Lightning to the Moon: Building for Exponential Growth 🚀

Welcome to the August edition of the Lightning Lab, a newsletter filled with Lightning Network updates, community coverage, and, of course, memes! In this issue, we discuss how those building the Lightning Network over the last 3 years are finally seeing their work pay off this summer in exponential network growth and mainstream integrations, plus we focus on new builders setting the foundation for the next phase of exponential growth to come. 📈

Lightning to the Moon 🌕

Last month, with public Lightning Network capacity at 1950 BTC ($62M) and public node count at 20k, we described Lightning’s flywheel as:

Mo users 🔄 mo volume 🔄 mo fees 🔄 mo nodes 🔄 mo devs 🔄 mo users

Since then, public capacity has increased by 20% to 2325 BTC ($114M), public node count has increased by 10% to 22k, analysts have estimated annual network volume to be “$510 million as a baseline minimum,” and OpenNode announced an integration with Substack.

The foundation for this current phase of exponential growth was built over the last several years by developers with their heads down building. For those in the know, this surge of adoption was just a matter of time. We’re already building the foundation for the next exponential growth phase, which starts with a new cohort of developers building brand new use cases for Lightning technology.  Over the last month, we’ve seen exactly the expected surge in developer interest and wider adoption that will keep the flywheel spinning. 

As the Lightning Network grows, and the developer tooling around it improves, builders keep finding new compelling use cases for end users using internet-native transactions. Transferring audio files directly through the Lightning Network, and providing users with a human-readable, email-esque Lightning address are excellent examples of this… and both examples appeared in just the last month! 

Our CEO Elizabeth Stark has said for years that the Lightning Network will first get traction in two major areas: 1) use cases that weren't previously possible and 2) financial access for people who did not previously have it. The summer started with Bitcoin Beach, Strike, and El Salvador waking the world up to the possibility of the second category, so it is only fitting that the summer ends with developers hard at work on the first. Stay tuned… 😈

News & Updates

Lightning Launches

Bitnob announced the Lightning Network integration on their mobile financial services app, giving their Nigerian and Ghanaian users access to nearly instant and nearly free payments, both local and international. On Wednesday, we hosted a Twitter Spaces with Bitnob’s founder to discuss Lightning in West Africa where he said “2021 is the year of Lightning.” We couldn’t agree more!

Zion, previously known as N2N2, just launched their censorship-resistant social network built on top of the Lightning Network. Creators will be able to interact with their audiences directly, without the risk of deplatforming or demonetizing from centralized intermediaries. Most importantly, because Zion plugs into the open Lightning Network, payments and messages immediately interoperate with similar apps like Sphinx.Chat.

IBEX Mercado implemented a Lightning payments solution with instant USD convertibility for merchants from Guatemala and El Salvador, just in time for El Salvador’s bitcoin bill to go into effect on September 7th. The Lightning community has rallied around the Central American region all summer, and we’re excited to see their labor starting to bear fruit!

Lightning Stats

  • 📈 OpenNode, in addition to the above chart, stated on a Twitter spaces this past week they’ve seen LN transaction volume grow 300% MoM, amazing!

  • ⚡ Public LN capacity broke 2,300 BTC, eclipsing $100M! That’s a 60% increase since Bitcoin 2021 at the start of the summer.

  • 🦁 Bitfinex published that 34% of all their bitcoin transactions over the last month were processed through the Lightning Network.

  • 🤯 OkCoin’s LN node capacity grew 90% in two months, reaching 26.6 BTC. Join us, exchanges around the world!

  • 🕑 Lightning Network Plus more than doubled the amount of group channel openings done through their website since our last newsletter: totaling nearly 5k channels, 13 BTC, and 1300 unique users.

  • 🎮 Zebedee processed 28.9k transactions totaling 40M sats ($20k) over LN, and generated 73.6k sats in fees, during July’s MintGox tournament.

Lightning Ecosystem

  • 💨 Seetee has become the newest investor in Breez, the first software venture to join their portfolio. We’re incredibly excited to have partners like Breez succeeding, raising capital, and continuing to grow.

  • 🏛 Shervin Aazami is the first ever US congressional candidate to accept bitcoin donations over the Lightning Network. He views bitcoin and Lightning as core components of his policy in favor of economic justice.

  • 🦷 Bitcoin Smiles is a charity crowdfunding campaign aiming to raise at least 1 bitcoin to bring dental care to the "forgotten" elderly people in El Salvador. In 24 hours, they collected half of their goal, with most contributors using Lightning.

  • 🤑 Azteco announced a partnership with WinGift, a rewards app, where users can choose to receive their rewards as Lightning Vouchers. Sats are eating rewards programs and we are here for it!

  • 🕸 Jameson Lopp wrote an extensive guide on liquidity management for Lightning node operators, highly recommended for those interested in routing sats.

  • 🤖 LNP2PBot is a new telegram bot from Francisco Calderón and Satoshi en Venezuela that uses Lightning payments for peer-to-peer fiat on/off-ramps. Let’s reestablish the peer-to-peer nature of Bitcoin!

  • ☂️ Umbrel is turning into a personal server OS. Expanding beyond bitcoin, Umbrel 4.0 allows you to run your personal cloud, automate your home, or store your passwords, among other things. Self-sovereignty ftw!

  • 🖥️ Zebedee launched a browser extension so that their users can access their wallets directly from Chrome or Firefox. Like we discussed in June’s edition, Lightning is becoming ubiquitous!

  • 📹 BTC Sessions published a great video overview of some of the coolest lightning applications that have appeared over the past few months. Watch and learn!

  • 🚰 Lightning Network Stores recently launched an open smart faucet service on Lightning to help bring bitcoin to the billions. They are funding the faucet themselves, while also welcoming donors.

  • 🤓 Coinshares released a report on Lightning describing the protocol’s mechanics and early use cases for their investor audience. Read and learn!

  • 📺 LNBITs has added a new extension enabling anyone to receive bitcoin donations on Twitch over the Lightning Network, including a StreamLabs integration for native alerts.

  • ⛲️ Fountain Podcasts implemented Boostagrams, the latest Podcasting 2.0 feature announced by Adam Curry, that allows you to send a message to a podcast creator showing some love while streaming sats.

  • 📊 Kollider’s invite system uses LNURL AUTH to simultaneously create an account and open a position. The referrer gets to stack some sats for their referral, and the invitee gets a free position.

  • 🌩 Zeus v0.6.0-alpha1 is available for download on Android and is live on Apple Testflight. They not only completely redesigned the app, but the app also brings complete LNURL functionality and support for AMP.

  • 🤖 Coinlend, an automation bot for lending across different exchanges and services, is now supporting Lightning payments in their platform. 

  • ⚔️ Elixir App launched a new medieval-themed game titled Whisper of Soul. Pre-order it and help fundraise another epic bitcoin-infused game today.

  • 🐦 Zapdos is a new Twitter-like forum where users pay the person they’re replying to. All the payments use the Lightning Network. Cool experiment!

  • ⚡️Shockwallet has rebranded to Lightning.Page, shifting their Lightning-powered content platform away from App Stores as a Progressive Web App combining GUN and WebTorrent.

  • 📚 Anita Posch’s new book, (L)earn Bitcoin, just launched. She brings a unique perspective to Bitcoin and focuses her educational efforts on highlighting its social impact for humanity and privacy, so it comes highly recommended.

Building for Exponential Growth 🚀

Over the past weekend, two Lightning-focused hackathons produced amazing sneak peeks into what developers are interested in building on Lightning today. And as previously mentioned, developers building compelling products for end users using Lightning technology sets the foundation for exponential growth tomorrow. 

First, Impervious.ai gave hackers two weeks to build on the public beta of their peer-to-peer censorship resistant communications-focused APIs. While we have been excited about the potential for machine-to-machine payments and communications over the Lightning Network for some time, the hackathon winners truly blew us away.

John Cantrell won the hackathon with an application that allows developers to write small targeted functions like `estimate-blockchain-fee` or `finish-sentence-with-GPT3`, hide those functions behind a Lightning paywall, and allow any application or user to run the function as long as they’re willing to pay for it. It’s not hard to imagine this scaling to a permissionless marketplace for code, where node operators host popular functions in hopes of earning extra sats by serving a marketplace of application developers. Sounds like a World Computer to us!

Bitswarm won second place at the Impervious hackathon with an application for decentralized file storage and distribution, powered by Lightning. For a truly decentralized web to exist, it will need to be able to serve files at a rate and quality that competes with centralized CDNs like Cloudflare - this is a promising step in that direction!

The second hackathon, pleb.fi, only gave hackers 24 hours but was much more wide-ranging with categories from DeFi to Design to more advanced bitcoin smart contracts. So again, we were thrilled when all three top prize winners were Lightning-focused projects.

The hackathon winner was BakeBoy, built by Will O’Beirne (creator of the Lightning Joule Chrome Extension). BakeBoy is an extension to LND that allows secure credentials-based delegation to trusted third parties using the macaroon bakery. It promises to allow any individual to run a Lightning node for their family, managing channels and liquidity on their behalf, but letting family members enjoy the custodial wallet experience with themselves acting as the trusted custodian.

Second place was won by Buck Perley, who built a streaming donations site using the new Atomic Multi-Path Payments (AMP) techniques available in LND. In the demo, the user inputs a donation amount, a donation frequency, and a message to include alongside each donation, and then begins streaming donations to the owner of the site over Lightning. One way this could be used in the wild would be pay-per-view video streams, where in order to watch a video stream in real-time the viewer needs to be real-time streaming sats to the content creator.

These four hackathon projects give a glimpse at what developers are building to drive the next phase of exponential growth in the Lightning Network: internet-native pricing for storage, computation and bandwidth, new trust models for scaling Lightning to billions of users, and streaming payments embedded into content creation. Highly recommend reading about the rest of the projects not mentioned here as well, the quality was off the charts!

Lightning Labs News

Products

We continued shipping educational content for developers and node operators with new additions to both our Builder’s Guides to the LND Galaxy (like Atomic Multi-Path Payments, Understanding Submarine Swaps, and Enabling Neutrino Mode) and our Youtube channel (like Get Amped).

Media

Laolu Osuntokun discussed the purpose and progress of the Lightning Network with Bitcoinzay on Coindesk TV.

Alex Bosworth was featured in a Business Insider article on running a profitable routing node.

Carla Kirk-Cohen talked Lightning privacy, security, and tradeoffs on What Bitcoin Did with Peter McCormack and Christian Decker. 

Hiring

Do you know ReactJS? Would you like to simplify node management UX while working alongside Lightning devs? We are hiring for a Frontend Application Developer!

Other roles include: 

LATAM Project Manager, Chief of Staff, Technical Product Manager, Executive Assistant, Director of Finance and Operations, Head of Memes, Lightning Infrastructure Engineer, Senior Engineering Manager, Talent Lead, Marketing Lead

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

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

Meams

Thanks for reading!