The Summer of Lightning: Reaching the Tipping Point 🏔

Welcome to the September edition of the Lightning Lab, a newsletter filled with Lightning Network updates, community coverage, and, of course, memes! In this issue, we discuss the massive amount of adoption that’s taken place this summer — from El Salvador to Starbucks to Twitter — all thanks to our community of Lightning startups and developers. Number of People Go Up! 📈

The Summer of Lightning Adoption 🌞

In early June, the Lightning community kicked off the summer by stealing the show at Bitcoin 2021: ubiquitous Lightning payments powered by OpenNode, the world’s first in-person bitcoin-powered Esports tournament from MintGox and Zebedee, and of course El Salvador making bitcoin legal tender thanks to the example set by Bitcoin Beach, Galoy, and Strike. Only a few months later, and the rate of adoption has blown us away.

The public network capacity has doubled and shows no signs of slowing down.

Twitter launched the ability to tip accounts over the Lightning Network. The ability to receive tips is currently limited to iOS users in regions where Strike is operating, but any Lightning wallet can send tips. Twitter has 200M+ Daily Active Users (DAUs). Massive.

Paxful enabled Lightning deposits and withdrawals for their 7M+ users in predominantly emerging markets. This integration provides an on-ramp into Lightning for dozens of new fiat currencies and more than 350 payment methods. Huge for bringing bitcoin to billions!

Chivo Wallet, the official bitcoin and Lightning wallet from the government of El Salvador, launched and has seen rapid adoption. The most important reason behind this, in our opinion, has been the hard work on the ground by Lightning companies like Galoy, OpenNode, and Ibex Mercado (not to mention the pioneering Bitcoin Beach community in El Zonte) who have onboarded merchants of all shapes and sizes, from small-scale local coffee shops to some of the largest corporations in the world.

As this summer of Lightning adoption comes to a close, the inevitable fintech and social media executive conversations about a 2022 “crypto” strategy can be shaped by these recent Lightning launches that are live now, reach millions, and have minimal cost. The Lightning Network has successfully onboarded a Latin American nation-state and one of the largest social media companies on the planet. The benefits of joining this new open monetary network, and connecting with its existing user base, now far outweigh the cost of running a node. Instead of trying to compete with the network itself, why not join it? More and more people are coming to this conclusion, bringing us closer to the Lightning Network’s tipping point. More on that later… 🚀

News & Updates

Lightning Stats

Lightning Ecosystem

Reaching the Tipping Point 🏔

In his 2002 New York Times bestseller, Malcolm Gladwell defined the Tipping Point as “that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” For those of us working on the Lightning Network in the summer of 2021, the phrase “spreads like wildfire” resonates. The pace of growth and the rate of new integrations has astounded, and seems to be only accelerating as time goes on.

The theoretical tipping point for a network technology like Lightning (or like Facebook or the Internet before it) occurs when the benefits of joining said network outweigh the costs of doing so. Once this tipping point has been reached, the adoption curve turns vertical as more users join the network and increase the benefits for future users joining the network in a positive feedback loop. After this point, a competing network must provide a 10x better experience in order to peel users away and chip away at the incumbent’s network effects.

So, have we reached the Lightning Network’s tipping point?

An important criterion for this vertical shift in adoption is that the cost of joining the network for an individual user must stay small in comparison to the benefits received. In the years leading up to this summer, an enormous amount of effort had gone into making the experience of joining the Lightning Network as friction-free as possible — from companies integrating Lightning into their existing user experiences like Twitter and Paxful, to brand new experiences for brand new users like Chivo.

We have certainly seen vertical growth in public network capacity, and in total users that could be connected to the Lightning Network. But the question of stickiness remains: how many of these potential total users will be converted into DAUs? Do we have a critical mass of developers and developer tools to keep this flywheel spinning? 

Regardless of where we are on the adoption curve, the next steps are clear: double down on investment in the developer community and in lowering the friction for new users joining the Lightning Network.

As a point of reference, Okcoin invested in the Lightning developer community by sponsoring a track at this past weekend’s Shellhacks hackathon, Florida’s largest hackathon. There were 3,000 total attendees at the hackathon, with nearly a hundred in Friday’s Lightning workshop, and 21 projects produced for the Lightning track. Pretty impressive work for college students that had never heard of Lightning until Thursday’s Twitter integration announcement.

In order to reach the tipping point, the Lightning community needs more hackathons like Shellhacks, and to keep lowering the barrier to entry for new developers. We need to bring Lightning to more developer communities, get more interest and engagement, and watch the adoption trend continue to go vertical. No reason to leave it up to chance, there’s too much work left to do. ⚡️

Lightning Labs News

Product 

We are looking for feedback! If you’re interested in using our Lightning Pool liquidity marketplace or already are, we would greatly appreciate you filling out this 3 minutes survey. If you’re a Lightning Loop user and have thoughts or questions, please DM Michael Levin

Media

Elizabeth Stark discussed the Lightning Network’s summer of growth at the SALT Conference and was interviewed by Paxful about their Lightning Network integration.

Lucas Ferreira talked about the Lightning Network and his role as a Lightning Evangelist with Bitcoinheiros (in Portuguese). 

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!