Bringing Bitcoin to the Next Billion People 🌍🌎🌏

Welcome to the March edition of the Lightning Lab, a newsletter filled with Lightning Network updates, community coverage, and, of course, memes! In this issue, we discuss the Lightning Pool UI release, ecosystem updates, and how Lightning is bringing bitcoin to the next billion people 🔥. 

In case you haven’t been keeping up on Twitter, our weekly Clubhouse room is now happening Wednesdays at 4pm ET and this week we’ll have leading finance researcher Lyn Alden joining us. And to broaden access to developers, we’re starting biweekly Developer Office Hours on our new Lightning Lab Discord Tuesday March 9th, at 1pm ET/7pm CET.

In the media, our CEO Elizabeth Stark was just named to Barron’s “100 Most Influential Women in Finance” list, with Lightning Labs as the only cryptocurrency company included. Congratulations Elizabeth, we have no doubt you’ll be a mainstay in the financial world for years to come, and be working tirelessly to bring more bitcoin entrepreneurs with you!

The Lightning Pool UI is Open for Testing

In November we released Lightning Pool, a non-custodial, peer-to-peer marketplace for node operators to buy and sell Lightning liquidity. The initial release was command line only, and many users in the community were eager to get their hands on a more user-friendly, visual user interface.

We heard these requests and recently added a Pool UI to our unified dashboard, Lightning Terminal. Users who want to deploy their capital to Lightning and earn a return, or get access to liquidity on Lightning by buying channels no longer have to rely on the command line and can now do so with a simple UI. Upgrade to the latest version of LiT to get started.

The addition of user-interface is clearly paying off, as users are excited to use it to earn a return on their bitcoin:

In addition to the highly anticipated Pool UI, we also shipped Pool account renewals and simpler Loop authentication.

News & Updates

Lightning Ecosystem

OKcoin launched their Lightning Network integration last week, telling users “while bitcoin can process 7 transactions per second, Lightning can process thousands. Where bitcoin transaction fees average around $14, Lightning fees are less than 1 cent.” Over the weekend, their node rapidly grew to be the 51st largest node by capacity, and users seem to love the upgrade!

Paxful announced that they are integrating the Lightning Network into their peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange for (predominantly) sub-Saharan Africa. We are especially excited about this announcement, not only because Paxful is one of the leading companies bringing bitcoin to the next billion people, but also because we anticipate they will onboard the growing African bitcoin startup ecosystem to the Lightning Network as well.

Scarce.City completed their third and fourth Lightning-powered auctions last month. Artist FractalEncrypt sold a beautiful Bitcoin Full Node Sculpture for 172M sats ($87k!), describing their work as “a cypherpunk chronometer… a compass for the humble bitcoiner to set to True North.” And artist Brekkie von Bitcoin sold his Genesis Block sculpture - “an imperfect sculpture with flaws that are features, not bugs” - for 10M sats.

OKEx, one of the world’s largest bitcoin derivatives exchanges by volume, is also joining the Lightning Network this quarter. Traders will gain the ability to instantly top-up margin accounts and execute smaller value arbitrage with Bitfinex, Kraken, and the host of Lightning-enabled exchanges. We hope the rest of the China-based exchange ecosystem will follow OKEx in joining the Lightning Network as well.

  • ⚡️ FastBitcoins introduced Lightning Bonuses to their non-custodial bitcoin brokerage, incentivizing users to withdraw over Lightning instead of on-chain by offering 50% of expected on-chain fee. Watch out for more companies adopting this model going forward. 👀

  • 😺 Sphinx.Chat generated 10,000 minutes of streaming micro payments directly from listeners’ Lightning wallets to podcasters’ wallets in the month of February. 

  • 🍾 Bottlepay officially launched their mobile Lightning wallet for UK customers, available on both iOS and Android. We are pumped to see their social media-integrated payments in the wild!

  • ☂️ Umbrel added Lightning Pool to their App Store for self-hosted Lightning nodes. Their users can now earn a non-custodial yield on bitcoin with just a few easy clicks.

  • 🎵 Lightning Store launched their music store as a new offering alongside the existing merchandise. New types of content are being sold over Lightning every day, all over the world, with no permission required!

  • 📈 Kollider tweeted a new sneak peak of their Lightning-native derivatives exchange. They will directly match buyers with sellers in a non-custodial manner over Lightning.

  • 🏞 River Financial released their mobile app for iOS, putting the power of bitcoin in their users hands anywhere, anytime. 

  • 🔙 Satsback and Stekking, two EU-based bitcoin rewards companies based on Lightning, announced they are merging and relaunching under the Satsback.com brand. Their goal is to onboard millions of new European users to the Lightning Network via sats back rewards and we are here for it!

  • 🧧 The Bitcoin Association in Hong Kong gave away Laisee for Chinese New Year, each loaded with 1,000 sats redeemable via Lightning QR codes. There is no better way to ring in the New Year than by stacking sats! 

  • 🌬 Breez wrote an excellent article on one of our favorite topics - inbound liquidity! Highly recommended for those looking to get educated on the Lightning Network’s scarce resource. 

  • 📊 CMT Digital and Ryan Gentry co-authored a blog post on how Lightning-integrated exchanges will enable trading firms to minimize counterparty risk, instead of forcing them back into the same prime brokerage model of centralized counterparty risk that failed in 2008.

  • 📰 Citadel21 tweeted that 60% of their payments for volume 5 of their bitcoin-focused magazine were placed over Lightning - the highest we’ve seen to date!

Bringing Bitcoin to the Next Billion People 🌍🌎🌏

Over the past year, the financial world has seemingly come to terms with bitcoin as a Store of Value — from publicly traded companies like Tesla buying bitcoin with their corporate treasury to America’s oldest bank, BNY Mellon, offering to hold, transfer, and issue bitcoin. And yet bitcoin’s massive potential globally still remains largely untapped. Over the next several years, Lightning adoption will bring bitcoin to the next billion people worldwide, and particularly to the people that need bitcoin the most. They will be able to natively and seamlessly send money in any application on the internet, similar to how they can send photos today.

The Paxful and OKEx Lightning Network integrations are particularly exciting because they are occurring at exactly the time when many users are being priced out of the base layer. 

Bitcoin allows anyone with an internet connection to transfer value, peer-to-peer, in a permissionless manner. That’s an incredible value proposition for areas like sub-Saharan Africa and SE Asia that have unreliable banking systems yet very high smartphone penetration. Matt Ahlborg has been tracking bitcoin usage at UsefulTulips.org and seen very rapid growth.

Statista found that 32% of Nigerians, 21% of Vietnamese, and 20% of Philippinos have used cryptocurrency, but on-chain fees averaging $20 make it very difficult for users in these areas to use bitcoin on a daily basis.

Lightning fixes this.

Some of these next billion users will be using bitcoin directly, like those in Vietnam paying $20 invoices with Wallet of Satoshi at a merchant accepting Lightning Network payments with Neutronpay. Others will use the censorship-resistant payment rails without even knowing it, like Strike Global users in the US remitting value directly from their bank accounts over Lightning back to relatives with Bitcoin Namibia accounts, who then receive it in their local fiat currency. These two use cases are no longer possible with on-chain bitcoin, but they are exactly what the Lightning Network was designed to facilitate.

Paxful and OkEx are signaling to both of their respective geographies that the time is now to integrate with the Lightning Network. We’re particularly bullish on emerging markets and the potential for Lightning to have a huge impact with instant, low fee bitcoin transactions. 

We've seen great experiments take off like Bitcoin Beach, a community in El Salvador largely cut off from the traditional financial system that is using bitcoin and Lightning in their day-to-day lives, along with applications like Stak where users largely in emerging markets perform tasks to earn BTC on LN, earning them a smartphone or helping to pay other expenses. Billions of people don't have access to credit cards today, and bitcoin over Lightning can play a major role in increasing access to digital payments. We'll see even greater connectivity globally with more equal access to a monetary system much like how the internet provided greater access to information and educational resources. In the words of our CEO Elizabeth Stark, “Bitcoin will do in 10 years what the internet did for information — make it more accessible and democratized.”

Lightning Labs News

We are hiring for a Chief of Staff! Interested in managing internal strategic projects and working across the team to support company growth? We’d love to hear from you.

We also have job postings for:

Join us in making magical internet money a reality! 🧙‍♂️

Media

Elizabeth Stark proposed a vision of bitcoin in 10 years in Coindesk: “Most of the biggest use cases 10 years from now will be things that would sound insane to us today.” She also spoke about bitcoin and emerging markets on Clubhouse, was recognized as a leading entrepreneur bringing bitcoin to institutions in Techcrunch, and spoke about bitcoin as a sponsor of social change at Harvard Law’s Blockchain, FinTech & Law Conference.

Today, she’ll be participating in a Lightning AMA at 1pm ET with OkCoin CEO Hong Fang and COO Jason Lau.

Desiree Dickerson highlighted the wave of Lightning integration into popular e-sports games with Coindesk, and discussed the latest developments in Lightning on The Orange Pill podcast with Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert.

Want to get involved? Join the LND Developer Community on Slack.

Meams

Thanks for reading… share with your friends, and scan this QR code from your Lightning wallet to stack a few sats.💰