoin and Mashing Monsters.
💰 LN Capital, a company building capital management software for routing nodes, raised a pre-seed round from Seetee and RunwayFbu. They will release v0.1-beta of their first tool, Torq, this month.
🚗 Satimoto promises to allow users to charge their electric vehicles at tens of thousands of charge points by streaming Lightning payments. Their early access program is open, sign up for it on their website today!
Lightning Labs News
Lightning Terminal has had numerous updates now that it has been brought to the web. Terminal users can now send/receive payments, set fees for their channels, check additional details on their nodes, and enjoy background improvements in stability and UX.
The focus on shipping educational content for developers and node operators has continued with new additions to both our Builder’s Guides to the LND Galaxy (like Macaroons, LSAT, Aperture, Send Messages with Keysend, and Debugging LND) and our Youtube channel (like Get Connected with Lightning Node Connect, Managing A Lightning Node with Terminal, and Building Paid APIs with Bitcoin).
Head of Lightning Liquidity Alex Bosworth shared his vision on the future of the Lightning Network on the Connect the World podcast, and spoke about Scaling LND at TabConf.
Engineer Elle Mouton did a deep dive on the differences and similarities between different static invoices LNURL, Offers, and AMP at Advancing Bitcoin (full video soon).
Senior Lightning Infrastructure Engineer Oliver Gugger talked about Taproot and MuSig2 on Lightning at Advancing Bitcoin (full video soon).
Interested in helping us build out key infrastructure to support the growth of the Lightning Network? We are hiring for a Lightning Infrastructure Engineer!
Other roles include:
Join us in making magical internet money a reality! 🧙♂️
Thanks for reading!